Phillies Place Lee on Waivers – Would a Team Claim Him?

Cliff gets put on waivers. (AP)

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?

Click to comment


  1. Ken Bland

    August 2, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Of course he’ll be claimed.

    If the Giants trail the Dodgers, rest assured, they will block the Dodgers from even a hair’s chance of getting him.

    If by some miracle he clears NL waivers, it’s a block party by any combo of the Angels, Yanks and Rangers to apply a killer to an acquisition.

    I don’t have the slightest idea if the timing means a damned thing, but ignorant as I am about the timing, I find it a tad curious that the Phils asked waivers on him so early in the process.

    Might be totally meaningless, but did perk a spark of curiousity.

  2. Jeff Dowder

    August 2, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    There are a hundred players on waivers right now. It’s no big deal.

    • Pat Gallen

      August 2, 2012 at 8:10 pm

      I know it’s no big deal. The first sentence says as much. But Cliff Lee piques interest because a blockbuster move could be made.

  3. Lefty

    August 2, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    A question for you-
    If he is claimed and the Phillies work a deal for him, what happens if the claiming team is not on his “allowed to trade to” list?

    In other words, does MLB waivers rules supersede players “no trades” in their contracts? If so, why would a player bother to put the clause in at all?

    • Ken Bland

      August 2, 2012 at 9:07 pm


      Questions been up for a little while, so I’d like to offer something I believe to be true that Pat can correct if he chooses. Not to intrude on a direct question…

      I consider a no trade clause to be the equal of a bonus clause. It protects the player. It can be waived if the player chooses. It’s an example of why guys put no trades to the Yanks, as an example, they know that if the Yanks want them, they can waive it if they want, and possibly get more cash.

      So a no trade complicates the issue. It doesn’t override anything.

      So if a team is on the no trade, they have nothing to lose by initiating a discussion to see if Cliff might have changed his mind since he submitted this year’s list.

      I’m open to correction if wrong.

      • Lefty

        August 2, 2012 at 11:19 pm

        Ken, First feel free to jump in anytime if you feel you have a correct answer, that works for me. I generally pose questions directly to the article poster because, well, it’s their blog.

        I have done considerable work with contracts, but this whole waiver thing puzzles me as it seems that once the trade deadline has passed “no trade clauses” are irrelevant.

        Let’s pose a different scenario- Let’s say team B claims a player from team A to block team C from getting him. And team A decides to let him go for nothing as a salary dump. Team B has to pay 20,000 and then assumes the player’s contract, whether they really want him or not. This actually happened in 2010 with Cody Ross, the Giants (B) Padres(C) and the Marlins(A) At what point was Cody Ross in control of the situation? As far as I can glean, never. He had to report wherever they told him to. so when you mention that a team might get a player to change his mind, I don’t see that that player had any choice.

        A trade doesn’t have to happen, if team A decides not to pull the player off waivers. This all just seems to fly in the face of everything Flood, Messersmith and McNally fought for and the true spirit of free agency.

        Would the Phillies let Lee go for nothing but salary relief? Very, very, doubtful, but then again, they didn’t pay anything in terms of players to get him the second time either. So what if the A’s or Angels claim him to stop the Rangers from doing so, and Ruben just says, meh, I’ll use the money on position needs instead? We know that’s not likely, but the system is set up where it could happen. His no trade clause then has no value at all, and he could end up in Oakland.

      • Ken Bland

        August 3, 2012 at 5:57 am

        I see your point. A seller could really screw a claiming team. And I suppose that’s got nothing to do with an NTC and therefore could sidestep the clause. And it’s probably the reason Salisbury wrote last night it was improbable that any team would claim him.

        I can’t offer any comment on Cody Ross’s trade deadline of 2010. I remember it being a big deal, but chose to ignore the details as they progressed.

        What might be the answer to your speific question, is Dave Cameraon over at FanGraphs posting an article suggesting the Dodgers claim Cliff. It’s perhaps telling that he doesn’t mention the NTC anywhere in the piece.

      • Ken Bland

        August 3, 2012 at 6:07 am

        By the way, scratch that ridiculous seller could screw a claiming team take. It’s totally irrelavant.

        I think I said what I wanted to now. Hope so, anyway.

      • Pat Gallen

        August 3, 2012 at 6:20 am

        Ken did you even read above? I linked to the FanGraphs article!

    • schmenkman

      August 3, 2012 at 5:35 am

      Lefty, I don’t believe the July 31 deadline changes anything with respect to the no trade clause. Lee could still refuse a trade to teams on his list if he wanted to. All the deadline does is make it more difficult to find a trade partner to start with.

      • Chuck A.

        August 3, 2012 at 7:14 am

        All this debate about it seems ridiculous even though it is kind of fascinating. Ruben won’t just let him go for complete salary relief alone. That would be just plain dumb. Lee isn’t going anywhere. He SHOULDN’T go anywhere at this point. This was done purely to gauge interest. It’s called doing your due diligence as a GM.

