SAN FRANCISCO — The general consensus last summer was that the Giants did pretty well before the August 31 deadline to make waiver trades. They swapped a month of Andrew McCutchen for infielder Abiatal Avelino and right-hander Juan De Paula, two top 30 prospects in a deep Yankees system.
Farhan Zaidi won’t have the opportunity to make that kind of swap.
As part of a bigger deal between MLB and the Players Association to make rule changes, the sides have agreed to have just one trade deadline — July 31 —reports Jeff Passan of ESPN. Passan wrote that the union agreed to that particular change with the hope that eliminating waiver trades “will cause teams to be more aggressive in the offseason knowing that the fallback for August deals is no longer an option.”
Essentially, fringe teams will need to more quickly decide if they’re selling — the Giants did not make that determination until after July 31 last year — and contenders won’t be able to count on August claims to build depth. While the Giants figure to be in sell mode now, their most notable waiver deal in recent years was actually an acquisition.
On Aug. 22, 2010, the Giants, who had a somewhat crowded outfield at the time, were awarded Cody Ross on a waiver claim. They took on the remaining $1 million in his deal in part to keep the Marlins veteran from bolstering the Padres outfield, and that might have won them a title.
Ross was batting .265 with 11 homers at the time (ironically, the move cleared the way for the Marlins to call up prospect Cameron Maybin, now a Giant). After coming to San Francisco, Ross upped his OPS by about 100 points in 33 regular season games and then took off in the postseason.
Ross had seven hits in 20 at-bats in the NLCS against the Phillies, including three homers, earning the MVP award. He hit two off ace Roy Halladay in Game 1 of that series and took Roy Oswalt deep in Game 2. Ross also had a game-tying homer in Game 4 of the NLDS and went deep in Game 3 of the World Series.
Overall, Ross batted .294 with five homers that October, winning a ring in his only postseason appearance.
The Giants might not be in that type of position this August. But if they are, they won’t be able to make a similar type of deal.