The Waiver Trade Deadline: How Does It Work?


July 31, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill (2) celebrates with third base coach Glenn Sherlock (53) after hitting a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the sixth inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

It’s finally over Dbacks Nation! Yeah think again. The non-waiver addition of the trade deadline is over, but that doesn’t mean trades can’t happen. The Waiver Trade Deadline began today, and just like the non-waiver deadline, this month is shaping up to be very active on the trade front as contenders try to find the final piece that will push them over the top. This of course is not the case for the Diamondbacks. The Snakes are looking ahead to 2015 and beyond, and are sellers this year. The main objective of a seller during August is to try to find value pieces that contenders want, while at the same time trying to shred some more payroll.

Most casual baseball fans don’t know a whole lot about the waiver deadline, and it can get really complicated. Most fans just know that trades can still take place. There is one distinct difference between the deadline that just took place, and the trading period that will take place till August 31st: the player must clear waivers, hence the name of the period.

Waiver trading is probably the most complicated part of the Major League Baseball. That is why I am here to explain the rules. Hopefully by the time your done reading, you will have better idea of how the whole process works.

Let’s use Aaron Hill as an example. Here is how the process works:

1. Hill would have to be placed on waivers by the Diamondbacks.

2. If one team places a claim on Hill then that team wins. However if more than one team places a claim on Hill, then according to MLB rules, the team with the worse, or if there are more than two teams worst record in the National League wins. This step is not restricted to just the National League. If no N.L team places a claim on Hill, then the waiver goes to the American League and the same process takes place. Playoff tiebreakers do apply in that situation. Lets say I was using Alex Rios of the Rangers as an example. Then the same process would occur expect the claim would first go to the American League, and then if no A.L team wants him, then the claim goes to the N.L.

3. Of course the fun start when a claim is actually awarded. Let’s say the Giants, who could use a proven second basemen for the stretch run, place a claim on Hill and the claim is accepted. Then the Snakes have three options: they can pull Hill back and decide to keep him ending the claim. Remember at that point, Arizona still has control over Hill’s fate. They can also try to trade him and negotiate with the Giants for two days, or just let San Francisco have him. If Arizona decides to just let the Giants have him, then the Giants take on the remainder of Hill’s contract, which is 11 million for this year (this year’s contract status depends on how many games are left in the season at the time of the trade), and 12 million each of the next two seasons. In 2017, Hill becomes a free agent.

4. If he clears waivers meaning the player goes unclaimed, then salary negotiations begin. Most trades that happen before August 31st take place after a player has cleared waivers because teams don’t want to pay the full contract. No trade clauses are still in effect for these deals.

That is the best way of explaining the non-waiver version of the trade deadline. Hopefully this has helped all of you that had no idea what trading in August meant.