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What’s the point of the waiver trade deadline?

Aug 25, 2011, 11:34 AM EDT

Kevin Kouzmanoff Getty Getty Images

We post on random waiver deals and waiver deal rumors, but our hearts aren’t really in it because it’s all rather silly.  Yes, it matters when a trade is made, but if I had to bet the lives of my children on anything in this world it would be that the “Player X claimed by Team Y on waiver” tweet will be immediately followed by a ” … but a trade is unlikely to happen” tweet.

It’s just the nature of the business when a mostly meaningless, largely automatic process like waivers is suddenly subjected to intense media scrutiny thanks to Twitter and the like.  The information is almost entirely disposable, but since the reports don’t take up column inches or require an editor to pass over them, it’s all good.  No one was writing about waiver claims 20 years ago.

So what’s the point of waivers in the first place?  Bill asks that question over at The Platoon Advantage today. His conclusion, bolstered by some history of the whole deadline process, is that there is no point. At least not anymore.  He thinks we should either make a hard and fast trade deadline for all purposes or else allow trading to happen in any way at any time.

Not bad suggestions.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 25, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    I would rather have it exactly as it is today then make July 31st the only deadline. If you want to say just make August 31st the deadline, then fine, but that’s pretty far along and isn’t it really only a deadline because you need to have a player on your 40 man roster by then to put them on the playoff roster? I mean, trades are still allowed in September, aren’t they? It’s just that you can’t play the guy in the playoffs if you trade after the 31st…or is it that the guy has to report to the new team by the 31st (im trying to recall that issue where Fred Lynn was traded but missed getting to the team by the 31st and so he couldn’t be on the postseason roster)

    • The Common Man - Aug 25, 2011 at 11:48 AM

      That rule (which was dumb) was changed so that the deal only has to be completed by the 31st. And you’re right that trades can still happen in September, but the players acquired can’t go on the postseason roster. Presumably, that’s so that the Yankees or Red Sox can’t go out and get Albert Pujols on September 28 just for the playoffs, and fill their benches with the likes of Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel. It ensures the team that plays in the postseason mostly looks like the team that got to the postseason.

      But just because you like something the way it is doesn’t mean it’s inherently a good thing. The central question I think Bill is asking is why does this second deadline, and the waiver process, even exist given that there doesn’t seem to be a good reason for it. I mean, can you think of one?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 25, 2011 at 11:54 AM

        I guess it creates more strategy within the baseball player movement system. I would think that the players would hate to see the period between July 31st and August 31 go away because there are guys who want to play for a contender who enjoy switching teams during the waiver period.

        Again, if you want to say that non-waiver trades can occur until August 31st, then I guess I am on board with that. But if you want to just make July 31st the hard and fast date for guys to be able to go onto playoff rosters, then I would say nah because that is too soon in the season.

        Also, without this, we would not have had the laugh we had when the Yankees claimed Jose Canseco and then were stuck with him…OK, maybe that was just us Yankees haters 😀

      • The Common Man - Aug 25, 2011 at 11:59 AM

        So, strategy for the sake of strategy? I’m all for using complex strategy when it will help you win, but just buying a bigger gun to knock down the castle walls is a strategy as well, and eliminating the waiver restrictions eases the difficulty in doing that.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 25, 2011 at 12:03 PM

        OK, as I said…if you want to make August 31st the date for the non-waiver trades, then I am on board. Sound good to you?

  2. The Baseball Gods - Aug 25, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    I feel like, for the most part, revocable waivers are there to gauge interest of a player that is making a lot of money.

    • The Common Man - Aug 25, 2011 at 12:00 PM

      Which is not what they were intended to do.

  3. SOBEIT - Aug 25, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    I would guess most waiver wire trades never happen….just a guess since we don’t hear about the majority of players put through waivers who don’t get claimed. But the Giants claimed Cody Ross, got him for nothing, salary relief for the Marlins…and he went on to be a huge factor in the Giants winning the World Series.

    Are there many examples like this? Don’t know. Don’t care. But there is some value. If we got rid of everything that seemed unnecessary, why do the 4 pitch walk…why not just tell the ump, it’s intentional, give the batter first. Or do we keep it for the sake of the once in a million chance the pitcher will get the yips and overthrow the catcher and the runners on base get a free 90 feet?

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