Monday, August 23, 2010

Say What? Waiver Rules and Johnny Damon.

Could this be in our future?

First of all, everybody take a nice, deep breath. There are 48 hours between the time that the Red Sox put a waiver claim on the oft-maligned Johnny Damon and the time that some action must be taken.

I understand that Red Sox Nation is currently in an uproar, which does nothing but expose our collective ignorance of how waiver claims actually work. This is particularly sad because I take pride in the fact that this fan base is always zealous and well-informed, and while the "zealous" part is covered by the shrieking emanating from all of New England, we're clearly not as wicked smahht as we like to think.

But no worries, friends. You don't have to admit to your baseball-obsessed neighbors and coworkers that you don't understand the waiver-wire, because I'm here to help explain.

As I'm sure you know, normal trades must be completed by the July 31st trading deadline, but if you pay attention you will also have noticed that the Sox generally get some new players after that deadline every year (Paul Byrd seems to be an annual favorite).

  • After July 31st, all trades must be done through waivers, and if these players aren't acquired by August 31st, they are not eligible to play in the postseason.
  • Teams can put any players on waivers, and they do not need to tell the players in question.
  • Once a player is on waivers, other teams have 48 hours to put a claim in on that player.
  • If multiple teams put in a claim, the team with the worst record in the league the player is currently on. If no teams from that league make a claim, the player goes to the team with the worst record in the other league.
  • Once a player is claimed, their team has three options:
  1. They can pull the player back. If this happens, he cannot be traded for 30 days.
  2. They can work out a trade with the team that claimed him. Other players in the trade must also pass through waivers UNLESS they are not currently on a 40-man roster.
  3. They can simply give the player to the other team, getting nothing in return, but the new team must pay the player's remaining salary.
  • If no one claims the player, he can be traded to any team in the league.
So what does this mean for the Red Sox and Johnny Damon? First of all, it is very likely that the Red Sox put in a claim simply to stop the Yankees or Rays from getting him; since they are behind both teams in the standings, the Tigers could not trade Damon to New York or Tampa Bay once the Sox claimed him.

However, Damon has a no-trade clause that includes many teams, including Boston, so he can refuse to go, which would still keep him from the Yankees or Rays. Honestly, no Sox fan should be surprised, since there's been rampant speculation that the Sox would claim Manny Ramirez to keep him from their rivals, should he get placed on waivers by the fed-up Dodgers.

As for the wisdom of acquiring Damon? It can't possibly hurt this team's chances any more than the ludicrous 2010 Parade of Carnage, and Damon's former Sox teammates (Varitek, Papi, and Wake, chiefly) seem open to the idea. At this point, what do they have to lose?

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