August ushers in waiver deal options
Could be a busy month as contenders eye waiver wire
One Trade Deadline has passed. The next deadline is 30 days away and counting.
There's still hope for contending teams looking to add a player for a postseason run. The difference between this month and last: Deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players have cleared waivers.
Dealings this month are significant because a player must be added to the Major League roster by midnight Aug. 31 to be eligible for postseason play. The non-waiver Trade Deadline ended Friday, July 31.
"For the most part it's pretty straight-forward," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "Teams put a majority of their guys out there (on waivers). There is some strategy of when you put guys out and how you group the players but you can only put seven out per day. It's pretty transparent in what you are trying to do."
When a player is put on waivers, he must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams, he cannot be traded. However, the team that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request in order to keep the player, or let the player go to the claiming team. The claiming team would then have the rights to the player and would absorb the player's contract.
A waiver is a permission granted for certain assignments of player contracts. If more than one club in the same league makes a claim on a player's contract, then the club lower in the standings at the time gets the player. If clubs in both leagues claim the player, preference goes to the club in the same league as the club requesting waivers.
Among the many goals teams try to accomplish during this period is to add a star player or depth at a position for a postseason push. One reason teams place players are waivers is to unload salaries.
With that in mind, this month could be busy.
After the non-waiver Trade Deadline last season, the D-backs acquired current Nationals outfielder Adam Dunn from the Reds for Micah Owings on Aug. 11. Later in the month, the team added David Eckstein from Toronto.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers acquired Gregg Maddux from the Padres last August and the Phillies added Matt Stairs after he was designated for assignment by Toronto. Stairs hit a game-winning home run in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers during Philadelphia's run to a World Series title.
Could Dunn be this year's Stairs? Maybe. Dunn could be on the move again this season, along with a group of players that might include Milwaukee's Bill Hall and Mike Cameron, Houston's LaTroy Hawkins and San Francisco's Rich Aurilia.
The list of Reds that could potentially be moved this month includes four players who were rumored to be on the trading block in July -- Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Francisco Cordero and David Weathers. In Cleveland, pitcher Kerry Wood, who is owed the remainder of his $10 million salary this year and $10.5 million in 2010, could be moved from a club that made headlines by trading Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez earlier in the week.
Royals left-handed reliever Ron Mahay could clear waivers and be dealt to anyone who'll pick up the rest of his $4 million contract because he could help a contender that needs a lefty out of the bullpen.
Additionally, White Sox pitchers Octavio Dotel and Bartolo Colon could find themselves on new teams. Dotel is owed the remainder of his $6 million contract for 2009 and Colon is due the rest of his $1 million salary.
But, teams should not hold their breath waiting for Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay this month. He wasn't traded during the non-waiver period and won't likely be moved anytime soon.
"I don't think that's going to happen," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "For the next two months, Doc should be right here."
Although it can be fruitful, trading after the non-waiver period can be complicated.
And claiming a player off waivers simply to block a competitor from acquiring him can be a risky and costly move.
"It's a real factor, a consideration for a lot of clubs, it definitely is for us," Daniels said. "You just have to be careful. Obviously, there's the competitive element of blocking players, but you also have the financial reality that you end up with a contract you don't want. It's always been that way but with the state of the economy, there are consequences."
Moreover, players remain on the waiver wire for two full business days. If they are not claimed, they can be traded at any point, to any team for the remainder of the season. If a player is claimed by a team and a deal never materializes, a team will not likely place them back on waivers. When they initially place a player on waivers, a team has the right to pull them back at any time. But when a player is placed on waivers a second time, the claim is irrevocable. Thus any claiming team owns the rights. The process is confidential.
There are still more than two months of the season remaining. Let the trades begin -- again.
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.