Q&A: What the Heck Did the Angels (and Some Other Teams) Just Do?

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

By now, you’ve probably seen that the Angels put what we in the business call “Darn Near a Whole Roster Of Players” on waivers. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Lucas Giolito, Matt Moore, Reynaldo López, Hunter Renfroe and Randal Grichuk are all free for the salary relief taking; USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that Dominic Leone is on waivers as well. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Harrison Bader, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger and José Cisnero have also been placed on waivers by their respective clubs. What does this mean for those players? What about the teams waiving or claiming them? What about you, the reader? Let’s dive in to some of the common questions I’ve seen since the news broke.

Q: What does “being placed on waivers” even mean anyway?

In the context of post-trade deadline transactions, being placed on waivers is similar to the waiver action that occurs when a player is designated for assignment. However, since the trade deadline has passed, the option to trade a player who has been placed on waivers is gone. The only option for a claiming team is to claim the player straight-up, paying all of his remaining salary for the rest of the season.

Q: Ok, so how does this work in practice?

Teams will simultaneously submit claims for whichever player(s) they’d like to add to their roster, and the claim will be awarded to the worst team by 2023 winning percentage. In the event of a tie, the claim will go to the team in the same league (AL or NL) as the team waiving the player. In the event both teams are from the same league, the claim will go to the team with the worse record last season.

Q: Why is all this happening right now?

Players are only eligible for postseason play if they’re on a team’s 40-man roster prior to September 1; players in a team’s organization by September 1 but not on the 40-man can be added to the postseason roster if they’re replacing someone on the injured list. Placing Giolito et al. on waivers now allows the requisite 48 hours for claims to be made prior to the end of the day on August 31. As such, these teams waited as long as reasonably possible to place players on waivers, knowing that their new clubs would surely want them to be eligible for postseason play.

Q: How much in salary will the claiming team have to cover?

There are 186 days in the major league season this year; there will be 31 remaining when these players are claimed Thursday, the day it’s been reported the claims will go through. As such, a player’s new team will be paying exactly one-sixth of his full-season salary.

Q: Can a team claim multiple players?

Yes! A team can submit claims for any and all players on waivers, but there’s no turning back. If, for example, the Yankees want to claim everyone on waivers to block the Red Sox from claiming anyone, that’s their prerogative. However, unlike under prior CBAs, waivers are not revocable on either side of the transaction. In this scenario, the Yankees would then be on the hook for all of the money owed to all the players, and they would have to make room on their 40-man roster accordingly. Teams are forbidden from making claims for the express purpose of blocking other teams from making a claim, so the Yankees could not immediately designate a claimed player for assignment to keep them from the Red Sox with no intent to roster him themselves.

Q: What if a player goes unclaimed?

While this process is generally similar to what happens after a DFA, the outcome if a player goes unclaimed is decidedly different. If none of the other 29 teams bite on a player, he simply remains with his current team. He can’t be placed on waivers again, but he can be DFA’d and go through that waiver process. At that point, however, it would be too late for postseason eligibility.

Q: Can the Angels change their mind if a player is claimed?

No! Again, there’s no turning back. This is not like the old August 31 waiver deadline where a player could be placed on waivers and then pulled off if the claiming team had no intent to work out a deal.

Q: So what’s the incentive for a team to just let players go without getting another player in return?

There’s only a couple reasons to do this, and I won’t opine on their validity: one is money, and the other is giving other players a chance. The former is especially pertinent for the Angels, who we have exceeding the $233 million luxury tax by what basically amounts to a rounding error of a little under $1.5 million. There will surely be enough of these players claimed to take them under that mark — the group as a whole is due about $6.44 million for the rest of the year, but Giolito alone would do it. Being under the luxury tax threshold eliminates all associated penalties, meaning the 2024 compensation pick they’ll receive if Shohei Ohtani signs elsewhere would come after the second round of the draft, rather than coming after the fourth round as it would if they were a luxury tax payor.

Giving other players a chance is the baseball argument, and the one we’re far likelier to hear expressed publicly in the aftermath of all this. In placing Bader on waivers, the Yankees are perhaps signaling they’d like to look at Jasson Domínguez; the Angels would be giving run to a lesser-ranked prospect like Jordyn Adams or Kyren Paris, to name a couple of potential examples.

Ben Clemens wrote more about this situation, including its potential playoff implications, here. If you’re interested in reading more about the waiver process, you can do so here, in the section on Rule 8 – Major League Waivers. And if you have other questions on how the mechanics of waivers work, or on the payroll implications here, feel free to drop them in the comments!

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8 months ago

How does the player claim ordering work? I assume players are claimed one at a times? So if a team claims one player, they go to the back of the line for the next? Does a team submit a waiver priority and MLB works through the ordering? How many days after a player is placed on waivers must the claim be placed? Where are the rules for the waivers procedures at if we wanted to read them for ourselves?

8 months ago
Reply to  Jon Becker

so is this wrong?


“If a club has already previously claimed a player on outright waivers in a given year, the club’s claiming priority will be moved to last among the 30 clubs.”

8 months ago
Reply to  Jon Becker

so if that sentence were more clear, it would state: “If a club has already previously claimed a player on outright waivers in a given year, the club’s claiming priority will be moved to last among the 30 clubs if that player comes on waivers again that season.”

8 months ago
Reply to  Jon Becker

And as we all know, Joe Schmo is a much better player than John Doe.

8 months ago
Reply to  villapalomares

But they both pale in comparison to John Dowd

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8 months ago
Reply to  coolcoolcool

I Dowd that