Diamondbacks LaRoche and Johnson Clear Waivers

Many casual baseball fans unsafely assume that once the July 31st Trade Deadline has passed that players cannot be traded. This is of course false. I know you are asking yourself, “Well why do they have a trade deadline then if it really isn’t a deadline for making trades?”

The July 31st Trade Deadline represents the date in which teams can openly discuss any player in their systems and trade for any player in another team’s system. After the July 31st date teams can still make trades, there are just a few more steps involved.

Beginning August 1st, a player can be traded only after he clears waivers and can only be traded for a player who has also cleared waivers or is not on a team’s 40-man roster. Most teams will put their players on waivers hoping they will clear to allow them to make a trade subsequent to the July 31st deadline.

A player placed on waivers can be claimed. If he is claimed the current team can either work out a deal where the claiming team will take ownership of the player or the current team can elect to “pull back” the player meaning he is no longer on waivers. A player can only be pulled back one time.

If a player placed on waivers is claimed by more than one team, the team with the worst record has first chance to work out a deal. If a player is not claimed by any team he is referred to as “clearing waivers” at which point the team placing him on waivers is free to trade the player to any team.

The waiver process is a cat and mouse game. Teams will attempt to sneak players through hoping no one catches them. Teams will watch closely and there will be times when a team will claim a player just to keep a competitor from being able to trade for the player should he clear waivers.

There is some danger to this as the Diamondbacks found out during the 2007 season. After the July 31st deadline teams began placing players on waivers hoping to make deals in August. Pitcher Byung Hyun Kim and infielder Jeff Cirillo were both put on waivers.

The Diamondbacks thought the Dodgers or Rockies were interested in adding these two players so they made a waiver claim hoping to block any trades. Instead the current teams for Kim and Cirillo accepted the waiver claims and sent both players to Arizona who then had to find room on their 40-man roster for each. Waiver wire manipulation can become a full time job and can be kind of like playing the lottery.

Word was leaked out yesterday that the Arizona Diamondbacks had placed first baseman Adam LaRoche and second baseman Kelly Johnson on waivers to see whether anyone would make a claim and to gauge interest by teams wanting to trade for these veterans.

Both players passed through waivers without a claim. This means the Diamondbacks are now free to field trade requests for either of these players. That does not mean either of them will be traded, just that the process has been followed and they can be traded if the right deal comes forward.

Personally I doubt either player will be moved. Both like playing in Arizona despite the struggles the team has had this season. They have each expressed a desire of signing a long-term contract with the Diamondbacks.

The team seems less inclined to move any more players. Given the bounty they receive trading Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson, Chris Snyder, and Chad Qualls there is not as much of an incentive to make additional deals unless one comes along that they cannot pass up.

So for the next two weeks we’ll watch closely to see whether Johnson or LaRoche will finish the season in Sedona Red and black.


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