How MLB trade waivers work


So, the ‘non-waiver trade deadline’ passed on July 31st and a bunch of would be trades are thrown out the door, now people are wondering ‘What does that ‘non-waiver’ part mean?’

Well, the short answer is that before the July 31st deadline anyone can be traded to any team, period. After the 31st trades can indeed still happen, but you’ve got to deal with issue of trade waivers. But what is a ‘Waiver?’

A waiver is a way for a team to ask every other team “Hey, you want this guy?” If you want to trade him you have to give every other team a chance to take him along with his contract, for nothing. This is what August’s trade assignment waivers are all about.

So let us say a player is placed on waivers. It is possible for every team in baseball to say “Hey, I want that guy!” But only one team’s claim can actually go through and keep the player. During the August period, priority is given to teams that are in the player’s league. So if it is a NL, NL teams will get priority. Now of the NL teams that want the player, the team with the worst record has the first opportunity at scooping up the guy. If no one in the NL wants him, then priority goes to the lowest standing teams in the AL.

So, let’s say a team waives a player and a different team claims the player off waivers (let’s assume they are the highest priority team) the player’s current ball club has several options to choose from:

  1. It can allow the claiming team to get the player and take on his contract, who then places him on its 25-man roster
  2. They can trade the player to the claiming team within 2 business day
  3. They can cancel the waiver and keep the player on their ball club

If the player is not claimed by any team in a 47 hour period, the player is said to have ‘cleared waivers.’ This means that player can be traded to any team, released, or assigned to a minor league club.

So, there is one more very important thing. Who has been placed on waivers?? Well, no idea. Probably just about everyone. You will not find out who was on waivers unless the information leaks or a player is traded or assumed by another team.  Every year it leaks that someone is on waivers, but there is no risk to place stars on waivers to see what they can get for them… it may not be because the team wants to get rid of the guy they just want to shop around to see what they can get.

This is how MLB waivers work. Next question.

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