Welcome to August, the month that starts immediately after MLB’s July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. For fans of teams like, I dunno, the current Cincinnati Reds, August represents something akin to December 26th, the lull after the initial holiday rush that you slog through until New Year’s Eve finally rolls back around. Teams play their way into posturing with July 31st in mind, and even teams that don’t sit prominently in the standings often have the chance of remaining newsworthy for the trades they can make to either galvanize or re-stock the current edition.
Sometimes, however, teams aren’t exactly in a position to do either, and when that coincides with them also sitting in the basement of the standings, it creates a general blergitude like where the Reds sit in right now. On a team that only had a handful or so players with a legitimate chance to get moved, they moved quite possibly the one of those who carried the least actual value - and got in return pretty much what that type of asset should command: not much.
There’s a minor twist to that all, though. July 31st merely marks a trade deadline, not the trade deadline. As MLB Trade Rumors’ Mark Polishuk detailed earlier this morning, teams can still make deals throughout the month of August and still have those acquisitions participate in the playoffs. The only roadblock to those moves, however, is the waiver process, which adds an additional procedural layer to any potential transaction. And for the Reds, that just might give them enough time to market and deal the likes of Zack Cozart, Scott Feldman, and Drew Storen after all.
Given that all of those three are set to be free agents at season’s end, it isn’t very likely that the teams with first dibs in the waiver process - NL teams with the worst records at the moment - will be itching to add any of the three at any cost just to see them leave at the end of September (for the same reasons why the Reds want to trade them in the first place). For the contenders in the NL, however, the August trade period will provide a second chance to see Feldman and Cozart, specifically, be healthy again, and will give an opportunity to trade for (or simply claim) either at a reduced cost. With every passing day, the overall salary obligations for the Cincinnati trio continue to be paid down by the Reds, which means the amount teams who claim them could be on the hook for shrinks, too - not to mention that as fewer and fewer games remain in the season, the amount in prospect haul it would take to strike a deal with Cincinnati after claiming a player becomes less and less, too.
With Cozart due no more than ~$2ish million for the remainder of the year and both Feldman and Storen due half that, a healthy and productive early portion of the month should mean that each has a decent likelihood of being claimed by someone, eventually. And while the returns the Reds might get for striking a deal with the claiming teams might not be blockbusters, it’ll still be a chance to recoup something, anything from the trio before they simply walk in free agency. Or, at the least, they might well be able to shed a few million bucks that can get lumped into this winter’s war chest to help make 2018 a more palatable season for all interested parties.
In other news, FanGraphs ranked the 65 prospects who were moved in July trades based on their own Future Value scale, and since Hendrik Clementina was moved for Tony Cingrani, he...well, he makes the list, and while he isn’t quite at the bottom of the list, he sure can smell the bottom of the list from his spot.
(They also did so using their KATOH and KATOH+ evaluations, and while I’m less inclined to bank on those in particular, they are both a bit more fond of where Clementina ranks among those prospects recently traded.)
Speaking of Clementina, Doug Gray has a bit more detailed assessment of the catcher’s upside and scouting reports over at Reds Minor Leagues. If you squint hard, acknowledge that it’s not a perfect 1 for 1 comparison, and do a slight bit of mental gymnastics, you’ll see a scouting report that sort of reminds you of Gavin LaValley from a few years back. Of course, that’s a best case scenario take, I’m afraid.
(Wednesday Farmers Only Spoiler Alert: Jose Siri just singled to stretch his hit streak to 37 games!)