The Yankees have been aggressive in making waiver claims, rival executives tell ESPN’s Buster Olney (subscription required). New York has traditionally made many claims during the August waiver period, sometimes in pursuit of late-season upgrades themselves or simply to block players from reaching other rivals.
This year, the club is in a somewhat different position, as a series of mid-season trades proved that the focus isn’t on 2016. Still, the Yanks have rather remarkably maintained a 15-10 record since the calendar flipped to August, and sit only 3.5 games out of Wild Card position and 6.5 back in the AL East.
Interestingly, Olney suggests that New York’s position just behind Baltimore — but ahead of its division-rival in waiver priority — has created problems for the O’s as they seek to make last-minute additions. The Yankees, it seems, have been able to open possibilities for their own new acquisitions while also cutting off the supply lines of their competitors.
All said, then, the Yanks could be juggling any of three primary sources of motivation in making any single claim: adding players for the final month of 2016, preventing A.L. rivals from doing the same, and/or picking up assets for 2017 and beyond. While there’s not much time remaining for the aggressive waiver wire strategy to work, it seems that New York has at least largely succeeded in maintaining the status quo — leaving the club in position to make a surprising late run at a Wild Card, if not the division itself.