Baseball’s waiver period is a strange, often confusing process. The trade deadline is a tumultuous storm of chaos and the last minute changing of uniforms. Historically, the waiver period then becomes the calm after the storm; most teams make a few ripples and maybe a wave or two, but the worst is behind them. The whole process is just a mess. A players must of course pass through waivers in order to be traded. However a team can claim that player before he actually makes it through. That team may actually want the player, or perhaps they may just attempting to block a rival team from acquiring him. The team who posted the player may pull him back, but then that players cannot be placed on waivers again, unless they are being released. It’s the proverbial case of who blinks first, adding a whole new layer of complication to the game.
Recent waiver periods have awakened a whole new system. Recently, we have seen the likes of Alex Rios go claimed, with the Blue Jays just letting him slip away without any deal taking place. This season the Dodgers and Red Sox performed a blockbuster bigger than anything completed during the initial trade period. The waiver period is evolving and the Mariners may have attempted to involve themselves in the changing times.
Recently the Minnesota Twins placed Justin Morneau into the waiver stream. It couldn’t have taken very long for a team to attempt a claim on the slugging first baseman. It’s not at all far fetched to believe that the Seattle Mariners could be that unidentified team.
First base has been nothing short of a complete failure for the Mariners this season. Justin Smoak is no longer teetering on the edge of being a bust, he is one. Even after demoting him to AAA after struggling for the entire first half, Smoak hasn’t learned a thing, hitting a flimsy .167 with 7 K’s and 5′s walks. Fill-ins haven’t provided much in the way of offense either–between a struggling Ackley and a injury prone Mike Carp. The Mariners only internal option at first appears to be in the form of Jesus Montero, whom will have to prove he can at least play passable defense. The organization is truly void of a natural first base option.
The Mariners have a need to fill, which is where Morneau comes in. Morneau is a prime candidate to find a new home this offseason as the Twins look to reload and rebuild. With the Mariners continuing to makes strides and build upon the foundations set by Jack Zduriencik, they find themselves in a prime position to make a push in the next coming seasons. The team has flooded itself with league average, replacement level players. They have put themselves in an excellent position to insert one or two impact bats in order to push this team into a pennant race. Morneau qualifies as one of those impact bats and as a left handed hitter, his power fits well into the confines of SafeCo field.
Morneau fits too perfectly into Seattle’s plans, and by attempting to acquire the first basemen this season, he earns a trial period to become comfortable with his new surroundings. There is no evidence to support that it was Seattle who placed a claim on the Twins product, however with only a few teams with a worse record than the Mariners, and few of those teams in need of a first basemen, it seems to make sense that it was our very own hometown nine that placed the claim. Even though the Twins pulled him back, the Mariners may again attempt this sort of move again during the offseason.