Color me skeptical, but ESPN’s Buster Olney says all of the following starting pitchers have already cleared waivers and are eligible to be traded: Chris Capuano, Bruce Chen, Tom Gorzelanny, Ted Lilly, Rodrigo Lopez, Jason Vargas, Chien-Ming Wang and Carlos Zambrano.
It’s largely Vargas’ presence that causes me to question the list. It’s very hard to believe no one would have put a claim in on a Mariners left-hander who has a 4.01 ERA this year, makes just $2.45 million this season and is under control through 2013. Vargas owed much of his success last year to Safeco, but he actually has a 3.88 ERA in 10 road starts this season. Common sense dictates that several teams would have put a claim in on him.
Capuano, Chen and Gorzelanny were also pretty claimable with their modest salaries and decent records this year. Capuano is 9-10 with a 4.51 ERA for the Mets, Chen is 7-5 with a 4.15 ERA for the Royals and Gorzelanny is 2-6 with a 4.50 ERA for the Nationals. Their salaries this year are $1.5 million, $2 million and $2.1 million, respectively, though Capuano and Chen do have incentives that would have increased a claiming team’s financial responsibilities.
The others did figure to slip through waivers. Zambrano was a given. Lilly, who is in the first year of a three-year, $33 million deal, is 7-12 with a 4.71 ERA. Both Zambrano and Lilly have no-trade protection anyway and thus couldn’t have been given away on waivers without their permission. Wang has allowed 12 runs — six earned — in 15 innings since returning from a two years off due to shoulder problems. Lopez is 3-3 with a 4.78 ERA while splitting time between the rotation and the pen for the Cubs.