Burnett and Posada explain trade waivers


There’s a chance that you woke up this morning and saw this headline in the Post: “Yankees Burnett, Posada on trade waivers.” For the uninitiated, this might have induced a spit take. We normally associate waivers with releasing a player. Are the Yankees really going to cut bait on two underperforming veterans?

Absolutely not. In August teams place many of, if not most of, the players on their 40-man roster on waivers. It’s part of the process that allows them enact trades for the rest of the month. It does call for a quick explanation, as a primer for those who haven’t heard of trade waivers, and as a reminder for everyone else.

On Sunday at 4 p.m. the period where major league teams could freely exchange players expired. This is typically referred to as the trade deadline, but it’s really the non-waivers trade deadline. Teams can still swap players in August, but they need to pass through an additional obstacle. That is, a GM can trade any player in August as long as he clears waivers, which necessarily means placing him on waivers. And so we’ll see stories in the coming weeks about X and Y players being placed on waivers. Make little of these.

Let’s use Burnett as an example. Let’s say that Cubs GM Jim Hendry truly has lost his mind, and he puts in a claim on Burnett. The Yankees then have three options. They can work out a trade with the Cubs, they can simply dump the remainder of Burnett’s contract on the Cubs, or they can pull him back. Tempting as it might be to foist Burnett’s contract on some unsuspecting GM, I imagine the Yankees would revoke the waivers on Burnett and keep him on the team. They can place him on waivers again, in an attempt to pass him through, but you can only pull back a player once. If he gets claimed a second time, he’s property of the claiming team.

The entire point of trade waivers is to see who passes through unclaimed. Once a player clears, his team can trade him anywhere else. Chances are the better players in the league, especially ones with reasonable contracts, get claimed and therefore are blocked from any deals. For instance, if the Yankees put Brett Gardner on waivers he’d certainly get claimed. The Yankees would then pull him back, and that would be the end of any trade possibilities involving him. Chances are, the Yankees won’t even both placing Gardner on waivers. But you can be damn sure they’ll use the waiver process for all of their high-priced veterans. In fact, according to the Post, they’ve also placed Rafael Soriano, in addition to Posada and Burnett, on waivers.

Teams can also swap players not on the 40-man roster, which certainly creates opportunities. So while the Yankees cannot trade Dellin Betances, since he’s on the 40-man roster and hasn’t a prayer of clearing waivers, they could conceivably trade Adam Warren or Jesus Montero this month if it meant upgrading the major league roster. Of course, they’d have to find a player on a major league roster who has already cleared.

Any team can place a waiver claim, but when awarding the claim it goes to the team with the lowest win percentage in the same league. That is, if the Red Sox and the Astros put in a claim on Burnett, the Red Sox are awarded the claim, because they’re in the American League. But if the Astros and the Phillies put in a claim, the Astros are awarded, because they have the lower win percentage. (Same goes for, say, the A’s and the Red Sox.) This process leads to many trailing teams placing claims in order to block contenders from swinging a deal. This can be used both to block significant pieces and to block trade chips. For example, in 2009 the Yankees placed a claim on the Red Sox Chris Carter, because that muddled the deal that sent Billy Wagner to Boston.

The report of Burnett, Posada, and Soriano being placed on waivers is probably not the last of its type you’ll see this month. In itself, it is meaningless. It does become a bit more reasonable if they clear, but even then there is little to no chance that the Yankees would deal any of these players. In fact, there’s almost no chance they trade anyone on their major league roster, so we can effectively ignore trade waivers from them. What’s meaningful is seeing what players on non-contenders clear waivers. Those are the ones that could possibly help down the stretch run.

Categories : Trade Deadline


  1. Plank says:

    I think some teams put their entire roster on waivers once to see who gets through.

  2. Charlee says:

    How does Burnett’s no trade clause factor in this ?

    • Mike Axisa says:

      No trade clauses are usually no “assignment” clauses. A trade is an “assignment,” a waiver claim is an “assignment,” a demotion to the minors is an “assignment.” I believe he’d be able to refuse any waiver claim if the Yankees just wanted to let him go.

  3. Jobu The Voodoo Troll says:

    Burnett on waivers? Come on Kenny Williams, don’t fail me now.

    • jsbrendog says:

      this is just completely flawed thinking. who pithces his innings for the rest of this year?

      • Jericho Spade says:

        Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes, even though it would be detrimental this year, for the next two years it would clear $17M a season. For CJ Wilson, or someone else. I like Burnett a lot, but he has definitely not pitched to his contract and it would be smart to let him go under those circumstances.

      • MannyGeee says:

        small price to pay considering the cost/reward for the next few years.

      • I think I’d actually let Burnett walk if some team claimed him; rest of 2011 be damned.

