Paul Byrd, who makes $850,000, is not likely to clear waivers. AP
By Dan George, CNNSI.com
Let the trading begin. Or at least continue.
Oh, sure. Baseball’s official trade deadline was July 31. But the real deadline is Aug. 31. It’s just a little bit more difficult to do a deal in August than it was in July, that’s all. That’s because of waivers.
After July 31, a team may still trade players -- but only after first placing those players on waivers and giving all other teams the chance to claim them. Once a player is claimed -- the claiming team lowest in the standings takes priority -- his original team can do one of three things:
• Try to work out a trade with the claiming team. This usually involves minor leaguer players, who don’t have to clear waivers.
• Pull the player back off waivers. Most often, this happens if the two teams can’t agree on a deal.
• Simply let the player go. In this case, the claiming team is responsible for paying the rest of the player’s contract.
If a player clears waivers -- no team files a claim -- he can be traded just like he could before July 31.
Some of baseball’s most memorable trades have occurred during the waiver period. The Braves sent veteran pitcher Doyle Alexander to the Tigers for minor leaguer John Smoltz on Aug. 12, 1987. Alexander helped the Tigers win the AL East title; Smoltz is a former Cy Young winner and now perhaps the NL’s top closer. The infamous Larry Anderson-for-Jeff Bagwell deal between the Astros and Red Sox occurred on Aug. 31, 1990.
Longtime DH Harold Baines was traded five times in July or August over his career. And outfielder Joel Youngblood became the answer to a trivia question on Aug. 4, 1982, when he got a hit for the Mets in a day game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, was traded to Montreal, hopped on a plane to Canada and got a hit that night for the Expos -- the only player ever to hit safely for different teams in different cities on the same day.
Teams used to have a gentleman’s agreement regarding August waivers; players were routinely allowed to pass through unclaimed, and their team then worked out a trade. In recent years, however, some teams have taken to claiming players just to keep them away from rivals.
This can be a dangerous game, however: The Padres claimed lefty reliever Randy Myers in 1998 to keep him away from the Braves, their likely postseason opponent. When the Blue Jays let Myers go, the Padres were stuck for the $13 million or so left on his contract through 2000 -- even though injuries sidelined him for the next two seasons. The funny thing? The Braves didn’t even want Myers.
Don’t expect such machinations this month; too many teams have already maxed out their payrolls to risk taking on the salary of a player they don’t really want. That’s why pricey players like the Rockies’ Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle, the Royals’ Roberto Hernandez, and the Rangers’ Ivan Rodriguez, will likely go unclaimed and be traded only if their original teams foot some of the bill on their contracts.
But there are plenty of trade candidates, most of them inexpensive players either at the end of contracts or simply more valuable to their teams for what they can fetch in return, whether it’s prospects or money. Angels middle reliever Scott Schoeneweis ($325,000), Royals starter Paul Byrd ($850,000), Marlins first baseman Kevin Millar ($900,000) and Devil Rays outfielder Randy Winn ($950,000) fall into these categories.
Oh, yeah. The deals are far from over.
CNNSI.com's Power Rankings
Atlanta Braves They were 19-21 on May 15. Since then? How about 54-17? They have an 18-game lead, yet some of the locals are giving GM John Schuerholz heat for standing pat. Amazing.
New York Yankees How about the Boss complaining about the Red Sox trading for Cliff Floyd? Even if he’s right, talk about poor form. Jeez, George … if you get all the players, who’s going to be left to play against?
Minnesota Twins About the only Twin who hadn’t been hot was David Ortiz. No more. A month ago, Ortiz was hitting .235 and hadn't homered in 43 games. Now he’s riding an 18-game hitting streak, not to mention batting .385 with seven homers with 17 RBIs since the All-Star break.
Seattle Mariners Over the weekend Edgar Martinez became only the 11th player to hit three sacrifice flies in a game. How rare is that? Fourteen players have hit four home runs in a single game.
Arizona Diamondbacks Randy Johnson, 38, throws 149 pitches against the Expos, then comes back five days later and two-hits the Mets while striking out 11. There may be something left in the tank after all.
Boston Red Sox Pedro Martinez (15-2) and Derek Lowe (15-5) are on pace to become the Sox’s first pair of 20-game winners since Mel Parnell and Ellis Kinder in 1949. Only Curt Schilling (18-4) and Randy Johnson (16-4) have a better 1-2 record in the majors.
Anaheim Angels OK, we may be getting ahead of ourselves, but here’s something to think about if the Angels make the playoffs: At 23-19, they’re the only AL team with a winning record against the Yankees over the last four years.
