First, Derek Lowe was designated for assignment by the Cleveland Indians on Thursday. Today, the Tribe did the same with Johnny Damon while the Detroit Tigers affixed the DFA label on utility player Don Kelly. These are three names who could be useful to contending teams.
Now that August has arrived, many clubs will place players on waivers. In many cases, they do this just to gauge potential interest from other teams, pulling them back off waivers and paving the way for off-season deals. In some instances, players are waived or designated for assignment so non-contenders can shed veterans who are not part of their long-term plans, as the Indians did with Lowe and Damon.
The 39-year-old Lowe opened the season 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA, but he has struggled since and his overall numbers are an 8-10 record and a 5.52 ERA with a 1.65 WHIP in 21 starts. The veteran sinkerballer still could be of use to a team in need of starting pitching depth, like the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and even the Washington Nationals.
Teammates with Lowe on Boston’s 2004 World Series championship team, the 38-year-old Damon was batting .222 with four home runs, 19 RBI and a .610 OPS in 224 plate appearances with Cleveland. Now a below average defensive outfielder, Damon perhaps has value as a bench player on a contending team.
The 32-year-old Kelly was replaced by 26-year-old reserve outfielder Andy Dirks, who was summoned to Detroit from his rehab assignment. Dirks – who is hitting .328 with four home runs, 16 RBI and a .894 OPS in 134 at-bats for the Tigers – was initially sidelined on May 31 with right Achilles tendinitis.
With Raburn (who can also play second base and third base) and utility infielder Ramon Santiago on the active roster, Kelly was expendable. If Kelly is claimed by another team, that club will get a versatile veteran who can play all three outfield positions and the corner infield spots. A career .231 hitter over parts of five Major League seasons, Kelly was hitting .175 in 103 at-bats for the Tigers this season.