More Waiver News

August 14, 2008

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Street Reporter

More Waiver News

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, teams have claimed both Jarrod Washburn and Raul Ibanez, contradicting earlier reports I'd heard that Washburn had passed through waivers. This happened on Tuesday, meaning that Seattle has until today to work out a trade with the claiming team or simply allow the players to be claimed. If the Mariners pull them back from waivers, it means that if Seattle tries to waive them again, it's irrevocable, and the claiming team can simply take the players (and their salaries) without compensation to Seattle.

At this point--since the deadline has now passed for a deal--I'm going to assume that no news is no trade news. We may find out differently in the next few hours, but waiver claims and deals are tricky things, involving gamesmanship by other teams as well as merely wanting a player. The Yankees often claim players (like Jose Canseco) off waivers just to ensure that divisional rivals don't get them. Even if a deal can't be worked out (as happened when the Sox claimed Brian Giles) that player can't be waived again, at least not without the threat of losing him without compensation.

This is very much the case with Washburn and Ibanez. Since the Rays lost Carl Crawford for the season, they'd very much like to get Raul, but every team beneath them in the overall standings (everyone but the Angels) has first crack. So either the Red Sox or the Yankees could claim Ibanez, just to be sure that Tampa Bay doesn't fill their outfield hole. 

Jarrod Washburn, on the other hand, would most likely go to the Yankees, who need him the most and who are most likely to eat his hefty salary. But they couldn't make a deal before the deadline, and time's a-wasting for them to make a deal now. Seattle can hold tight on Ibanez, hoping for draft-pick compensation if he leaves, or a crack at re-signing him if they want him to stay, but Washburn still has one more year at $10M on his deal. So there's no pressure to trade Washburn, except to rid themselves of his ridiculously high salary. The earliest they can let him go to free agency is after next season.

And so we sit and fret and wonder, with contradictory impulses. On the one hand, Raul is a more enticing trade candidate, but losing him is losing a big part of Seattle's offensive and team heart. And we'd love to lose Washburn, since he's such a mediocre arm at a high price, but other teams are less likely to trade for him, because of that high-paid mediocrity.

But that's the way the cookie crumbles for Lee Pelekoudas, especially when the crumbly cookie was handed to him by Bill Bavasi. He needs to balance the desire to simply shed Washburn with whatever he might get in return (reportedly, the earlier deal with the Yanks fell through because the Ms insisted Vidro be included in the package--Vidro has, of course, since been DFAed). And if he can get a good price for Ibanez, that's great, and Pelekoudas should be more motivated to deal Raul, in the light of his expiring contract.

Keeping Washburn at any price (that is, by holding out for unreasonably high compensation in return) is as foolish as dealing Ibanez for peanuts would be. My advice to Mariners management would be to hold on to Raul, in the hopes of some draft pick compensation if he leaves, unless you've got a good deal. But take anything to get rid of Washburn.

In the next few hours, we will see if they heed this advice.

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