Right-hander Mike Clevinger has cleared waivers, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPN. He was available to any club willing to take on the remainder of his contract but they have all passed and he will stay with the White Sox.
Clevinger, 32, was one of several veteran players that was placed on waivers this week. With the trade deadline having gone by a month ago, non-contending clubs have little use for impending free agents but no way to exchange them for younger players. By placing them on waivers, they could have at least saved some money if another club put in a claim, as doing so requires taking on the remainder of the contract.
In the case of Clevinger, he could have been a sensible trade candidate at the deadline. The White Sox were well out of contention by that point and ended up trading away players like Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn and others. However, he spent much of the summer on the injured list, first landing there in mid-May due to right wrist inflammation. He was activated in early June but returned to the IL a couple of weeks later due to right biceps inflammation, not being reinstated until July 29.
At the time of that second activation, he had only made 12 starts on the year with a 3.88 ERA but subpar strikeout and walk rates of 19.3% and 9.5% respectively. He didn’t get traded at that time but has improved his season since then. His last six starts have resulted in nine earned runs in 35 innings, which translates to a 2.31 ERA, with his strikeout rate ticking up to 23.7% in that time.
Though he may have increased his appeal relative to a month ago, the interest in a waiver claim was likely muted by his contract. He signed with the White Sox on a one-year, $12MM deal in the offseason, but it was in the form of an $8MM salary and $4MM buyout on a $12MM mutual option for 2024. Though there’s only about $1.38MM left on that salary, any claiming team would also be responsible for that buyout, therefore taking on $5.38MM just to have Clevinger for a month. Prior to the trade deadline, the Sox could have offered to eat some of that cash as part of a deal but didn’t have that option in the waiver process. Though there are plenty of clubs that could have used another starter for the stretch run, it seems none of them were willing to pay that kind of price to do so.
Although Clevinger was placed on waivers, he was not designated for assignment or released, having stayed on the Chicago roster while the waiver process played out. Now that he has cleared, they can outright him to the minors or release him, though he has enough service time to reject an outright assignment while retaining his salary. It seems as though he will simply play out the remainder of the season with the Sox as they play out the string on a disappointing season.