How waivers work
Getting a waiver
A team must receive a waiver in order to do some things with a player’s contract. Like:
– assign it to a minor league team, if a player meets some conditions
– trade it to another major league team, under some conditions
– give a player his unconditional release (we saw this with Sexson and Vidro, for instance). We’re not going to discuss this one as we walk through this.
To get a waiver, a team notifies MLB. Waivers are batched up by the day they’re received (days run from 2pm-2pm eastern time). A team can only request waivers on seven players in any day.
Making waiver claims
Then other teams can enter waiver claims. They essentially have two business days to make the claim.
So if tomorrow I request a waiver for Carlos Silva and get that in before 2pm Eastern, other teams have until 1pm Eastern on Tuesday to notify the league they’d like to make a waiver claim.
If no one claims the player, the team requesting waivers gets them and can do whatever it was they wanted to do in the first place. They get a nice waiver notice which presumably is emailed to them.
Who gets a claim
One team claims, they get the waiver claim
More than one team claims, the precedence order goes worst record in the same league to best record in same league and then the other league. This is a dumb rule. The way the precedence is determined is also complicated, and not “record at time of claim”.
Then MLB sends a nice note to the requesting team that tells them what claims were made. The rule is “any claims”.
The requesting team now has a couple of options:
Let the claiming team take the contract
If no action is taken, the player’s assigned to the claiming team. The team losing the player gets a token amount of cash.
This seems to be frequently overlooked. If someone puts on a claim on Carlos Silva in the previous example, and when I call them up they tell me they want an extra player, or they’re just blocking a trade, or they made a mistake and meant to claim another player, well, it really sucks to be them, because in a month I’m going to sympathize with them about how hard it is to get sour cream out of the clubhouse carpeting.
Make a deal
Work out a means of compensation, either in prospects who don’t have to go through waivers, cash, or gift certificates to the Body Shop. There’s a time limit on this.
Withdraw the waiver request
This is the only leverage the requesting team has: threatening to keep the guy.
If the team requesting a waiver on a player can’t work out a deal with the claiming team, they can withdraw their request. The player stays on their team, and if they were requesting waivers for purpose of a transaction, they’re stuck unable to make that move.
If they do that, they can still try this trick again, but with an added twist:
Requesting waivers again
If a player’s pulled back, a team can request a waiver on the same player again (this is kind of confusing in the rules, by the way, which says “no you can’t request waivers twice” and then “requesting waivers twice in the same period…”)
In this case, the waivers are irrevocable: the requesting team can’t pull the player back. So if you request again post-August 1st, the second time whoever wins the claim war automatically gets them. They don’t have to make a deal or anything.
That doesn’t mean that if the player clears, they have to release him.