We like to think of the trade deadline like it's a scene from a Hollywood blockbuster -- a timer on a stack of explosives, ticking the seconds away, as someone frantically paws at red and blue wires, trying to tell the difference between the two. It's a deadline. It's set in stone, and everything needs to happen before the whole thing blows up.
Trades made after the deadline are like looking down and seeing the explosive was made out of Jenga pieces and a Swatch. Turns out there wasn't quite the urgency we thought the first time.
But it's a weird selection of players that will be put on waivers and be a part of August trade talks. They're often players that other teams want in a perfect world, but who were signed to imperfect contracts in an imperfect world. If the Red Sox released Carl Crawford right now, 29 teams would put a call into his agent. After the Red Sox put him on waivers, though, GMs around the league made the sign of the cross and closed their laptops. Their phones rang, and a voice whispered "Seven days." No one's going to touch that Crawford contract.
There are still deals that can be made, though. A look at three of the most interesting waiver possibilities:
The post-deadline deals are usually filled with players that a teams like, just not that much. Cliff Lee was put on revocable waivers -- not a surprise, as most players are in August -- and the speculation is that no team will claim him. If they did, there's a chance the Phillies could choose not to revoke the waivers, which would pass the obligation of Lee's to the claiming team. When the Giants claimed Cody Ross, the Marlins let him go to save a extra million or two. That worked out. When the Padres claimed Randy Myers, they ended up paying him close to a million dollars for each of the 14 innings he threw in his Padres career.
It seems odd that Lee will pass through waivers completely untouched. He's 33, and he's still owed close to $90 million over the next three years, but he's still good. What kind of contract would he sign if he were a free agent in the offseason? I'd guess 4/$80 million off the top of my head, if not more. That'd be a starting point for an interested team to negotiate with the Phillies, though -- a way to get an exclusive window of negotiations to ask what prospects it would take to have Philadelphia send $10 million or so with Lee.
And if they didn't like the Phillies' terms, they wouldn't have to make the deal. The risk would be the Phillies not pulling Lee back. There has to be one team that would take that risk for Lee, right? He's not that dramatically overpaid.
If he skates through waivers, though, then it becomes something of a free-for-all with all of the interested teams, except it's still quite unlikely the Phillies would trade him.
The Chicago Cubs have already indicated they're willing to eat just about all of the remaining two years on Soriano's deal, so it wouldn't be a shock to see him be one of the players moved before September. The tricky part: He's played more than ten years, and more than five with the Cubs. He can veto any trade, and he's already established that he'll be a little selective when it comes to a new team.
He'd be a DH upgrade for Detroit, for one. Heck, put him back at short, Detroit. If you're going to go weird with the infield, go all the way ….
He has a contract that's more than reasonable (two more years at $7 million), so he'll get claimed. The Royals will get the first crack, but they're not going to claim him because they probably don't have a whole lot of interest in traded a pailful of prospects for him. So they're not going to be jerkbags and claim him, expecting the Twins to say "Bah. Just take him."
Just a guess, of course. Dayton Moore could be an amazing troll in real life.
But between the Royals and Yankees, someone will claim him. And they'll get an exclusive window to see what the Twins' price is. The Twins have said they aren't planning to trade Willingham, but they have to at least listen. They aren't just a plugged hole short of a functional rowboat, and Willingham could bring back two or three nice prospects.
Willingham has been the best hitter on the Twins this year, and that contract looks like a steal. But he's just one player, he's 33, and he's never been the healthiest player. There are untouchable players. Willingham isn't one of them. It'll be interesting to see if a team claims him and makes a serious play.
Realistically, none of these players will switch teams. Lee's contract will scare teams off, the Cubs probably aren't going to eat $40 million unless they get a premium prospect back, and Willingham is too good, too cheap for the Twins to give up. The players who usually go in waiver deals are minor cogs -- think Jeff Baker or Joe Blanton this year.
But there's a chance that the goofiness of the trade deadline isn't over yet. After refreshing MLB Trade Rumors all month and staring at Twitter for a month, one more deal would let us transaction junkies down easy. C'mon. Entertain us, GMs.