(Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports)
On Monday night, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported Houston Astros closer Chad Qualls was claimed on revocable waivers and starter Scott Feldman cleared them. Now, this morning, ESPN’s Peter Gammons is reporting the Detroit Tigers were the team who claimed Qualls.
So, what does all that mean?
Let’s start with Qualls (since he was the one actually claimed.) The Astros now have until Wednesday to make a decision on the veteran reliever and can do one of three things:
"1. Trade him to the Tigers2. Let him go to the Tigers for nothing (not happening)3. Pull him back off waivers and keep him the rest of the season"
I figured it would be a team like the Tigers or Yankees (AL teams who are in tight playoff races) that claimed Qualls and Detroit could really use the bullpen help with Joe Nathan and Joakim Soria struggling this season. Qualls has a 3.07 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 38 strikeouts, and 14 saves in 17 chances during 44 innings pitched this year. He’s an incredible valuable and reliable arm in the bullpen for the Astros (who have really needed relievers this season.) The 36-year-old is signed through the 2015 season and the club has an option on him for 2016 (worth just $3.5MM).
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With such a cheap and team-friendly contract, I doubt the Astros are looking to trade their best relief pitcher unless they get blown away by the Tigers offer. In the end, I think the Astros will just pull him back off waivers and hold on to him for the rest of the season. Qualls has continuously said he wants to end his career in Houston and he’s been very good as the Astros closer this year. Unless Detroit gets desperate enough to offer the Astros a good prospect or two (we all know Jeff Luhnow loves to sell high), Qualls is most likely staying put.Scott Feldman
(Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
As for Feldman, the team now has until August 31st to trade the veteran right-hander to any team. He is 7-10 this season with a 4.34 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 83 strikeouts, and 43 walks in 24 starts (143 innings.) Although he had his struggles earlier in the season, Feldman has thrown a quality start in nine of his previous 12 games. He has a 3.70 ERA in his last six starts (17 ER in 43.1 innings) and has shown he could help a playoff team down the stretch. Last night against the A’s, Feldman pitched seven innings and gave up seven hits, three earned runs, and one walk while striking out five.
Feldman can be dealt anytime over the course of the regular season, but has to be traded before August 31st to be eligible for a team’s playoffs roster. He signed a three-year, $30 million dollar contract with Houston over the offseason and the deal is broken up like this: $12 million this season, $10 million next season, and $8 million in 2016. (The fact Feldman’s contract only gets cheaper certainly does helps his value some.)
The most likely scenario is neither players gets traded because it can be very tricky to work out a fair deal this time of the year. I know Luhnow is always looking to add talented prospects, especially with the Astros so far out of contention right now, but it would take a lot to get either veteran pitcher out of Houston. It was smart for the Astros to put Qualls and Feldman on waivers in case any team gets desperate, but in the end, when this is all over, I expect both to still be Astros.