It seems like every move the Brewers have made with Shaun Marcum over the past month was made with eyes on the waiver trade deadline at the end of the month, so today’s news seems like more of a formality than anything else — according to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Milwaukee put Marcum on trade waivers Tuesday.
Rosenthal says that Marcum’s waiver claim period will expire shortly before Marcum takes the mound against the Cubs on Thursday. That means teams won’t get another chance to see Marcum pitch before putting a claim in on him, but any team awarded the claim will get 36 hours to work out a deal.
Marcum has about $1.3 million remaining on his 2012 contract, and is a free agent after the season. If the Brewers were to trade Marcum, they would be passing up on the chance to offer him a qualifying offer for next season, a necessary step in getting draft pick compensation. As with Zack Greinke, any team trading for Marcum would be ineligible for compensation if he were to leave this winter.
This makes predicting the potential return for Marcum in a trade hard to do — the Brewers likely don’t want to give him up for anything less than the equivalent of a sandwich round pick, but that’s a fairly hefty price for any team to pay for a one-month rental who also happens to be an injury risk.
One team Rosenthal floated as possibly being interested in Marcum are the Los Angeles Dodgers, fresh off a mega-waiver deal with the Boston Red Sox. Reports in the days following the Boston deal had the Dodgers still interested in a starting pitcher, and Marcum would seem to be a logical fit. Marcum’s style would play well in Dodger Stadium, and in three starts there, Marcum has struck out 16 in 20.2 innings with just three walks and a 0.87 ERA.
The Dodgers aren’t the only NL contender that would make sense — the Pirates wouldn’t have much to lose by throwing in a claim, for example. Erik Bedard was just released, James McDonald has had a rough second half, and another solid starter could keep the Bucs in the wildcard race without having to lose much from their farm system. There’s also the Washington Nationals, whose plans to shut down Stephen Strasburg in the middle of a pennant race have caused a lot of debate. Replacing Strasburg with Marcum would allow the Nats to continue their pennant push without missing a beat.
If Marcum were somehow able to sneak through every NL team on waivers, AL clubs like Baltimore (who are reportedly close to signing Randy Wolf) or the Tigers could also make sense. Oakland recently lost Bartolo Colon to suspension, but have enough depth in their system to probably get away with not risking a claim. Even the Yankees could use a rotation upgrade heading into the playoffs.
The point here is should Marcum completely sneak through waivers, the Brewers should have no shortage of potential suitors. That’s a scenario that would seem to be unlikely, however. At his best, Marcum is good enough to potentially sway a playoff race…you would think some contender out there would risk being “stuck” with the $1 million+, or would make a claim on Marcum just to block a division rival from getting him.