Friday, August 4, 2006

Baseball's Overhyped Trade Deadline


People say the Super Bowl is overhyped.  That may be.  Some say March Madness is overhyped.  M'kay.  Some say the Olympics are overhyped.  Ya gotta point.

But the MLB trade deadline, to me, is the worst thing ever.  Right when the All Star break happens up until the end of the talking heads go into wild rumor mode.  Sure, the NBA and NHL do the same thing...and sometimes there is a trade in the NFL....but none of it is overdramatized than baseball.

It can also be unfair.

First off....I was bent about ESPN's total jock sniffing of Alphonso Soriano.  For two weeks straight, all anyone wanted to talk about was where Soriano may go and what he'd mean to the "hot rumored team of the moment".  Would he play in the outfield still.....or would he move back to second??  What if he returned to the Yankees??  Blah.  And the funniest thing happened.

Nothing.  He stayed put.

So then those same heads spent about 4 days analyzing why he didn't go anywhere and what the thought process is behind it all.  C'mon....stop beating a dead horse!!  I know it made a lot of sense for the Nationals to deal the Phonze away for something....anything....but it didn't happen.  And it is sports talk radio that is supposed to be the forum for airing such grievances.   Not the entire half-hour of baseball tonight. 

But the real reason the trade deadline is crap is really isn't a deadline at all.  Nope.  Even once the bell struck on can still make trades, provided the players go thru waivers first. 

For a quick rundown of how it works....this is from MLB Trade Rumors: Waiver Trade Rules: 

Any player can be put on waivers by his team, and the player does not need to be informed.  Other teams have the chance to make a claim on the player during a 47 hour window.  If the player is claimed, the team that placed him on waivers has the option of pulling him back.  If the team pulls him back they can't trade him for 30 days.

If his team decides not to pull him back:

Option 1:  His team can work out a trade with the team that claimed him.  Any player involved in the trade who is on a 40 man roster must go through waivers first.
Option 2:  His team can just dump him and his salary on the team that claimed him, getting no player in return.
Option 3:  No one claims him, and his team is free to trade him to any team.

If more than one team places a claim on a player, the winning claim is awarded based on worst record or the league the claiming team is in.   


Understand??  In means teams that are out of it can throw their expensive players on the waiver wire and see if anything bites.  If a team does bite...they can work out a deal or pull him off the wire and are forbidden to trade him for a month.  It means that you can rid yourself of expensive players and get a little bit of change for it.

So Soriano still could be dealt.

Of course, that waiver wire trade concept works best for those teams with a ton of money.  Those teams who see....say....I dunno.....Javy Lopez and his $8M salary and say, "screw it, we can afford to bite the bullet and get him in here."  The Boston Red Sox are doing just that.  

It goes down like this.  Boston needs a catcher and Baltimore wouldn't mind unloading Lopez.  So, they work something out....but wait a bit for the transaction.  AHA!!  The Yankees are now in first place in the AL East....meaning that the BoSox get a crack at any waiver players before New York does [the waiver policy goes from worst team gets first best team with the last look].  The Orioles convieniently place Lopez on the wire that day....and Boston says yes.  The deal gets worked out and everyone's happy!

Of course, you'll see mostly expensive players on this teams are just seeing if anyone bites.  And it ain't the Padres, Reds or Twins is the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Mets, Braves doing it.  Teams with a lot of money to throw away on an extra part.   

The one wrinkle in that is teams can "block" other teams from acquiring waiver players.  The Red Sox could block guys from being dealt to the Yankees but putting a claim on that player.  Of course, doing so could end up with the Red Sox being stuck with a guy they didn't want. 


This happened in 1998.  Toronto put Randy Myers on waivers and the San Diego Padres didn't want Atlanta [who really wanted him] to be able to boster their bullpen by picking him up [if you remember, the Padres and Braves were the NL's elite that year].  So the Pads picked Myers up off the waivers...thinking that they wouldn't be able to work out a deal with the Blue Jays...forcing the team to pull him back and keeping Atlanta from acquiring him.

Well, the Blue Jays just said "you can have him" and let the Padres claim Myers...and were stuck with his $13M contract.  Really, San Diego didn't want him. 

Sure, this late in the year....a guy making $10M a year has just $3.33M left on his payroll....and there are times where the original team may pick up some of the cash on the rest of the contract just to get rid of a guy that has a few more years left on a bad deal. isn't totally fair.  But nothing in baseball ever is. 

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