      • schmenkman

        August 3, 2012 at 8:07 am

        Yep, agreed.

      • Lefty

        August 3, 2012 at 12:49 pm

        I agree too Chuck. I was just curious really.

        Shmenkman, thanks for your input. One of the reasons I asked is that if the bottom teams get first shot, I doubt those teams would be on a player’s list. Although, conceivably the Phillies might be on some of their lists.

  4. Jeff

    August 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    so glad we gave hamels all that money. the hunger is gone. nancy boy

    • Ozzie

      August 2, 2012 at 9:22 pm

      Jeff, are you watching the game? He should have only given up one run. He is pitching a great game.

    • David

      August 2, 2012 at 10:30 pm

      Basically, both runs should have been unearned. Utley should have been able to make the first play even after it bounced away. That probably should have been scored an error because if he made a good throw, the runner would have been out. Then Rollins booted a double play ball. I don’t know how the ball hit to Rollins wasn’t scored an error.


    August 2, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Peresonally, I like Lee a lot. However, I would like to see him claimed and moved to a team like Texas where he can play in the post season and maybe win a world championship. PLUS, I believe the Phils are indeed in deep poop in the future and desperately need solid prospects, salary relief if they are to continue to be competitive, and room to negotiate.
    After the signing of Hamels, Lee’s salary is an albatross. Also, Howard’s salary is just as difficult, except I doubt if anyone will pay that, except the Phils. Maybe Ruben Amaro has gotten smarter after these mistakes?

    • Double Trouble Del

      August 2, 2012 at 10:06 pm

      How much money do you think the Phillies will have to eat to sniff any of a team’s top prospects- 10 millionor so?? They wouldn’t eat any of Blanton’s salary which is why the Os will end up signing D. Lowe and the Phils will be stuck with Joe for the rest of the year.

      • Double Trouble Del

        August 2, 2012 at 10:09 pm

        P.s. Howard has zero value right now. We’re stuck with this one for the duration and I can only believe it will be excruciating to watch.

  6. David

    August 2, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    He has had some very solid outings this year, the 10 shutout innings against the Giants, the 8 inning 1 run games against L.A. and Houston, the 8 inning 2 run game against the Mets and the 7-2/3 inning 2 run game against the Dodgers. I think his E.R.A. would be much better if Charlie could have counted on either Bastardo, Qualls or any of the relievers this year. In the 8th inning this year, he gave up at least 7 runs and that has hurt his ERA a lot. The Blue Jays game he was up 5-2. When he walks the first hitter, Charlie needed to pull him. But because he has no confidence in the bullpen, he left him in and he gave up a home run to the next hitter. Same story in the L.A. Dodgers game that he lost 2-1. And,, then hte Milwaukee game where he gives up 3 runs late.

    Nevertheless, I think the contract is too much and there are some young pitchers in the Phillies system. I think he is a solid pitcher but the Phillies have a lot of needs and may be able to replace him with one of there young pitchers.

  7. Desiree

    August 2, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Keep cliff lee ge good and you know it Philly need him to win sing him back

  8. Gigu

    August 2, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    I love lee we should keep him and pass Howard off anyone would be better then him

  9. SAM

    August 2, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    I don’t think the Phillies should trade Lee. Even though this guy only has two wins …. he got no run support in most of the games he lost. He’s a great pitcher and could help the Phillies make a run next year and possibly a VERYslim chance at the wild card this year. The problem with the Phillies has always been and/or mosly been one great pitcher surrounded by a bunch of garbage. We have 3 great starters and 1 great closer with garbage in between. I say get rid of Blanton who nobody seems to want,Howard who’s a total wash anymore,Utley who’s only a glint of what he used to be, Dom Brown who can’t hit major league pitching and will end up a washout, John Mayberry who can’t hit his way out of a paper bag when it counts, Ty Wigginton, Lance Nix, Michael Martinez. How in the world can you expect to make a run for the pennant or wild card with the first and last 5 guys mentioned? Rueben bulit a mansion with Hamels,Lee, Halladay and Papelbon then put a chicken wire fence around it with wanna be ball players.

  10. Ryne Duren

    August 2, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    i feel sick! watching mini mart playing center, mayberry at the plate and charlie chewing gum and blowing freakin bubbles in the duggout! and pinch hitting for d brown with the broken piece. against a righty! god help us.

  11. Lefty

    August 3, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    The answer to my question yesterday from John Heyman:

    Lee could prevent the Phillies from assigning his contract to any one of the 21 teams on his no-trade list if he is claimed on waivers, Heyman adds.

  12. EricL

    August 3, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Well, the question posed by Pat has been answered: Yes, a team would claim him.

    It’s being reported that Lee did not clear waivers, as someone put in a claim.

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