The final month of the regular season means percolating pennant races that we've all come to anticipate and absorb, dramatic plays on the field that can define stretch drives, and the type of late season bonding that forge a clubs' identities heading into the postseason.But there's one other event on
The final month of the regular season means percolating pennant races that we've all come to anticipate and absorb, dramatic plays on the field that can define stretch drives, and the type of late season bonding that forge a clubs' identities heading into the postseason.
But there's one other event on the calendar, one last milepost that could be as important to the fate of a team as any clutch base hit or high-leverage inning pitched.
It's the annual Aug. 31 deadline for a player to be eligible for a team's postseason roster, or, in more basic terms, the last chance for teams to swing deals that could impact their rosters, and, in turn, the standings. The actual deadline is at 11:59 pm ET on Wednesday, just before the stroke of midnight.
Aug. 31 has been colloquially -- and mistakenly -- referred to as the "waiver trade deadline" because it occurs about a month after the higher-profile non-waiver Trade Deadline. The "deadline" part of the Aug. 31 description simply means that players acquired after that date are ineligible to be added to the postseason roster by their new teams.
• Trade Waivers & Aug. 31 "Deadline"
For example, last Sept. 13, the Blue Jays acquired infielder Darwin Barney from the Dodgers, but because Barney was acquired after Aug. 31, he was ineligible for the postseason roster and did not appear with Toronto in either the American League Division Series vs. the Rangers or the AL Championship Series vs. the Royals.
Got all that? Good.
Because if you thought the July 31 deadline moves that resulted in new homes for big names including Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Mark Melancon, Carlos Beltrán, Jonathan Lucroy, Josh Reddick, Rich Hill, Matt Moore and Matt Duffy signaled the end of high profile wheeling and dealing for 2016, you might have another thing coming in the next three days.
There are impact players still available, and there are teams out there looking for help in a hurry.
Here are five of the biggest names to watch before the clock strikes midnight on Wednesday.
Yasiel Puig, Dodgers: The talented outfielder who has been tearing up Triple-A was reportedly claimed by an unknown team on Tuesday.The Dodgers can revoke the waivers and keep Puig, they can let him and his contract go to the claiming club with nothing in return or they can attempt to work out a trade with the claiming club. Puig is signed through 2018 and is owed a total of $17.3 million over the final two seasons of his deal.
According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, it is more likely that Puig will be traded in the offseason when the Dodgers can negotiate with 29 other teams, as opposed to just one.
Ryan Braun, Brewers: The Dodgers reportedly inquired about the availability of the 32-year-old former National League MVP before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, but there's still $76 million left on his contract, so any deal for him to land big-time prospects would likely cost Milwaukee a portion of his remaining salary, a common theme at this time of year with available players.
Brian McCann, Yankees: With the emergence of phenom Gary Sánchez at and behind the plate in the Bronx, McCann suddenly seems all the more expendable, but the $17 million a year he's guaranteed next year and in 2018 make a potential trade -- Atlanta has been mentioned as a possible landing spot for the former Brave -- somewhat complicated.
Ervin Santana, Twins: Santana has a 3.54 ERA this season and a 2.65 ERA since the All-Star break. He is signed to a pricey contract, with what is left of $13.5 million this year plus that same full total for the next two years after this. A scenario could be foreseen in which the Twins pay some of his salary to get a quality prospect or two in return considering postseason contenders looking for extra arms might find this right-hander attractive at this stage of the season.
James Shields, White Sox: Shields came to Chicago in an early June deal with the Padres but has been inconsistent for the White Sox. Chicago could decide to unload him by Wednesday but will have to deal with another large contract situation. The veteran righty is about to finish up the second season in a four-year, $75 million contract. San Diego agreed to pay approximately $31 million of that.
Others who could get dealt this week:Matt Kemp, Nick Markakis, Kurt Suzuki, Joakim Soria, Kendrys Morales, Boone Logan
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.