NEW YORK -- The final day of August, which arrives Sunday, is always an intriguing one on the baseball calendar.
A player must be traded by the end of the day to gain playoff eligibility with his new team.
Active rosters also expand from 25 to up to 40 players when the calendar rolls over to September.
The Phils will have several new faces in the clubhouse Tuesday in Atlanta, the day after Triple A Lehigh Valley’s season ends.
On the trade front, the Phillies have a couple of pitchers in Jonathan Papelbon and A.J. Burnett that have drawn attention from opposing teams for weeks. Both have reportedly cleared waivers and can be traded. The Phillies would welcome the chance to move both players, but the same hurdle that existed a month ago still exists today: Both have partial no-trade clauses and big money attached to their contracts beyond this season.
The Phillies are on record as saying they would eat salary to move players, but even that might not be enough for a team to take Papelbon, who is owed $13 million for next season and has a vesting option at $13 million for 2016. The Tigers have had a consistent need for a closer, but have shown very little interest in Papelbon. Will that change in the final 24 hours before the playoff-eligibility deadline. We’ll see.
The Phils received some nibbles on Burnett, particularly from Kansas City, at the end of July, but his contract gave the Royals pause. Burnett has a player option worth at least $10 million for next season. The value of that option rises to $12.75 million if Burnett makes four more starts. Basically, if Burnett decides to pitch next season — he is up in the air with his decision — he gets that money.
According to a report, the Angels wanted to trade for Burnett if he would have eliminated his player option.
Burnett was asked about that report Saturday.
“No,” he said when asked if anyone approached him about waiving his player option to go to the Angels. “They’re on my no-trade list. I’m here and I expect to stay here.”
Marlon Byrd was blocked on waivers and can’t be traded. It is likely that potentially attractive reliever Antonio Bastardo was also blocked.
As for who comes up from Triple A, well, reliever Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and infielder Cesar Hernandez appear to be slam dunks, and Maikel Franco’s recently red-hot bat is probably too tough to leave behind. Other candidates include infielder Reid Brignac, outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr., and pitchers Jeff Manship, Luis Garcia and Hector Neris. Outfielder John Mayberry Jr. and pitcher Mike Adams, both at Triple A on injury rehab, are also expected to join the club.