Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish and three other players have cleared waivers a source confirmed to ESPNDallas.com on Tuesday August 19th. The other three players to clear waivers with Darvish are infielders Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus as well as outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. This news comes about two weeks after Texas passed outfielder Alex Rios through waivers. Clearing waivers means that the five veterans can now be traded by the Rangers despite the fact that the non-waiver trade deadline has already passed. At 48-76 the Rangers currently own the worst record in baseball so it is no surprise that they are trying to unload some veteran players in exchange for prospects that can help them build a brighter future.
Though the players just cleared waivers and are still a long complicated process away from being traded it is always fun to speculate so below is a list describing the type of season each player is having and which teams they may end up being traded to. We have also included the likelihood of each possible trade happening.
Season summary: Darvish has been the Rangers ace since joining the ball club in 2012 but injuries have slowed him down this year. He is currently serving time on the 15-day DL recovering from inflammation in his right elbow. In 22 starts for the Rangers this year Darvish has posted a 3.06 ERA to go along with a 10-7 record. Darvish could very well be the one player on this list the Rangers truly do not want to trade but feel compelled to. At 28 years old there is plenty reason to believe that Darvish is still not done as an elite pitcher but the fact that he is still owed about $31 million after this season hinders the Rangers' ability to make future trades or sign players in the off-season thus making him regrettably expendable.
Where he may be traded: When talking about teams in need of starting pitching the three teams that come to mind are the Angels, Pirates, and Yankees. All three teams are in the playoff race and all would benefit greatly from adding a pitcher of Darvish's caliber to their rotation.
The Angels currently own the best record in baseball but their one Achilles heel has been their staring pitching. Apart from Garrett Richards the rest of the Angels rotation has been inconsistent. Adding Darvish would patch up Anaheim's one weakness and give them a deadly three-headed pitching monster consisting of Darvish, Richards, and Jered Weaver heading into the post season. The chances the Angels pull of this trade are slim to none however given the fact that they simply do not have the prospects to land a pitcher of Darvish's caliber.
The Yankees are another playoff contending team that can use a boost to their starting pitching especially after losing C.C. Sabathia for the remainder of the season. A deal for Darvish is unlikely to be pursued by the Yankees however given that they are already over the luxury tax and that a trade for Darvish would likely include them giving up young phenom Michael Pineda who they have likely deemed as untouchable.
The Pirates seem like the one team in the best position to land Yu Darvish. They are far from hitting the luxury tax and have enough young talent to spend on a mega deal like this. It is important to note that the Pirates were in on the David Price trade talks before loosing out to Detroit, so a deal for Darvish is certainly not out of their reach. The acquisition of Darvish combined with the return of Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole would possibly make the Pirates the hottest team in baseball heading into the month of September.
Likelihood he gets traded: likely. Despite his big contract and current stint on the DL, Yu Darvish is too good of a talent to pass up. It is hard to believe that a playoff contender somewhere will not make a deal happen. Expect him to be wearing a different uniform by the time the postseason arrives.
Season summary: Adrian Beltre is once again proving to be one of the most consistent hitters in all of baseball hitting .318 through 110 games this season. The problem with Beltre is his contract and his age. The Rangers will have to pay Beltre an average annual salary of $17 million through 2016 and at 35 years old they may have decided that he simply is not worth the money anymore. His recent decline in power and RBI production are testaments to this mindset.
Where he may be traded: The one playoff contending team that currently has a pressing need for a third baseman is the Baltimore Orioles. Earlier this month Baltimore lost third baseman Manny Machado to a knee injury leaving them with a hole to fill at third. Whether or not the Orioles would go as far as to trade for a new third baseman really depends on the timetable for Machado's return. Recent rumors say he could be activated from the disabled list as early as August 27th but there is also the possibility that he could be out longer, making Baltimore's need for a stand-in third baseman all the more urgent.
Likelihood he gets traded: unlikely. There is no doubt that Adrian Beltre can still contribute to a playoff contending team but it is unclear whether or not teams will be willing to give up young prospects and take on a huge financial burden for a player that is still under contract through next season and is beginning to diminish in production. The Rangers may have to bite the bullet on this one and keep Beltre on their roster for now.
