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What's the point of waivers anyway?

Aug 18, 2010, 2:35 PM EDT

Buster Olney asked a general manager why we have the complicated waiver-trade system between July 31st and August 31st. I had kind of been wondering that myself recently, so I was happy to see the question asked!  Then I read the answer . . .

He paused before answering. “You know, I never thought about it like
that,” he said. “I guess we have it because that’s the way we’ve always
done it. But I can’t give you a good reason. You know, that’s a really good question. Probably just because that’s the way we’ve always done things.”

I’m going to go research why we have the waiver system now. But if a current GM doesn’t know why, I’m not sure I’ll be satisfied with any answers I come up with.

  1. Stichey - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    I thought that it was a system to slow player movement between competitors so that one team cannot inordinately influence the playoffs. Such a system seems all the more important given that as teams get knocked out of the race, they can’t make dump deals that affect August, September and October without exposing that talent to other teams that have a vested interest in the stretch run to the playoffs.
    I haven’t done any official research, but enforcing a semblance of fairness and parity as the playoffs approach always seemed like the goal to me.

  2. David - Aug 18, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    Helps to keep 1st place teams from unfairly getting even 1st-placer. Gives lower ranked teams first crack at available talent.
    I would not be happy if that quote was from my team’s GM. I am always amazed when I hear ignorant comments like this fro the people who should really know the most.

  3. Megary - Aug 18, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    Things I’d love to see, Baseball Edition (other editions NSFW): The Red Sox claim Manny off waivers to keep him from the Rays/Yanks.

  4. Joe Tetreault - Aug 18, 2010 at 5:42 PM

    The candid response reminds me of the fantastic stats panel at FanGraphs Live a week and a half ago. The consensus opinion on the illegitimacy of “we do it this way because it’s the way we’ve always done it” seems ideally suited for swatting this one to shreds. I think competition would be the most reasonable justification. Do let us all know what you find.

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