An August Trade Rules Primer: A Byzantine Road


Aug 19, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Nationals pinch hitter David DeJesus (4) flies out during the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports


a. Of, relating to, or characterized by intrigue; scheming or devious: “a fine hand for Byzantine deals and cozy arrangements” (New York).

b. Highly complicated; intricate and involved: a bill to simplify the byzantine tax structure.

There’s only a few days left in August but, as always, curious and special rules apply in baseball. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect even though there are just hours remaining.

  • Teams have to pass players through revocable waivers to trade them after the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. Those revocable waivers last 47 hours.
  • Players who go unclaimed after those 47 hours are eligible to be traded to any team for the rest of the season.
  • A team has three options if one of its players is claimed off revocable waivers. That team can either pull the player back without penalty, work out a trade with the claiming team, or simply hand the player and his salary over for nothing. Recent examples of this include the White Sox’s acquisition of Alex Rios and the Giants’ acquisition of Cody Ross.
  • Teams will often put most of their players on waivers to determine interest. There’s no risk in doing so, as they don’t have to actually give up a player that is claimed by another team.
  • Regardless of the day of the week (Saturday and Sunday are treated as normal days), clubs have two days (48.5 hours) to deal claimed players. They can only negotiate a trade with the team that was awarded the claim on that player.
  • If only one team claims a player, he can only be dealt to that team.
  • If more than one team claims a player, he can only be traded to the claiming team in the same league with the worst record.
  • If a player is only claimed by teams in the other league, he can only be dealt to the claiming team with the worst record.
  • If a team places a player on waivers a second time after pulling him back, the waivers are no longer revocable. A claiming team would be awarded the player at that point. Obviously, the risk in placing a player on waivers a second time is significant.
  • Teams cannot pass players on the disabled list through waivers. If a player is placed on waivers and then placed on the disabled list the next day, his team must cancel the waiver request.
  • Players acquired after August 31st can’t play in the postseason.

The addition of a second wild card spot will make this August and future Augusts potentially more active since teams are less willing to engage in a July trade.

Proof of this are significant 2012 trades. One of the largest trades of the past decade occurred on August 25 when the Red Sox traded Adrian GonzalezCarl CrawfordJosh Beckett and Nick Punto to the Dodgers forJames LoneyAllen WebsterRubby De La RosaJerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus.

This post is based on an MLBTR post that was originally published by Ben Nicholson-Smith on June 25, 2009. Thanks to Cot’s Baseball Contracts and this article by’s Jayson Stark.

Seven August trades have happened thus far:

  • The Texas Rangers acquired outfielder Alex Rios from the Chicago White Sox for prospect Leury Garcia.
  • The Kansas City Royals picked up utility infielder Jamey Carroll from the Minnesota Twins and utility man Emilio Bonifacio from the Toronto Blue Jays, both for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays acquired lefty Wesley Wright from the Houston Astros for cash considerations.
  • The Washington Nationals acquired outfielder David DeJesus from the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later.
  • The Oakland A’s acquired catcher Kurt Suzuki and cash from the Nationals for minor league pitcher Dakota Bacus.
  • The Rays acquired outfielder David DeJesus from the Nationals for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

Phew! I don’t know about you but I need a drink. Go Sox!