Season summary: Though his offensive numbers may not be as impressive as they have been in previous seasons, Elvis Andrus has still been a valuable defensive asset for the Rangers this season as he has recorded 172 outs and has assisted in 291 more through 123 games this year. At 25 years old Andrus is the youngest player to have cleared waivers for the Rangers which means he also has the most upside of any player on this list. The one thing that may deter teams from trading for Andrus is his contract which runs through 2023 and will pay him an average annual salary of $15 million. It should however be noted that Andrus can opt out of his contract immediately following the 2018 and 2019 seasons which may offer more flexibility for him and any team that acquires him.
Where he may be traded: Given Andrus' hefty price tag the two teams that have to come to mind are the two teams with the biggest payrolls; the Yankees and the Dodgers. Derek Jeter's final season in the majors is coming to a close and it will take someone just as athletic and aggressive as him to replace him on the field. Enter Elvis Andrus. The Yankees would love to get their hands on Andrus knowing that he would fit in perfectly in the top of their lineup and that his stellar defensive play would make them feel as if Derek Jeter had never retired. It sounds like a dream come true for Yankees fans but this fantasy may be just that as New York is already well above the luxury tax thanks to the mega deals it owes to players like the injury-plagued Mark Teixeira and the suspended Alex Rodriguez so it seems unlikely that they would want to take on another big contract. Combine that with the fact that the Rangers would demand a plethora of young prospects in exchange for Andrus makes a deal with the Yankees seem all the more unlikely. Still, these two hurdles will most likely not keep the New York front office from at least entertaining the thought of a trade and if history has taught us anything it is that the Yankees are never truly out of a race for an all-star caliber player.
The Dodgers already have a solid infield unit but must recognize that they have an aging third baseman in Juan Uribe and a shortstop in Hanley Ramirez who seems to be getting increasingly uncomfortable playing the position. One possible solution to this dilemma is to move Ramirez over to third, have Uribe shift to a utility role, and make a deal to acquire Elvis Andrus and have him become the new shortstop. Los Angeles certainly has the prospects to land a player like Andrus and going over the luxury tax has not seemed to scare the new management away from making a deal. Not to mention that adding Andrus to an infield that already includes Ramirez, Dee Gordon, and Adrian Gonzalez would give the Dodgers an infield that would be reminiscent of the infamous "wrecking crew" from the 1970's. The only thing that may stop the Dodgers from pulling off this trade would be their desire to want to keep their top prospects like outfielder Joc Pederson and infielder Alex Guerrero.
Likelihood he gets traded: likely. Like Darvish, Andrus is simply too good of a talent to pass up. Some team somewhere will find a way to overlook his huge contract and conjure up enough top prospects to make a deal. I would be surprised if he is not wearing a new jersey come playoff time.
Season summary: The Rangers find themselves in an interesting predicament with Shin-Soo Choo as he is likely the one player on this list they want to move the most but is also likely the one they will have the hardest time moving given his disappointing season. After hitting 21 home runs and scoring 107 runs for the Reds last year, Choo has belted just 12 homers and scored just 57 runs for Texas this season. Throw in his unimpressive .240 batting average and it becomes clear why he is making Rangers executives regret giving him a seven-year $130 million contract this past off season.
Where he may be traded: Uncertain. There really is no team in the majors right now that seems to be desperate enough for outfield help that they would pull off a trade for the slumping Choo and his bloated contract.
Likelihood he gets traded: highly unlikely. As just mentioned, no team is going to want to acquire Choo while also having to pay the remainder of his $130 million contract. This means that the Rangers would have to pay off most of his contract in order to get a deal done. It may be smarter for the Rangers to hold on to him for now and try moving him in the off season.
Season summary: Alex Rios has performed adequately for the Rangers given his .400 slugging percentage and .284 batting average through 117 games this year. This combined with the fact that he is in the final year of his contract and has a team option for next season may make him the easiest player on this list for Texas to trade. Whether or not they do trade him is another question entirely.
Where he may be traded: The playoff contending team in need of outfield help that immediately comes to mind is the Seattle Mariners. Seattle already has one of the best pitching staffs in baseball but landing Rios could bolster both their lineup and outfield defense. Sliding Rios in alongside Dustin Ackley and Austin Jackson would give the Mariners a solid outfield core moving forward.
Likelihood he gets traded: somewhat likely. As mentioned the Mariners stand out as the one team that may be in search of outfield help heading into the month of September. Whether or not they pull off a deal for Rios in particular may depend on several factors such as the Rangers asking price for him or their ability to find outfield help elsewhere.