Explaining August Trades

The month of July did not end quietly, with a dozen highly impactful trades going down on deadline day. Of course, several contenders weren’t in on the action at all. And for those that were, injury and performance issues will inevitably spring up over the next month. Good for them, then, that teams can still conduct trades in August, even if 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 with the highest waiver priority. The order of priority goes: 1) from worst record to best record among teams in the same league as the club seeking waivers; and then 2) from worst to best among teams in the other league. (In other words, if a player is put on waivers by an AL team, first priority goes to the AL club with the worst record, with the NL club with the worst record in line behind the best AL team.)
  • 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.

For proof that significant trades could still be on the horizon, look no further than 2012. 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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66 Responses to Explaining August Trades Leave a Reply

  1. DippityDoo 1 year ago

    Anyone know the logic behind why the NL worst picks after AL best (and vice versa)? Is it done to help protect players by increasing odds of being in a more familiar environment, best chance for success is what you’re use to playing against?

    • $40129616 1 year ago

      I don’t know, but my first thought is that it’s simply to discourage trades generally by making it more likely the players will stay in the league.

      • BlueSkyLA
        BlueSkyLA 1 year ago

        This sounds right to me. The waiver system is deigned to raise the bar on trades after July 31. Some really big deals can still be negotiated in August, but it’s more possible for another team to get in the way.

        • $40129616 1 year ago

          Right. For example, if a contender places a player on waivers, their biggest rival in the division/league will have a greater opportunity to block the trade by putting in a claim. It makes it harder for contenders to make trades in the leadup to the post-season.

          • craigbhill 12 months ago

            If a high-cost 4th starter is put on waivers and the Dodgers want him, if the Giants claim him first and can’t pay the freight they give up their claim on him and he goes thru to LA.

          • $40129616 12 months ago

            Except if the Giants put in a claim, they either (1) work out a trade, or (2) take on the full contract, or (3) the player goes back to the original team. Once the claim is made, the Giants don’t have the option to not pay the full contract; they have to take the player if the other team wants him to go. I don’t think the Giants can just withdraw their waiver claim and let him pass on to the Dodgers.

        • Karkat 1 year ago

          The guarantee that all your division/wildcard rivals have a chance to claim your guy before anyone in the other league is pretty significant, yeah.

          • BlueSkyLA
            BlueSkyLA 1 year ago

            Of course this can backfire if a team feels the need to claim a player who they really don’t want to keep him from a division rival.

        • craigbhill 12 months ago

          ONLY if a player is not high-salaried. If a team claims him ahead of another that can actually pay for him, the first team is either stuck with him, has to pay his salary if the waivering team wants to make a deal, or doesn’t claim him.

      • Karkat 1 year ago

        I never thought of this before, and it makes so much sense.

        • $40129616 1 year ago

          It give a sort of “veto” power to rival teams in the lead up to the post-season.

    • craigbhill 12 months ago

      No, it’s designed to let teams in your league nab your player before the other league can get at him. That way trading your best can hurt you more.

  2. Garyth 1 year ago

    In the case of the multiplayer trade like the one mentioned between the Dodgers and the Red Sox, do all of the players have to clear waivers or get claimed by the opposing team in the trade?

    • $40129616 1 year ago

      Yes. In the case of the Sox-Dodgers trade, all the Sox players cleared waivers.

      EDIT: Someone above corrected me. Apparently Gonzalez and Beckett were claimed by the Dodgers, while Punto and Crawford cleared waivers.

      • Garyth 1 year ago

        What about the Dodger players?

        • $40129616 1 year ago

          Dunno. Though some were minor leaguers. Maybe waivers don’t apply?

          • Karkat 1 year ago

            De La Rosa and Sands were PTBNLs. Webser and De Jesus were not, if I remember correctly, on LA’s 40-man roster at the time, which I believe made them exempt from waivers?

      • BlueSkyLA
        BlueSkyLA 1 year ago

        My question is about Crawford. I’m pretty sure he was on the DL when he was traded to the Dodgers, but the article says players on the DL can’t be placed on waivers.

        • Stuart Brown 1 year ago

          Crawford cleared waivers earlier in the month (August 10th at the latest it looks) and had Tommy John two days before the trade on August 23. So if they clear waivers before hitting the DL, it doesn’t appear to be an issue.

          • BlueSkyLA
            BlueSkyLA 1 year ago

            Then the statement in the article is confusing at least, since it says that a player on waivers who goes on the DL has to be removed from waivers. I don’t think it means just “the next day.”

        • $40129616 1 year ago

          He may have cleared waivers before being put on the DL. Once a player clears waivers, he may be traded at any time through the rest of the year, even if he is subsequently put on the DL. He may not be simultaneously on waivers and the DL.

          • BlueSkyLA
            BlueSkyLA 1 year ago

            Maybe that’s right, but it isn’t what the article says.

