In what is a routine practice throughout baseball following the trade deadline, players are placed on waivers and can be claimed by another team. Here is how it works, from Twinkietown Blog:
- Nearly all players are put on waivers in August.
- Not all players on waivers are placed there with the intention of being moved.
- Teams with worse records have priority over teams with better records, American League teams have priority over American League players and National League teams have priority over National League players.
- Teams will often make a claim on a player to block a rival club from being awarded the claim, but this is dangerous because the claiming team could just get stuck with a player they didn’t want…and his salary. It’s the reason Manny Ramirez cleared waivers a few years ago: nobody wanted to get stuck with his contract.
- If a player clears waivers they may be traded to any team, for a player who has also cleared waivers or for non 40-man roster players.
- If a player is claimed he can only be dealt to the team awarded the claim.
- A player can be pulled off waivers once, but if put on a second time the waivers are irrevocable.
- Finally: injured players cannot be passed through waivers.
To read deeper into it, the blog does a nice job of breaking it down.
So, that leads us to Cliff Lee being place on waivers. It’s possible that a team looking to add an ace to their staff for the playoff run can claim him, pushing the Phillies to make a decision. Let him walk, trade him, or pull him back and keep him.
Dave Cameron of FanGraphs makes a great argument that the Los Angeles Dodgers should claim him and play chicken with the Phillies to see if they’ll blink. The Dodgers seemingly can afford his contract, so they could take on the risk of the Phillies letting him walk and getting rid of all of his salary. But being owed over $90 million makes it entirely likely Lee passes through.
It’s a complete hypothetical, but it’s an interesting one. And while it’s unlikely, it’s certainly possible.
If Lee is claimed, what should the Phillies do?