Examining Waiver Activity Over The Past Year

Last April, I used MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker to take a look at the players who had the somewhat unfortunate distinction of having been claimed on waivers multiple times. Examples of this type of player are formerly well-regarded prospects with some upside left, relievers with a flaw, or utility players that are good enough to be on a 25-man roster but not so good that they are deemed irreplaceable. My look at the players who had been claimed three and even four times in a span of 365 days prompted another question in my mind: Which general managers have been the most active on the waiver wire?

The exercise was interesting enough that I made a point to do so again in 2014. Upon looking back I was a bit surprised to see that not one player was claimed off waivers four times, as last year three players — Russ Canzler, Sandy Rosario and Chris Schwinden — found themselves packing their bags and moving on four different occasions. Not only were there no four-claim players, but this season presented a smaller amount of three-claim players, when the 2012-13 sample I studied had produced five three-claim players. My first glimpse came from studying April 17, 2012 to April 17, 2013; with that in mind, before I continue further, here are the players who were claimed multiple times from the date of that post to April 17, 2014:

  • Liam Hendriks: Hendriks was originally designated for assignment by the Twins to make room for Phil Hughes, and he was quickly claimed by the Cubs. Chicago wasted little time in trying to sneak him through waivers, only to lose him to the Orioles, who eventually lost him to the Blue Jays when Hendriks was the DFA casualty to make room for Ubaldo Jimenez. Still just 25, Hendriks has looked great in five Triple-A appearances (three starts) for Toronto thus far.
  • Adam Rosales: Rosales may be the most interesting case, as all of his team changes occurred between the division-rival A’s and Rangers. Originally DFA’ed by Oakland, Texas claimed him and designated him after just one weekend. When Oakland claimed him back and was again forced to DFA him, Texas was awarded the winning claim. The versatile utility infielder is hitting very well at Triple-A Round Rock, slashing .240/.380/.467 with four homers.
  • Jimmy Paredes: Paredes jumped from the Astros to the Marlins to the Orioles to the Royals. Jeff Baker‘s signing in Miami and the addition of Suk-Min Yoon in Baltimore led to his final two departures from a 40-man roster. He hit .319/.319/.447 in 11 Triple-A games before being called up to Kansas City’s big league roster, though he’s yet to start a game or even have a plate appearance as a Royal (he has appeared in three games as a pinch-runner).

In addition to that trio, each of Pedro Beato, Alex Castellanos, Maikel Cleto, Pedro Figueroa, Chris Gimenez, Brett Marshall, Brent Morel, Rafael Ortega, Andy Parrino and Matt Tuiasosopo were claimed off waivers twice.

The reason behind the lack of three- and four-claim players could be a very simple one: From April 17, 2012 to April 17, 2013, there were 133 waiver claims processed in Major League Baseball which resulted in a player changing teams (excluding the Rule 5 Draft, which is technically a waiver claim). From April 17, 2013 to April 17, 2014, there were 96 waiver claims processed that led to a player switching teams.

Particularly absent from the waiver market were the previously highly active Blue Jays and Yankees. In the 2012-13 period I examined, Alex Anthopoulos made an incredible 22 waiver claims, while his New York counterpart, Brian Cashman, claimed 14 players. Those same two GMs combined for just eight waiver claims in the 2013-14 period, with Toronto claiming six players and New York claiming just two. Here’s a look at the breakdown of each team/GM’s activity on the waiver wire, sorted by the change in their activity:

Team General Manager 2012-13 Claims 2013-14 Claims Net Change
Rangers Jon Daniels 5 13 8
White Sox Rick Hahn 2 5 3
Angels Jerry Dipoto 2 5 3
Dodgers Ned Colletti 0 3 3
Reds Walt Jocketty 0 2 2
Nationals Mike Rizzo 1 3 2
Royals Dayton Moore 5 6 1
Cardinals John Mozeliak 1 2 1
Diamondbacks Kevin Towers 5 5 0
Braves Frank Wren 2 2 0
Tigers Dave Dombrowski 1 1 0
Astros Jeff Luhnow 7 7 0
Mariners Jack Zduriencik 1 1 0
Rays Andrew Friedman 2 2 0
Rockies Dan O’Dowd 0 0 0
Marlins Larry Beinfest/Dan Jennings 3 2 -1
Brewers Doug Melvin 4 3 -1
Twins Terry Ryan 3 2 -1
Mets Sandy Alderson 2 1 -1
Phillies Ruben Amaro Jr. 2 1 -1
Giants Brian Sabean 3 1 -2
Cubs Jed Hoyer 10 8 -2
Red Sox Ben Cherington 2 0 -2
Athletics Billy Beane 8 5 -3
Padres Josh Byrnes 5 2 -3
Orioles Dan Duquette 8 4 -4
Pirates Neal Huntington 5 1 -4
Indians Chris Antonetti 8 2 -6
Yankees Brian Cashman 14 2 -12
Blue Jays Alex Anthopoulos 22 6 -16

On the flip side, it makes some sense to see fairly active teams such as the Pirates and Indians experience a decrease in the number of claims they were awarded. Pittsburgh finished the 2013 season by ending 21-year playoff drought, meaning they had one of baseball’s best records for the first time in years. Cleveland improved its record by 24 games from 2012 to 2013, meaning their improved record likely prevented them from acquiring some players. (Their improved roster also had fewer holes that needed to be filled.)As you can see, the Rangers experienced the largest jump in waiver activity despite maintaining a strong record throughout the season, perhaps indicating that Daniels and his staff were more aggressive in placing claims. Of the 96 waiver claims that were processed, 12.5 percent of the claims were awarded to the Rangers. Factoring in the five players –Rosales, Castellanos, Ortega, Joey Butler and Julio Borbon — that Texas also lost on waivers to another organization, the Rangers were involved in 17.7 percent of all waiver claims over the one-year span from my last examination to this year’s.

Perhaps the most curious trend continues to be the Rockies’ lack of activity on the waiver wire. As the Transaction Tracker shows, the last successful claim the Rockies made was more than two years ago when they claimed right-hander Adam Ottavino off waivers from the Cardinals on April 3, 2012.

Note: This post does include the Rangers’ claim of Charlie Leesman off release waivers from the White Sox last April, as Leesman rejected the assignment and elected free agency. Additionally, though some have reported the Rays’ acquisition of Wesley Wright last August as a waiver claim, the Astros announced that they received cash considerations in exchange for Wright in their press release. That transaction was considered a trade and is not included in these results.

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2 Comments on "Examining Waiver Activity Over The Past Year"

1 year 3 months ago

I always liked Russ Canzler. Too bad Manny Acta never gave him a fair chance to show what he could do with the big club. He was our best hitter in ST when he was with us, but Emperor Manny sent him down. Kind of like what Francona did this spring to Nyjer Morgan. With the Indians, the phrase that comes to mind is “History repeats itself.”

1 year 3 months ago

You have a typo somewhere in Sabean’s tally. Should be at -2 not 0 net year to year.