The Texas Rangers are the worst team in baseball and their tragic number (that being their losses combined with wins by playoff-spot-holding teams) is a mere 14. That means by the end of the week, they might be mathematically eliminated. The Rangers were curiously quite at the trade deadline, with talented trade pieces like Adrian Beltre, Yu Darvish, Elvis Andrus, and Shin-soo Choo. As the July 31 trade deadlines passed, no movement. But alas, the deadline is soft, as players can be put on waivers and, if claimed, traded to that team, or if cleared, traded to any team (or pulled back). Turns out most teams will test the “revocable waivers” as they are called just to see what other GMs will do (a little game of chess). Well no GMs did anything for most of the Rangers stars, freeing them up for trade, should the Rangers be so inclined. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Eye on Baseball:
Rangers stars Yu Darvish, Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo and Elvis Andrus all cleared waivers and are eligible to be traded — though there’s no likelihood any of them will be dealt.
Teams didn’t put in claims on at least Darvish and Beltre because there’s no probability of a quick waiver deal with a star of that stature. With Choo and Andrus having off years, perhaps no one wanted to assume their contracts at the moment. Alex Rios was another Rangers players to clear waivers.
The game of “revocable” waivers chess works like this. When a waiving team puts a player on waivers, each team in reverse (current) standings order has the right to claim. If you claim a player and the waiving team does nothing, you get him, and his remaining contract, for yourself. Or the waiving team can negotiate a trade with you. Or the waiving team can pull him back, he becomes ineligible for trade (or another waiver) this season. If a player clears waivers like these Rangers, then they are free to be traded to any team. Because the waiving team has no real risk, most players get put through around this time of year just to see what happens. The claiming teams have to be careful not to just take on a big salary/contract. But other than that, no harm in claiming. Or letting them go through. And no risk at all in waiving.
The lesson here is that there could still be a big name or two move before the September 1 post-season roster deadline. But it will take some significant gumption from both GMs to pull it off.
– David Whitlock