So we have it by a reliable source, Jon Heyman, that the Astros have placed Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers on waivers. Ken Rosental confirmed it, so we can assume it has happened today. We could rag on Ed Wade for not trading both before the non-waiver trade deadline, because now this appears to be simply a case of salary dumping one, if not both. Zachary Levine adds that Clint Barmes may have been placed on waivers too.
If you want an explanation of waivers, this is a pretty clear guide from Jayson Stark back in 2004. Teams have two business days to claim any of them. If no team claims them, the Astros are free to trade them anywhere. If any of the three is claimed, the Astros have an additional two days to work out a deal.
It seems that Heyman's assertion that Jim Crane wanted to gut payroll was correct, but we need not necessarily view that as a bad thing. If I were Wade I would want Myers and Carlos Lee off the books if I had the choice. In the phase the franchise is going through it makes little sense to be spending that sort of money on decidedly average players.
Crane may want to get the major league payroll down to $50m because he wants to free up money for the amateur draft, both international and domestic. Perhaps over the next few years we will see the Astros spending the sorts of amounts the Pirates and Nationals have done since 2007. If they have the number one pick for 2012, something likely to happen, then they will have to spend a significant amount to get that pick signed. His next move is going to be luring Brandon Lyon and his $5m out into the woods and then bam.
But I have not mentioned Wandy Rodriguez. I have said repeatedly that I think fans and baseball people undervalue Rodriguez by a lot. A salary dump on Rodriguez would not satisfy me. But would it be better than getting a top prospect before the non-waiver deadline at the expense of having to eat half of the remaining $36m odd on his contract? That was apparently the choice Wade had to make on 31 July.
I wrote in January, a week before the Astros offered Rodriguez a contract, that one way or the other Wade had to make a decision on his future. Either trade him or offer him a contract extension. To do neither would be the worst decision by far.
Trading him away in July or offering him arbitration next winter and taking a compensation pick if he declined would be viewed as bucking a decision rather than making one.
Hindsight. Wonderful thing. But I have trouble understanding the logic behind teams probably queuing up to trade for Rodriguez if he were a free agent at the end of the 2011 season, and then not wanting anything to do with him, when he's signed to what I perceive to be a fairly mild three-year contract. Three years $36m for Rodriguez is far greater value than for any pitcher you would get on the FA market this off-season. Its true.
But as bad as some people think the Astros will be over the next one or two seasons, is it worth having Rodriguez here earning the sort of money he is? Having traded away Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt, surely the team can survive the loss of Wandy? Perhaps Crane is trying to save money because he is going to make a run at re-signing Berkman as a free agent this winter, in order to right past wrongs.
The Barmes move is less easy to understand. Wade was reportedly reluctant to talk shop over the shortstop and pulled him off the market pretty early in July. Maybe he wanted a sneaky few weeks to see if he could re-sign Barmes for 2012, and having been rebuffed he wants to trade him and get something back. Who knows.
Perhaps Wade knows. There's no point judging a move before it has even been made. Perhaps this is all part of his master plan, and we just can't see it all unfolding. We'll know by some time next week if this is really the case.