MLB August trade guide: Rules, top candidates

Jonathan Papelbon, Alex Rios and Justin Morneau are among the MLB players who could be traded during the month of August. (AP)

The non-waiver trade deadline is history, but if recent years are any indication, trade season is far from over.

Teams can still make deals in August. They always do, and 2013 won’t be an exception.

Here’s Sportsnet’s guide to August trades, along with a look at 10 players who could be traded this month. Be warned; it’s not exactly a straightforward process.


For teams to trade players in August, the players must first be exposed to revocable waivers.

Teams often expose dozens of players to waivers in August, so the presence of a player on waivers isn’t exactly big news. In most cases, it’s simply a way for teams to gather information.

This time of year, waivers are revocable, so teams can gauge interest in players they fully intend to keep at no risk.

For example, the Toronto Blue Jays could put Adam Lind on waivers to determine the interest level in the 30-year-old, even if they have no intention of moving him. In doing so, general manager Alex Anthopoulos would get concrete information about Lind’s perceived value around the league.

If a player is claimed on waivers, he can either be moved to the claiming team or pulled back off of waivers. Once he gets claimed, his team has three choices.

  1. The team can let the claimed player and his contract go to the claiming team .
  2. The team can attempt to work out a trade with the claiming team. They have 48.5 hours to do so.
  3. The team can pull the player back off of waivers and keep him. But if the team selects this option, and places the player on waivers again, the waivers will no longer be revocable. Waivers are only revocable the first time.


If the player passes through waivers unclaimed, he may be traded to any team in August, or even in September.

While there’s technically just one trade deadline, August 31 functions as a second deadline of sorts. For teams to include players on their playoff rosters, the players must be in the organization by the end of August.

While some September trades do occur, the vast majority of waiver trades take place in August.

In general, high-salaried players pass through waivers. Younger players in the early stages of their careers are more likely to be claimed on waivers, which limits the types of deals that teams can make. It’s worth noting that players on the disabled list cannot be passed through waivers.

Last year, for example, the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers completed a trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and others to L.A. after the non-waiver trade deadline had passed.

Inter-league waiver deals such as the Red Sox-Dodgers deal are slightly more difficult to pull off, since MLB determines the waiver order according to league. National League teams have priority on NL players and vice versa.

The 2013 non-waiver trade deadline was relatively quiet partly because so many teams remain within striking distance of a playoff berth. As the prospects of fringe contenders diminish, more players figure to become available.

There’s also the possibility that suspensions related to the Biogenesis clinic and unexpected injuries will create new needs on contenders around the major-leagues and spark trade talks.

With those guidelines in mind, here’s a speculative look at 10 players who could be moved this month:


Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Philadelphia Phillies

Papelbon continues to pitch effectively, and has expressed interest in playing for a winning team. He earns $13 million per season through 2015 and his contract includes a $13-million option for 2016, so he could pass through waivers unclaimed.

Cliff Lee, SP, Philadelphia Phillies

Lee earns $25 million per season through 2015 with a $27.5 million option for 2016, so it’s conceivable that he could pass through waivers unclaimed. The Phillies elected to keep Lee when the Dodgers claimed him last summer.

Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins

Morneau, a free agent after the season, has eight home runs and a .321 on-base percentage. With a $14 million salary, he could easily clear waivers.

Alex Rios, RF, Chicago White Sox

Teams such as the Pittsburgh Pirates and Texas Rangers reportedly expressed interest in Rios, who has 12 home runs and a .323 on-base percentage. He’ll earn $12.5 million this year and next year, and his contract includes a $13.5-million option for 2015.

Michael Morse, OF/DH, Seattle Mariners

The Mariners played well before and after the All-Star break and stood pat at the trade deadline. Morse earns $6.75 million this year and could draw interest as a right-handed power bat.

Darren Oliver, RP, Toronto Blue Jays

Oliver could be traded in August, but Anthopoulos said Wednesday that he was expecting a quiet month with respect to trades. The left-hander earns $3 million in 2013, and he has said he’ll retire following the season.

Kyle Lohse, SP, Milwaukee Brewers

Lohse has a 3.22 ERA with four times as many strikeouts as walks. He’s set to earn $11 million per season through 2015.

Raul Ibanez, OF/DH, Seattle Mariners

Ibanez has 24 home runs midway through his age-41 season. He earns just $2.75 million, so he might get claimed on waivers. If that occurs, the Mariners could simply elect to keep him.

Kevin Gregg, RP, Chicago Cubs

The Cubs — probably the most aggressive seller leading up to the July 31 deadline — would presumably deal Gregg under the right circumstances. The right-hander has a 3.05 ERA with 37 strikeouts and 21 walks in 41.1 innings.

Chad Qualls, RP, Miami Marlins

It’s not hard to tell that Qualls is not part of the Marlins’ future, but the 34-year-old prospective free agent could have value to a contender. He earns $1.15 million and has a 2.49 ERA with 36 strikeouts against 10 walks in 44 games.

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