Which of Six Sox will be Walking the Waiver Wire, MLB’s “garage sale”?



The waiver wire is MLB’s garage sale; players that you would like to keep, if you only had room for them, are put out on the lawn.

The Red Sox have six players on their protected 40-man roster, who are “out of options.” These guys have less than five years service time and are also out of minor league options. This means that the Sox must either: 1. keep the player and use a valuable roster slot, 2. release him outright, or 3. try to sneak him through the waiver wire process, so he can be reassigned to one of their minor league affiliates.

"The six players at the Decision Diamond are: Michael Bowden, Felix Doubront, Andrew Miller, Darnell McDonald, Franklin Morales, and Matt Albers."

The only non-pitcher is McDonald, who was projected to be Sweeney’s partner in the RF Three-legged Race, but with the addition of Cody Ross, Darnell may be headed for the wire.

Veteran right-handed reliever Scott Atchison, was designated for assignment Jan. 26, has cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple A, which means no MLB team wanted him and he no longer occupies a valuable 40-man roster slot.

The other pitchers Michael Bowden, Felix Doubront, Andrew Miller, Franklin Morales and Matt Albers are currently occupying slots on the 40-man “protected” roster and are listed on the bull pen depth chart.

The Sox will need to make a decision about how many relievers they will carry on the 40-man, taking the RHP-LHP balance into account. Before risking losing a player on the waiver wire, teams will try to trade him.
[Current list of players out of options, here: http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/02/out-of-options-2012.html]

Teams also calculate how desirable a player might be. For example, the Sox cleared a 40-man slot recently by running Atchison through the waiver wire gauntlet and, as they expected no team wanted to claim him. Michael Bowden is a highly regarded prospect and has been mentioned by other teams in trade talks, so the Sox would assume that he would be claimed.

Cherington and Valentine [and maybe Pitching coach, Bob McClure] will meet to evaluate the relative value of a pitcher to the Sox and other MLB teams to decide, if it is worth using up a 40-man slot to protect him, or tossing him onto the waiver wire conveyer belt and hope he is not snatched off.

The numbers game becomes interesting with prospects taking up slots, like Lars Anderson, 24, a lefty-hitting 1b, currently listed on the 40-man and depth chart behind A-Gonz. If the Sox feel that Ortiz or Yook could play the occasional game at First base, and see just-signed Mauro Gomez (27) RHB as more 1b depth, they might be tempted to try Lars on the wire to get him to AAA Pawtucket.

His fate is linked to not just position depth, but also bullpen depth; if the Sox want a deep pen, they may need to sacrifice a position player like Anderson, or McDonald.

Then there is the other side of the wire, where the Sox may find a gem and claim him, which would require clearing a space for that new player. Some pitchers that other teams might try to sneak past waivers include: Blake Hawksworth, Scott Elbert [Dodgers], Jason Vargas [Mariners], Roger Bernadina, Tyler Clippard, Ross Detwiler, Tom Gorzelanny [Nats], , Jeff Niemann [Rays], Homer Bailey, Bill Bray [Reds], Matt Maloney, Glen Perkins, Anthony Swarzak [Twins], Luke Hochevar [Royals], and Collin Balester [Tigers].

The Rays are over-loaded with starters and have been unable to trade Niemann; they would also hope that Niemann’s reputation, “bad back,” would leave him unclaimed on waivers.

The Twins may hope that some team will claim Glen Perkins, who has been critical of management, and then be able to get something in return for him, while clearing a 40-man slot and dumping his salary.

"Ben Cherington may like the potential of Luke Hochevar as a starter or future closer and consider putting in a waiver claim, but he would first need to find a player on his current 40-man roster that he needs less than Hochevar and the budget space to cover his salary."

As Jayson Stark of ESPN points out, if you over-reach, you can get your arm caught in the conveyer belt:

“… if a team is just hoping to dump a player’s salary, it can simply allow a team which claimed that player to have him for a small waiver fee. If that happens, the team that gets the player has to pay his entire salary. That’s how the Yankees were stuck with Jose Canseco and the Padres were stuck with Randy Myers in recent years: They claimed those players, thinking they were just blocking other teams from getting them. Instead, their old clubs said: “You claimed him. You got him.

In the past, many teams claimed players just to keep them from being traded to contenders with a better record. This year, that isn’t expected to happen as often, because most teams can’t afford to get stuck with a big contract if they’re awarded a player they really didn’t want.” [http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=stark_jayson&id=1860265]

And, sometimes, sneaking a player through waivers is like

"“throwing a pork chop past a hungry wolf.”"

For example, recall the classic story of a waiver wire robbery;  how the Pirates stole Roberto Clemente from the Dodgers, once again the crafty Mahatma, Branch Rickey was involved.

“Bavasi [thought he] could get the Pirates to draft a different player off the Montreal Royals’ roster, [so] Clemente would remain with the Dodgers organization.  (Each team could lose only one player, so if a different Montreal player were taken, then no other team could draft Clemente or any other Royals player.)

Bavasi said he went to Branch Rickey, Sr., who had run the Brooklyn Dodgers before going to Pittsburgh.  Bavasi had declined Rickey’s offer at that time to follow him to the Pirates, but, according to Bavasi, Rickey then told him that, “Should I [Bavasi] need help at anytime, all I had to do was pick up the phone.”

Bavasi said he used this offer of help in 1954 to get Rickey to agree draft a different player, pitcher John Rutherford, off the Royals roster. However, Bavasi was dismayed to learn two days later that the deal was off and that the Pirates were going to draft Clemente.  “It seemed that Walter O’Malley and Mr. Rickey got in another argument, and it seems Walter called Mr. Rickey every name in the book,” Bavasi explained.  “Thus, we lost Roberto.”32  [http://milkeespress.com/clemente1954.html]

Lest we leave create a false impression,know that players off the waiver wire are always “free,” we note that there are a set of complicated rules that deal with compensation and contracts. For example, if a team, or teams, puts waiver claim on your player, you have the option to pull him back. And, the player isn’t “free,” since the claiming team must honor the player’s current contract and salary. [See rules summary written By Jayson Stark ESPN.com following this article.]

So, when Ben goes out “garage sale-ing,” he needs to think if he has room for anything he buys; what can he throw out to make room for his new “find.” And, he needs to check with the One-Percenters upstairs at Fenway to see if he has the money to pay for his purchase.



[NOTE: 40-man roster players who have less than five years’ service time and are out of minor league options must clear waivers before being sent to the minors.]

· if a player isn’t claimed by any team in either league, he can be traded until the end of the month to anyone.

  • · If a player is claimed, but only by one team, the player can be traded only to the team that claims him.
  • · If a player is claimed by more than one team, the club with the worst record in that player’s league gets priority — and the player can be traded only to that team.
  • · If a player is claimed only by teams in the other league, the club with the worst record in the other league gets priority — and the player can be traded just to that team.
  • · If a deal can’t be worked out or the team doesn’t want to trade that player, he can be pulled back off waivers once in August. If he is placed on waivers again before September, he can’t be recalled a second time.
  • · Or, if a team is just hoping to dump a player’s salary, it can simply allow a team which claimed that player to have him for a small waiver fee. If that happens, the team that gets the player has to pay his entire salary.


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