ARLINGTON, TX : Josh Beckett #19 of the Boston Red Sox throws against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
What, you thought you could escape Josh Beckett trade rumors just because the trade deadline is Tuesday at 4 pm? The trade deadline is a bit of a shorthand title that ends up being misleading, as it's just the deadline for non-waiver trades. By placing someone on waivers, a team gives themselves the chance to deal a player once they've cleared -- they can always pull them back if they're claimed and the goal isn't just to shed themselves of a contract or player.
According to Rob Bradford, a waiver trade is what the Red Sox and Rangers are now currently discussing -- or have discussed a future discussion of, at least -- with Josh Beckett. Beckett is owed roughly $37 million over the two-plus years remaining on his contract, so it's unlikely that anyone would claim him on waivers, for fear the Red Sox wouldn't pull him back. It might seem funny to interfere with waivers of a competitor by placing a claim on someone who will just need to be pulled back, but it can be costly with the wrong player, since you could get stuck holding a pretty hefty check.
Assuming Beckett clears waivers in August, Boston and Texas would have more time to negotiate a deal. Since Beckett is under contract for two more years after 2012, he would still retain plenty of trade value, unlike a rental who just had a month or so left on their deal by this point. The Red Sox will have a better sense of where they stand in the playoff race, one in which, as of now, they sit four games back of. The Rangers will better know if they need Beckett, and would have had other opportunities to scout him and gauge their belief in his future. It's a patient play that works out for both sides.
Don't expect Boston to acquire the kind of names thrown around in the Zack Greinke negotiations, such as top prospect Mike Olt, as even though Beckett has years left on his deal compared to Greinke's months, the latter was far cheaper from a monetary standpoint. The Rangers tend to pay up for trades, though, especially for players under contract -- last year Mike Adams brought the Padres a pair of top 100 pitching prospects, while the Rangers threw Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter to the Orioles for Koji Uehara* -- so don't go into this thinking Boston is going to get stiffed, either. Texas still has a very deep and talented farm system, and if Beckett is dealt, it's likely Boston's own would get some new toys.
*Yeah, yeah, I know. Tommy Hunter. But Chris Davis was just 25, and there was/is reason to believe he was going to turn out to be a pretty good hitter.
This could all turn out to be moot if Boston keeps winning series against clubs with winning records, as they'll be in this thing then, possibly too much so to move Beckett in-season. If the Tigers take the next two, though, and things start go to back downhill for a bit, then the chances are much higher that Boston and Texas revisit these negotiations in August.