By David Weiss
While the July 31st trade deadline is behind us, many fans are often shocked to find out that trades can still be made. Here are the questions you wanted to ask about how the August 30th trade deadline works.
Question: What is the difference between the July 31st and the August 30th trade deadlines?
Answer: Waivers. The July deadline is also known as the non-waiver deadline as teams are free to trade players without having to deal with waivers. After July 31st, any player traded must first go through waivers.
Question: What happens when a player in on waivers? Can any team just claim him?
Answer: When a player is on waivers, other teams can submit a claim. It doesn’t mean that they the player can just be snatched. If no team puts a claim on the player, after two days the player can be traded.
Question: What happens if a claim is made on a player while on waivers (before a trade is completed)?
Answer: One of three things can happen:
- The team that has that player can just release him and the team that puts the claim gets him. It is simply a player dump. This can occur if a team just wants to dump the players salary. The team putting in the claim assumes all remaining salary for the season.
- A new trade can be negotiated. The team that owns the player can trade the player to the team that put in the claim. This is a bit weird since it is out of the blue. A team may have had a trade lined up and now they are trading the player to another team.
- Pull the player back from waivers. If the team that owns the player can’t work out a trade and they do not want to release him, they will withdraw the player from waivers.
Question: How many times can a team withdraw a player from waivers?
Answer: Once. This is done in order to avoid an endless cat-and-mouse game. If a player is on waivers a second time and a team puts in a claim, either a trade needs to be worked out or he is lost to that team. His rights get taken by the new team.
Question: What if two or more teams submit a claim?
Answer: The team with the worst record in the same league as the player on waivers gets first dibs. For example, the Mets put a player on waivers and two NL teams put in a claim. The team with the first crack at it is the team with the inferior record. If an NL team with a good record and an AL team with a bad record put in a claim, the NL team has priority. If two teams from the AL put in a claim, this too is handled on a worst to first basis.
Question: Can trades be made after August?
Answer: Yes, but the players involved cannot be used in postseason games. Therefore, it is rare.
Question: If a player traded in September can’t be on the postseason roster, what’s the point?
Answer: Building for the future. The most famous example is when the Phillies got Sparky Lyle in September 1980. He pitched well in his 10 appearances in late September, which helped Philly get to the playoffs. The next season he was their most used reliever.
Question: Can you give some recent examples when the Mets made trades in August?
Answer: Last year Salas, Walker and Granderson were all traded away in August. In 2015, Addison Reed was acquired just before the August deadline.
Question: What are the contract implications?
Answer: If there is a trade, the teams have the right to negotiate the contracts of players involved. This is the same as in all other trades. If a player is claimed off waivers, the team who added the player must take the remaining contract.
Question: Sometimes there are cases in which a player is traded for a “player to be named later”. If the player to be named later is dealt after the August deadline, can he be used in the postseason?
Answer: This is an interesting question. The trade was made in August but completed in September. In this case, the “player to be named later” is ineligible for the postseason. The reason is that he only became a member of the new team after the deadline.
Question: If a player is taken off waivers, can he be sent to the minors?
Answer: No. He must be kept on the major league roster.
(David Weiss is a lifelong Mets fan. He has lived in Israel since 2008 and runs the Facebook page Jewish Mets Fans.)