          • $40129616 1 year ago

            I think it’s consistent with what the article says:

            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 who “are on” the DL cannot go through waivers. Players who are “on waivers” and placed on the DL must be removed from waivers. But players who have passed through waivers are no longer “on” waivers, and may be placed on the DL.

          • $40129616 1 year ago

            I think that’s consistent with what the article says. Once a player has “passed through” waivers he is no longer “on” waivers, and can be put on the DL. He cannot by “on” both the DL and waivers at the same time. That’s all.

          • BlueSkyLA
            BlueSkyLA 1 year ago

            Ah, that might be the subtle distinction I was missing, Thanks.

  3. grimsan 1 year ago

    So in that huge Aug 25, 2012 trade, all the players involved passed through revocable waivers?? I have a hard time believing everyone slipped through unclaimed

    • Stuart Brown 1 year ago

      They didn’t. Gonzalez and Beckett were claimed by the Dodgers. De La Rosa was supposedly claimed by the Blue Jays and pulled back and then included as a player to be named later (which seems a bit like cheating).

      At that point in the season Gonzalez and Beckett probably would’ve cleared anyway given that the teams behind them in the waiver order would’ve been the Cardinals, Reds, Giants, and Braves, none of which would look to add significant salary.

      • Karkat 1 year ago

        It’s not really cheating if you think about the spirit of the rule. The point is to limit the ability of player movement in the last two months of the season. By taking the PTBNL route, those minor leaguers can’t go to their future new home until AFTER the season (and I think they also can’t play for their current ML club in the meantime, only minors for what’s left of the MiLB season).

    • RichardGoezinya 12 months ago

      Gonzalez seems to be the only one who wouldn’t have passed.

  4. Brian Swope 1 year ago

    A couple people tried to answer this question, but weren’t sure of the answer. Do minor leaguers need to pass through waivers?

    • WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 1 year ago

      Yes if they are to be traded immediately however what most teams do in August trades is trade for a minor league PTBNL. Then they acquire the minor leaguers after the season when waivers are not necessary.

      Basically it’s a way around having to pass the MiLB player through waivers which would make August trades next to impossible.

    • bucsws2014 1 year ago

      I’m pretty sure that only applies to minor leaguers that are currently on the 40-man roster. If not on the 40-man, no restrictions apply, as I understand it.

  5. grimsan 1 year ago

    so whats the benefit of waiting until after the Jul-31st deadline other than a few more weeks of changes in the standings?

    • Brian Swope 1 year ago

      One benefit would be increasing trade value. Cliff Lee, for example, had almost no trade value before the deadline (and again has none due to his injury last night), but if he could have proven his health he would have had many suitors.

    • $40129616 1 year ago

      There is no structural benefit. Trades done after the deadline are harder to do. That’s why there’s so much action right before the deadline. Trades that happen after the deadline occur because for whatever reason the teams didn’t get them lined up earlier.

    • WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 1 year ago

      There is no benefit, its more like a second chance to move those hard to trade players. In practice only certain types of player, primarily those with really bad contracts, can be traded after the deadline because a player must clear waiver before a team can negotiate a trade with more than one team.

  6. Mike1L 1 year ago

    Jeff, i wonder if you could add to the post and describe some norms for making blocking claims, gentleman’s agreements not to make claims, etc.

  7. iains 1 year ago

    I wonder if the notification that clubs get show the difference between a revocable waiver and a non-revocable one? Makes one wonder how many teams accidentally got a player they didn’t intend to get in August.

    • $40129616 1 year ago

      I’m confident that the difference is noted when announced. They’re not playing a game of “gotcha.”

    • disgruntledreader 1 year ago

      They do. It’s quite clear. There are very few cases of a claim being awarded outright to a club, and when it happens (a la Rios and Ross), everyone’s eyes are VERY wide open in the process.

  8. grimsan 1 year ago

    Are there repercussions for claiming teams? lets say a player with a nasty contract is sent through waivers. Team B makes a claim to block a rival. could Team B be stuck with that contract if the waiver is not revoked?

    • $40129616 1 year ago

      Yes. Once a claim is placed, Team A is in the driver’s seat. Team A either (1) pulls the player back, (2) works out a trade with B, or (3) let’s the player and contract go to B. If they can’t work out a trade, then it’s up to Team A to decide whether to keep or ditch the player. I don’t think Team B can “withdraw” the claim.

      • Matt Talken 12 months ago

        yeah, if this weren’t the case, you’d never see August trades. If a team like the Cardinals thought the Brewers might be looking to acquire someone, they’d just put in a waiver claim on everyone that went on waivers.

        But the way it really is, the Cardinals have to decide if it’s worth the risk of possibly being stuck with the player. So in the case of a Cole Hamels, even with a lot owed to him, would you want to just claim him for free? That’s almost definitely a yes that you’d be happy to just take him without having to give up prospects.

