Will Sam Fuld be Claimed on Waivers?

By Jason Wojciechowski on April 5, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Susan Slusser raises the question of whether Sam Fuld will get designated for assignment after his impressive spring and 3-for-9 start to the year, including a near inside the park homer, when Craig Gentry comes back. The obvious answer is "yes" because the roster doesn't seem to make sense any other way, what with there not being any playing time available for Fuld if he and Gentry are both around and with nobody else having options, unless the team wants to send down Eric Sogard and go with lineups that look something like

v. LHP

C: Norris
1B: Barton
2B: Punto
SS: Lowrie
3B: Donaldson
LF: Fuld
CF: Crisp
RF: Gentry
DH: Cespedes

v. RHP

C: Jaso
1B: Barton
2B: Callaspo
SS: Lowrie
3B: Donaldson
LF: Cespedes
CF: Crisp
RF: Reddick
DH: Moss

Is removing Reddick from the lineup against lefties worth the defensive hit you take by having Callaspo at second? Does it make sense, as a matter of managing personalities, to essentially remove Reddick from the lineup against lefties in favor of another lefty, Fuld? Can you send down Sogard without risking full-scale revolt from the fans and the clubhouse? They did Nerd Power Night!

So let's assume Sam Fuld hits the waiver wire. What's the 4th/5th outfield situation look like around the league, keeping in mind that Michael Taylor cleared waivers but also keeping in mind that Michael Taylor is a bat-first player who teams would view differently than the jack-of-all-outfield-trades guy that Fuld is, the legit center fielder who can play the corners well, who can pinch-run, who can start for a week at any position without killing you in any phase of the game if need be. Per MLB Depth Charts, here's what's going on:

Baltimore: Delmon Young, Steve Pearce, and sorta Steve Lombardozzi. Pearce is out of options. They'd have to designate for assignment someone like Steve Johnson to make room for Fuld, and they've got a couple of outfielders on the disabled list as well. They could also swap in Fuld for David Lough as the lefty half of the left-field platoon. Plus we know Baltimore loves the scrap heap.

Boston: Can't imagine them carrying Fuld over Jackie Bradley or Mike Carp.

New York: Ichiro is in the Fuld role. No chance they replace him, though they could go with two catchers instead of three (they're currently carrying both Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine behind Brian McCann) and designate someone like Cesar Cabral or Preston Claiborne for assignment.

Tampa Bay: Logan Forsythe, Brandon Guyer, and Sean Rodriguez are the bench players, and I could see them preferring Fuld to Guyer, especially since, if they end up losing Fuld at some point, they've always got Kevin Kiermaier in the minors.

Toronto: Also carrying three catchers (Dioner Navarro, Erik Kratz, Josh Thole, with Thole the knuckleball receiver), so you could see them dumping Kratz to pair Fuld with the more offense-minded Moises Sierra as backup outfielders.

Chicago: Leury Garcia, Paul Konerko, and Dayan Viciedo is the bench. I don't see much chance here.

Cleveland: Currently has an eight-man bullpen? What? Why?

Detroit: The Tigers have Tyler Collins and Don Kelly backing up a solid starting corps. Collins is apparently not much of a defender, and you really don't want to play Rajai Davis or Torii Hunter in center.

Kansas City: This is a pretty good outfield, with Jarrod Dyson and Justin Maxwell, both out of options, on the bench.

Minnesota: They've got Jason Bartlett in a backup outfield role along with Chris Colabello, who seems pretty DH-y. With Jason Kubel at DH and Eduardo Escobar as backup infielder, I'd take Fuld over Bartlett, but I'm not, as you might have realized, a general manager, so who knows.

Houston: Alex Presley is on the roster in the Fuld role, and maybe you prefer Presley, or maybe you at least prefer not not to make a fuss and hassle just to upgrade from Presley to Fuld for the 23rd spot on the roster on a team that isn't intended to make the playoffs this year.

Anaheim: Collin Cowgill is the backup outfielder, and apparently has options remaining. If that's true, I wonder whether adding Fuld and having Cowgill as minor-league depth might make some sense for the Angels.

Seattle: They have Willie Bloomquist.

Texas: We know they love the ex-A's. They could option Michael Choice, but then they wouldn't really have a platoon partner for Mitch Moreland. They could option James Adduci, but then ... well, actually, they should probably option James Adduci.

Atlanta: This bench seems pretty okay to me: Tyler Pastornicky, Ryan Doumit, and Jordan Schafer can all play some outfield. Schafer is an outfielder, and is out of options to boot. My guess is they pass.

Miami: They've only got one outfielder on the bench, and it's Reed Johnson, but he's right-handed, which is nice with Christian Yelich hitting lefty. On the other hand, you'd probably prefer Fuld to Johnson on defense. On the other other hand, I think making a waiver claim costs money.

New York: There's only one reserve outfielder but three infielders (Wilmer Flores, Omar Quintanilla, Josh Satin). I might take Fuld over Satin.

Philadelphia: John Mayberry, reasonable prospect Cesar Hernandez, and Tony Gwynn, Jr. are the bench outfielders. I don't know what to say.

Washington: I love this outfield. With the starting team of Span, Harper, and Werth, where do you even find time for Scott Hairston and Nate McLouth? I don't see any room.

Chicago: Ryan Kalish and Justin Ruggiano is a nice pair, far as Kalish has fallen. They could option Kalish, but I don't know.

Cincinnati: Do you prefer Fuld to Roger Bernadina enough to make a move?

Milwaukee: There's also a Schafer here (Logan), and the rest of the bench isn't going anywhere.

Pittsburgh: Maybe over Josh Harrison, given that Clint Barmes is already here, but Harrison is more versatile.

St. Louis: The lefty backup outfielder is Jon Jay.

Arizona: It's just Tony Campana, but he is real real fast. Fuld might not be gritty enough.

Colorado: Corey Dickerson is a nice lefty bench outfielder.

Los Angeles: Maybe they DFA Matt Kemp? Maybe!

San Diego: Carrying three catchers, which doesn't seem sustainable.

San Francisco: Fuld vs. Gregor Blanco is another of those "who knows, but is it worth making a change to find out?" situations.

So the reasonably strong possibilities appear to include Baltimore, the Yankees, Tampa, Toronto, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota, Anaheim, Seattle, Texas, the Mets, Philadelphia, and San Diego. That's 13 teams, and even if I've got some wrong, let's assume I've got them wrong in both directions so that there are basically 13 slots for Fuld in the majors. Let's further suppose that I've vastly overestimated the likelihood that those 13 teams claim him, so for each team, there's actually only a 10 percent chance that they put in a claim. Do the math and that works out to only a 25 percent chance that Fuld is not claimed by some team.

Does this mean they should keep him? I don't think the odds of him being claimed are going to go down as the year goes on (though they might not go up either), so holding on to him for a later opportunity to waive him wouldn't really make sense. It's really a plain Sogard vs. Fuld question in terms of the 25-man roster, and I'm, in light of the rest of the roster makeup, not seeing a great argument for Fuld in that case. Root for the 25 percent, I say.