ESPN's Buster Olney reports that Daisuke Matsuzaka was placed on waivers recently. The timing of this statement has much to do with Monday's start against the Royals, in which Dice-K came off of the disabled list to throw seven innings with just one unearned run allowed, shaving his ERA down from 6.55 to 5.10.
Matsuzaka has been better than his ERA suggests in his return from Tommy John surgery, as he's posting his best K/BB since his rookie season in 2007, while throwing strikes 66 percent of the time. His July 2 start against the A's, in which he allowed five runs in one inning of work in part due to the trapezius strain that sent him back to the DL, is in large part responsible for things being as out of hand as they are. Subtract that from the mix, and Dice-K has a 3.72 ERA that matches up better with his 4.19 FIP than his current ERA does.
That's fudging the numbers a bit, though, especially for a pitcher who tends to come up lame as often as Matsuzaka. There's no guarantee another disaster start doesn't loom if he doesn't feel 100 percent before the year is out, and even if there wasn't, this is a fairly small sample we're looking at. That being said, Dice-K is likely the healthiest he's been in a few years right now, so if there were ever a time to gamble on him, it would be now, when he has a little over a month left on his contract.
Matsuzaka hasn't officially been connected to any team, nor are there reports of his being claimed, but a few National League clubs could be interested in his services. The Pirates released Erik Bedard on Tuesday morning. The Nationals will shut down Stephen Strasburg before year's end, and having another arm around as insurance isn't the worst plan. The Dodgers, who partnered with Boston for a massive trade just last week, could also use another starting pitcher.
It's not known if Boston is looking to deal Daisuke Matsuzaka, but it's very likely they're open to it, especially given the state of their season, and the prices one might pay under the duress of desperation at this late stage of the year. Dice-K would need to be dealt before September 1 in order to be eligible for a team's playoff roster, though, he can still be traded afterward as a regular season-only piece.