        But someone with a big contract who’s not producing as much, like a Carl Crawford? You might think twice before claiming that because the original team may be happy just to dump that contract.

    • craigbhill 12 months ago

      Either they’re stuck and have to take and pay him or they relinquish their claim and the player moves on to the team that was intended to get him in trade.
      That’s the big advantage of trading on the waiver wire, teams that know they’re out of it late in Aug seek to jettison salary, which makes the trade much easier for the receiving team because since they’re taking on that high salary, what they also have to give to get is less than before Aug. That’s how LA could get Hamels, for ex, without having to give up their top 3 minor leaguers. In theory, the Phils would accept less back because they’re moving salary too.

  9. mlbaustin 1 year ago

    So if Team A puts a player on waivers and he is claimed by Team B, can that trade involve any player on Team B?

    Example: Phillies place A.J. Burnett on waivers and is claimed by Pirates. Pirates don’t place Ike Davis on waivers. Can this trade happen, or does Ike Davis have to clear waivers as well?

    (I only used these players to ask my question, and am not saying I want or think this would happen).

    • WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 1 year ago

      Both Davis and AJ would have to be placed on waivers in that example.

      Either Team A would have to claim AJ or he would have to clear waiver
      Either Team B would have to claim Davis or he would have to clear waivers for that trade to happen.

      August trade are not meant to be easy.

      • mlbaustin 1 year ago

        Thank you

      • iains 12 months ago

        Adding to this, any player who has already cleared waivers can be traded to any team, yet another reason why every player gets pumped through in August.

    • dwarfstar 12 months ago

      So the answer to your question is yes, any player on team B is available. I.E. Example in 2013 the Rangers claimed Alex Rios and worked out a deal that sent Leury Garcia to the White Sox who had been a up and down optional minor leaguers

  10. westcoastwhitesox 1 year ago

    Can someone write an article like this explaining the Tommy Milone/Sam Fuld trade from yesterday?

  11. Indians223 12 months ago

    Potential players to get dealt in August?

  12. djcahill 12 months ago

    Is there any way to track who is on waivers, and who has passed through waivers or has had a claim put in?

    • $40129616 12 months ago

      Yes. Just to the right of this post you will see the “DFA tracker.” That tool contains the info you’re looking for.

  13. Leon Barry 12 months ago

    So since a player on the 60-day DL isn’t on the 40-man roster, do they have to clear waivers before being traded in August or September? If hypothetically, a perennial All-Star was set to come off the 60-day DL in three days, what is the ruling on that? Not that it has happened or will happen, just wondering?

  14. ConstantinusMagnus 12 months ago

    Assume a player on the Yankees is placed on revocable waivers after August 1 and then claimed by the Royals. The two teams work out a trade in time so the Yankees player is not pulled back with the Yankees agreeing to receive the ever popular “player to be named later”. Is one possible reason they do this is because the Royals doesn’t think they will be able to sneak the particular player sought by the Yankees through waivers to complete the trade in the 48.5 hours after the claim? Do teams come to an unofficial and secret agreement to have the Royals player who would never clear waivers go to the Yankees the day after the season is over (or the World Series is over) to complete the trade? Are their limits on the time a player to be named later must be named? Does the league office know who these “players to be named later” are when the trade is announced. What if that player, say a pitcher, blows out their UCL and needs Tommy John surgury before he is actually “named”? Can anyone explain the rules governing trades involving players to be named later?

  15. Uncontrite 1 year ago

    all ML players must pass through waivers in order to switch teams, I am not sure on prospects, but an easy way to go around that is to make the prospect changing hands a PTBNL in the deal

  16. Ace2095 1 year ago

    The players don’t have to clear waivers, but if they are claimed, only the team who claimed the player can acquire him. I believe the two teams then have 72 hours or so to make a trade or the team who placed the player on waivers can just give the player to the claiming team for free, such as what the Blue Jays did with Rios when the White Sox claimed him.

  17. WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 1 year ago

    All players must be placed on waiver if they are to be dealt between now and the end of the season.

  18. WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 1 year ago

    3 bats and a snickers bar is too much, no team wants Jackson even for free.

  19. Ace2095 1 year ago

    The Pirates would take him for free if the Cubs ate all the salary.

  20. bucsws2014 1 year ago

    The Pirates would only take Jackson at that price if the deal also included Rizzo.

  21. Ace2095 1 year ago

    If the cubs ate his salary and the pirates didn’t have to give up prospects I could see them taking him on as a reclamation project, if they can make Lirano and volquez respectable pitchers they can help anyone

  22. bucsws2014 1 year ago

    They couldn’t fix Jonathan Sanchez. Things Liriano, Volquez, Worley and others have had in common: all were dominant at one point, all had high GB/FB ratios, all had either good to great sinkers/sliders and/or excellent control. Jackson fits none of the above. He’s not a candidate nor, in even his best seasons, is he an upgrade over anyone on the current staff.

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