What is the MLB Waiver Trade Deadline?
The trade deadline in the MLB has come and gone with a whirlwind of excitement. Contenders have reloaded and the bottom dwellers have been rewarded with young prospects to lead their teams into the future. Just because the trade deadline has passed, it does not mean teams still cannot make a trade. Making a trade just became a lot more difficult for a team. This is because of the MLB Waiver Trade Deadline.
Teams can still make trades, however, the player involved in the trade must pass through the waivers process before being potentially offered up to specific teams. Teams tend to use this time to gauge interest on players who are either a burden on the salary cap, or players that do not fit into the long term plans of the team. The best way to explain the process is to use an example, so I will be using Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers as the example for this piece.
The Dodgers would theoretically start by placing Puig on waivers. Each team gets an opportunity to claim Puig off waivers. If more than one team claims Puig, then the team with the worst record in that team’s league gets to talk with the Dodgers. In this example, that means whichever team in the National League that has the worst record and put in the claim would receive him. If no National League teams claim him, then the American League teams get the opportunity, starting with the team with the worst record.
So a team claims Puig, what happens next? The Dodgers have three different options they can move forward with. First, the Dodgers may pull him back off waivers and keep him. The downside of pulling Puig back would be that if he was to be put on waivers again later in the season, which is called irrevocable waivers, the Dodgers would not be able to pull Puig back again.
Second option, the Dodgers may trade him to the team that submitted the claim. Puig would be a good candidate for this because he has all the potential in the world, but nagging injuries have hindered Puig’s production and the Dodgers are fed up with his attitude problems. The Dodgers could clear about $25 million in salary and be rid of Puig’s antics.
The final option for the Dodgers would be to just let Puig walk for the reasons cited in the previous paragraph. Puig would become a free agent and the team that claimed him would pick him up, paying the Dodgers $20,000 for the waiver fee. The new team would pay Puig the veteran minimum salary while the Dodgers would have to pay the remainder of Puig’s contract to him. In essence, Puig would be receiving two paychecks.
If Puig were to clear waivers without a claim being made, then the Dodgers would be able to negotiate with any team, just like before the August 1st deadline. No trade clauses would still be in effect and money or compensation draft picks could be moved for the player. The only notable drawback is that if the player is traded after August 31st, then the player is not eligible for the postseason with his new team.
My honest assessment for Puig is that if he were to be placed on waivers, then a team would claim him on his potential alone. Puig has not been the same player he was his dynamite rookie year, but a rebuilding team could use the opportunity to sign him as a low risk-high reward kind of opportunity. If Puig does not impress over the last couple of months of the season, then the rebuilding team does not have to resign him. Only time will tell though if the Dodgers will say enough is enough and put him through the waiver process instead of leaving Puig in Triple A where he may never rebound.