Waiver claims are perhaps the least exciting hot stove transaction, but they can have a very real impact in the standings. Zachary Levine of The Houston Chronicle noted that seven players on the Astros' 40-man roster were originally acquired via waivers, including setup man Wilton Lopez. After being claimed from the Padres in April 2009, Lopez posting a 2.96 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and just 0.7 BB/9 in 67 innings last season.
Using our Transactions Tracker, lets look back at some players who were claimed off waivers in the last three or so years before going on to be productive players for their new teams…
- Craig Breslow, LHP – Breslow bounced around quite a bit before the A's poached him from the Twins in May 2009. He's pitched to a 2.84 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 130 innings with Oakland.
- Todd Coffey, RHP – The burly right-hander was claimed off waivers by the Brewers from the Reds in September 2008, after which he posted a 3.52 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 153 1/3 innings for Milwaukee.
- Casey McGehee, 3B – Another waiver gem by the Brewers, they grabbed McGehee from the Cubs in October 2008. In the two seasons since, he's hit .291/.346/.477 with 39 homers in 1,064 plate appearances.
- Dan Meyer, LHP – Once the headliner in the Tim Hudson trade, the Marlins selected Meyer from the A's in November 2008. He pitched very well in 2009 (3.09 ERA, 8.6 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 in 58 1/3 innings) before falling apart in 2010.
- Darren O'Day, RHP – The Mets let O'Day go on waivers in April 2009 after selecting him from the Angels in the Rule 5 Draft. All the submariner has done since is post a 1.99 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 117 2/3 innings as a Ranger.
- Eric O'Flaherty, LHP – The Braves claimed O'Flaherty off waivers from the Mariners in November 2008, and he's gone on to pitch to a 2.78 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 100 1/3 innings for Atlanta.
The trend here is relievers. Their performance tends to fluctuate from year-to-year, sometimes wildly, and sometimes a change of scenery can be all it takes to unlock potential.
Other players like Alex Rios, Manny Ramirez, and Cody Ross were claimed off waivers as well, both those transactions were driven by shedding salary more than anything else. The list of players above were more or less given up on by their original clubs.