        We’ve got CC-Colon-Garcia-Nova-Hughes-Warren-Noesi-Mitchell-Phelps; we can make it to the playoffs with that corps and then find a workable 4-man postseason rotation. Getting Burnett’s money off the books for 2012 and 2013 (and freeing it up for Wilson or some other import) would be worth the slight risk in 2011.

        Of course, Burnett would never waive his NTC to accept a waiver claim to go to the White Sox (or any other team, for that matter), so this is all moot.

  4. Foghorn Leghorn says:

    Burnett + Posada…that’s like a battery you buy at the dollar store.

  5. Hester Prynne says:

    If this means Jesus Montero is called up then I’m all for it. Trade Posada to the White Sox and AJ Burnett to the Marlins.

    • Plank says:

      I like how this comment comes after an explanation that this move does not mean these players are going to be traded.

      Why would you trade Burnett now? He’s helpful to the team this year. He has 2 more years after this year. His contract isn’t that “bad”*.

      *From the perspective of team owners.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Burnett makes 30% the Marlins current payroll… the notoriously cheap Marlins will increase their payroll 30% for AJ?

      The White Sox aren’t set with Dunn, Konerko, and Pierzynski?

      Do you think about what you’re going to type before you type it?

  6. Drew says:

    Please someone claim Soriano, please set someone claim Soriano, please let someone claim Soriano…

  7. Cuso says:

    Sleeve pet comeone slave Coriano

  8. Damix says:

    Has it been decided yet if claiming just to claim is “smart” or “being a dick” yet?

    I’m guessing the answer depends on if it was Epstein or Cash making the move.

    Or if you’ve spoken to a Met fan recently, if it was Minaya or Alderson making the move. (yes I’m getting annoyed at all the Alderson love already)

    • Sayid J. says:

      The complaining about other people complaining has got to be the ONLY thing about RAB I dislike. This site, for the most part, has been able to provide a forum separate from all of the idiots teeming with bias. Coming here to complain about it only removes this place from the short list of safe-havens for free, straight-forward Yankee conversation.

  9. Kevin says:

    Are there any recent examples of blockbuster trades happening through waivers? Trades through waivers seem to provide incremental improvements more often.

  10. CountryClub says:

    Are players that are traded in August eligible for the playoffs? I always forget this rule.

    • Yep. Playoff-eligible players just have to be in the org by August 31st. You’re supposed to have your playoff roster set by then, but there are usually ways you can get other guys in the org on the roster.

      • CountryClub says:


      • Sweet Dick Willie says:

        Playoff-eligible players just have to be in the org by August 31st.

        Don’t they actually have to be on the 25 man by 8/31, not just in the org, to be eligible for the play offs? I mean barring an injury.

        • CP says:

          The roster on 9/1 (or 8/31, not sure the exact timing) is the playoff roster, but one player can be replaced for every player on the 60 day DL, plus any other player that is on the DL for the playoffs can be replaced. The replacements must come from the 40 man roster (with some limited exceptions).

          With all of the Yankee’s injuries, as long as a player is on the 40 man roster, they’re fair game for the playoffs.

        • They need to be on the 25-man roster by midnight 8/31, yes, but each player still on the 60-day DL at the end of the season who has already exhausted his full 60 days but is not healthy enough to return yet (i.e., Joba, Feliciano, Corona, Curtis, and possibly Mitre) gives the team an eligibility exemption. Each of those players can be replaced with someone who was anywhere in the organization, majors or minors, 40-man or not, as of midnight August 31st.

          Playoff roster eligibility is:
          A.) the 25 guys on your active roster as of 8/31
          B.) everybody on the 15-day, 60-day, or bereavement list on 8/31
          C.) anybody else in the org at any level on 8/31 as a one-to-one, position-for-position swap for a player still on the 60-day at season’s end

  11. infernoscurse says:

    i wish there were a way to put yankee fans on waivers

  12. bakekrukow412 says:

    No one would claim them.

  13. Dan says:

    If the Yankees pass the Red Sox, what are the chances the Sox pick-up a Wandy Rodriguez or Kuroda type starter that the Yankees may have had a chance to block?

  14. Bill says:

    Is there a place where you can see which team places what players on waivers, claims made, and players that pass through?

  15. Hardwired says:

    Adam Dunn looks like Ty Cobb compared to Craig Counsell — he’s 0 for his last 45. Yikes!

  16. pat says:

    I was hoping this would be an instructional video hosted by AJ and Jorge to explain the ins and outs of Trade Waivers.

  17. yankee_lover says:

    is it me or does espn love the red sox

  18. JPHX says:

    Question: If the Yankees claim Wandy, does his option remain a player option or does the fact that it was a waiver claim change that?

  19. Cuso says:

    A fish called Wandy

  20. Bob Michaels says:

    Let some team Claim Soriano.

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