Explaining August Trades

After one of the slower non-waiver trade deadlines in recent history, we're into August, which doesn't mean that trades are off the table. Teams can still conduct trades in August, but they're more complicated. Here's a rundown of how August trades work…

  • Teams have to pass players through revocable waivers to trade them after the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. Those revocable waivers last 47 hours.
  • Players who go unclaimed after those 47 hours are eligible to be traded to any team for the rest of the season.
  • A team has three options if one of its players is claimed off revocable waivers. That team can either pull the player back without penalty, work out a trade with the claiming team, or simply hand the player and his salary over for nothing. Recent examples of this include the White Sox's acquisition of Alex Rios and the Giants' acquisition of Cody Ross.
  • Teams will often put most of their players on waivers to determine interest. There's no risk in doing so, as they don't have to actually give up a player that is claimed by another team.
  • Regardless of the day of the week (Saturday and Sunday are treated as normal days), clubs have two days (48.5 hours) to deal claimed players. They can only negotiate a trade with the team that was awarded the claim on that player.
  • If only one team claims a player, he can only be dealt to that team.
  • If more than one team claims a player, he can only be traded to the claiming team in the same league with the worst record.
  • If a player is only claimed by teams in the other league, he can only be dealt to the claiming team with the worst record.
  • If a team places a player on waivers a second time after pulling him back, the waivers are no longer revocable. A claiming team would be awarded the player at that point. Obviously, the risk in placing a player on waivers a second time is significant.
  • Teams cannot pass players on the disabled list through waivers. If a player is placed on waivers and then placed on the disabled list the next day, his team must cancel the waiver request.
  • Players acquired after August 31st can't play in the postseason.

There are a few factors that could make this August (and future Augusts) more active on the trade front. The addition of a second Wild Card seems to have made teams less inclined to sell in July. Teams that may have sold in recent years have instead stayed the course and chosen to stand pat, likely with a hope of an August winning streak to push them into contention for one of the newly created playoff spots.

Additionally, the fact that the new CBA prevents teams from receiving draft pick compensation for rental players has made trades more difficult to work out. The CBA states that only players who are with their team for the entire season can receive qualifying offers at season's end. Teams are even more hesitant to part with top prospects for rentals now, as compensatory draft picks no longer soften the blow of dealing premium minor league talent. Because fewer impact players were on the move in July, more teams may be looking to make incremental (or in some cases, major) upgrades in August.

For proof that significant trades are likely still on the horizon, look no further than 2012. Last year, one of the largest trades of the past decade occurred on August 25 when the Red Sox traded Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the Dodgers for James Loney, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Jerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus.

This post is based on an MLBTR post that was originally published by Ben Nicholson-Smith on June 25, 2009. Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts and this article by ESPN.com's Jayson Stark.

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