I used an exclamation point here, but there’s really nothing particularly exciting about this story.
For the sake of completeness, though, let’s go through it…
Sometime between August 1st and last night, Mark DeRosa, like practically every other player in the Majors (save Joe Mauer, who will be spared the indignity because of a whole bunch of confused Twins fans), was placed on revocable (i.e. they can be revoked) trade waivers.
We understand how this works, yes? Guys who get placed on waivers and don’t get claimed may be traded during the month of August (that’s why you’ll sometimes see July 31st referred to as the “non-waiver” trade deadline). Occasionally, though, players do get claimed. When that happens the player’s current club has three options: 1) they can pull the player back from waivers and keep him, 2) they can work out a trade with the club who claimed him, using the fact that they can pull the player back off waivers as leverage to get something in return, or 3) they can let the claiming club take the player, as well as the entirety of his contract– as the Jays did when the White Sox put a claim in on Alex Rios four years ago.
So, inevitably Bautista and Encarnacion will go on waivers, someone will put a claim on those terrific contracts, and the Jays will pull them back. Shit, the Jays would likely even pull back Mark Buehrle if he gets claimed. The whole thing just isn’t a big deal.
Yet here we are, with breathless reports last night from ol’ Kenny Ken Ken about how Mark DeRosa had been claimed by someone. Or… maybe not breathless. And it’s not exactly like Rosenthal’s hyping something up– he’s just doing his job. It’s just… well… here’s how it all unfolded:
6:49 PM ET:
Sources: #BlueJays’ DeRosa claimed on waivers. Team has until tomorrow to trade him, let him go or pull him back. Claiming team not known.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 8, 2013
10:13 PM ET:
And there you have it. Most of it, at least.
DeRosa likely isn’t going anywhere for some scrub PTBNL (as he’d surely only fetch) or for a modicum of salary relief. He’s had, in a small sample, a resurgence as a lefty-masher this year (.362 wOBA in 108 PA), and has some defensive versatility. meaning that with a $750K option for 2014 he may just stick around. On those merits alone, that’s a fairly defensible position for the Jays to be taking– especially with the alternative being giving him away for nothing. Of course, there’s also matter of his being some kind of clubhouse wizard who is going to impart a winning mentality to every teammate he greets with his presence, which, of course didn’t quite happen as planned this year because… y’know… it’s all a bunch of bullshit and talented baseball players win games, not happy clubhouse ghosts.
This exchange has pretty much got it:
#jays hung onto to derosa because he’s great in clubhouse and they hold ’14 option. fwiw the 1 claiming team was below .500
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) August 8, 2013
@JonHeymanCBS So basically all the teams with winning records don’t care that DeRosa is great in the clubhouse. Got it.
— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) August 8, 2013
But hey, he’s likable. That’s cool. I mean, if the 25th man on team’s roster is going to some fungible fill-in with one nice platoon split and the ability to not embarrass himself at a couple of positions anyway, I can’t fault a team for wanting him to be someone who doesn’t consistently make teammates choke on their own scorn. Let’s just not keep pretending that by sheer force of personality he can turn a bad team into a good one, because if that kind of clubhouse stuff actually matters at all, it matters so microscopically slightly compared to, y’know, talent as to be entirely inconsequential.