The term “waivers” means different things to different people. It is a term that pops up quite often at this time of year with much heavy breathing and gnashed teeth. During the Aaron Hill/John McDonald press conference yesterday, Jays GM and demigod Alex Anthopoulos said something very telling, something worth bringing to just about everyone’s attention.

During yesterday’s presser, Anthopoulos said something to the effect of “we put every single one of our players through waivers, it is club policy.” These revocable waivers are not an indictment of the player nor do the signify the end of each player’s time in town. It is merely another means to establish the value of a player. This means even Jose Bautista’s name gets floated on the waiver wire, if Alex Anthopoulos is to be believed.

MLB Trade Rumours tracks all the players who actually clear waivers, based on published reports. If a player is claimed, the teams can attempt working out a deal or they can replicate the Alex Rios Hot Potato Experiment with the claiming team responsible for the player’s full salary.

If the teams cannot reach a deal and the original team isn’t about to let the player just walk, they pull the player back and everyone goes about their business. Teams can use the waiver wire strategically, blocking competing teams from selecting the missing puzzle piece. This seems to be a favorite move of Giants GM Brian Sabean. Parkes suggests Sabean selected Padres closer Heath Bell to prevent the Arizona Diamondbacks from bolstering their bullpen. Last year, the Giants blocked Cody Ross from joining the Padres only to see Ross become a key player in their run to the World Series championship and their subsequent title defense.

This might be common knowledge for most Getting Blanked readers but the concept can be confusing if you aren’t a basement-dwelling anti-social like me (and you, in all likelihood.) Credit the Jays for looking for every edge (shocking!) and credit to you for not freaking out when you heard your favorite player was on waivers, you cagey old dog.

Comments (15)

  1. Thanks for the summary. My only question has always been – If I’m a potential playoff team, why wouldn’t I just put in a claim on everyone with an OK contract that gets to my waiver priority spot just to ensure no one clears waivers and thus preventing other potential playoff teams from making a deal and upgrading their team? There seems to be no downside (except for Alex Rios type contracts).

    • Clearing space on the 40 man roster is the first thing that jumps out at me.

      Besides, unless the waiving team doesn’t want the player at all, they’ll just pull him back rather than getting him for less than they intend.

      • Thanks, but what I meant was this.

        If I’m Detroit, why don’t I just claim eveyone that is on waivers and then purposely not do a deal. That way Boston, New York and Texas have no chance of ever getting better.

        Or are you saying you have to have space on your 40 man to even make a claim? Thereby preventing my massive claim everyone strategy.

        • Hmmm, good question. That could result in the team just walking away with the Rios being your Rios. Alex Rios.

        • The point is, there is more risk than deliberately not dealing in good faith. if your team put a claim on every player you could find yourself in the situation of being forced to take every player and his contract. That is what happened to the Yankees with Jose Canseco. They had not interest but didn’t want the Sox to have him. Unfortunately, his team said, Sure, take him. And they had to. So they were stuck with a player they didn’t want for a price that didn’t want to pay and had to clear space for him.

  2. I actually have had a question on this and it might be a stupid one but does it just come down to timing in picking up a player off waivers or is there something more organized than shouting “got him!!”?

  3. Worst record in the same league*

    Take Thome for instance, he could have been claimed by the Yankees before the Astros because there is league priority

  4. If the two teams can’t work out a deal then the player must be pulled back off waivers and can’t be kept out there to see if another deal can be made? They just have one shot with the first team to claim? So many questions, I think I need to spend 2 weeks alone in my basement just to figure it out.

    And I believe it’s pronounced “got heeeeeeem”

  5. Once a player gets waived, all teams have a 48 hour window to make the claim; the claiming team with the highest priority is said to “win the claim”, and then have something like 44 business hours to work out a deal. If the two teams don’t work out a deal, the waiving team can either pull the player back or let the claiming team just “have heeeeeeeeem”

    • But remember that there is a second shoe that can drop: a waiving team can simply agree to the claim and release the player outright to the claiming team. That player–and whatever payroll remains on his contract–now belongs to the claiming team. Also, a player who is claimed–I believe–must be put on the active roster. So you can’t claim a player and then send him to the minors. So there can be real risk to using waivers as a strategy to deprive other teams of players.

  6. Why have a trade deadline then, or any rules? Doesn’t this “strategy” basically make a trade deadline into a joke?

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