Oakland Athletics Miguel Tejada’s 24-game hitting streak is the second-longest in the majors this season and one shy of the club record set by Jason Giambi in 1997.
Los Angeles Dodgers They added Paul Shuey for relief help, and he immediately got knocked around in a 12-4 loss to the Reds. Said Shuey: "It feels like the first day of school and I got met in the parking lot and hit by the bully."
San Francisco Giants Some columnists suggested Barry Bonds might stay healthier by moving to first base. No way, said Bonds: "I'll never play first base, brother. The ball comes to you too fast. I never have ever worn a cup in my life, so that would be really hard to do without grabbing my crotch every five minutes."
St. Louis Cardinals Don’t look for Scott Rolen to seriously test the free-agent market after the season. He grew up a Cardinals fan, and St. Louis has an excellent record in re-signing players (see Mark McGwire and Jim Edmonds) it’s traded for.
Cincinnati Reds GM Jim Bowden certainly stepped in it with his comment comparing a possible baseball strike to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But the reported $50,000 fine by the commish was textbook PC overreaction. You do have other things to do, don’t you, Bud?
Houston Astros How did his teammates react Sunday to Kirk Saarloos’ fourth straight victory? They made him and the rest of the Houston rookies wear dresses in the clubhouse. "It's going to look good, I tell you," said Saarloos of his snug purple number. "At least I got sleeves on my dress."
New York Mets Mark Guthrie’s 27-inning scoreless streak over 33 outings, which ended Sunday, was the longest in the majors this year and the Mets’ best since Dwight Gooden went 31 innings in 1985.
Florida Marlins No mas! Their Spanish-language radio announcers, Felo Ramfrez and Luis Quintana, didn’t make the Marlins’ recent road trip to Montreal -- and also won't go along to Houston and Arizona this week.
Montreal Expos Until Sunday’s 5-4 loss to the Astros, they had been 9-0 at home on the Sabbath -- and 0-9 on the road.
Baltimore Orioles Seventeen Australians have played in the major leagues. Right-hander John Stephens, a native of Sydney, is the latest -- although his 13.00 ERA in two starts could make his stay a short one.
Philadelphia Phillies No hard feelings from Larry Bowa toward Scott Rolen. After the trade with the Cardinals, Bowa left a message on Rolen’s answering machine: "It's been a pleasure managing you. If everybody played the game like you do, there would be no problems. Careers are short; try to be happy wherever you end up."
Chicago White Sox If it seems like Joe Crede has been a prospect forever, well, you’re not far off. When the 24-year-old third baseman was called up last week, he had played seven seasons -- that’s 2,761 at-bats -- in the minors.
Pittsburgh Pirates At 31, Adam Hyzdu is making the most of his first real shot in the majors. He’s hitting .356 with six home runs and 19 RBIs in 26 games and, with Darren Lewis’ retirement, looks more and more like the Bucs’ starting center fielder.
Toronto Blue Jays Carlos Delgado’s string of 432 consecutive games played is over. He sat out Sunday and Monday with a lower back strain.
Cleveland Indians Ellis Burks is another guy rumored to be on the trading block. If he goes, the record for most major league ballparks homered in will go with him. His solo shot Saturday night at Safeco Field gave him 41.
Chicago Cubs There’s an unsightly brown gap in the ivy at Wrigley Field, and team officials suspect a White Sox fan poured weed-killer -- or beer or something -- on the vines during their cross-town series in mid-June. No rumors yet about a second sprayer.
Texas Rangers Feast or famine: The Rangers scored 19 runs against the Red Sox on Thursday night, then were shut out the next night. It was the majors’ greatest two-game swing in runs scored since the Cubs thumped the Padres 23-6 on May 17, 1977, then lost 6-0 on May 18.
San Diego Padres They’ve used more players than any other major league team this season -- 51. The Padres also head the list with 30 pitchers used, two short of the record set by the Indians in 2000.
Kansas City Royals They not only still have Paul Byrd, but GM Allard Baird still has a sense of humor. Just after the trade deadline passed last week, Baird strolled into the clubhouse, stopped and stared at the players. "Geez, what are you guys all doing here?" he said. "I thought I traded all you guys." The room erupted in laughter.
Detroit Tigers How about Hall of Famer Al Kaline blasting another possible players’ strike? "There is no excuse for a stoppage," Kaline told the Detroit Free Press. "Sometimes it's better to give than to receive. ... Maybe the players will suffer. So what? I hate to bring up money, [but] some players may only make $10 million instead of $15 million. Some owners may have to give up something. So what? The most important thing is what is right for the game. The fans are the game.”
Milwaukee Brewers They fined reliever Mike DeJean $1,000 for his argument with manager Jerry Royster. But since $500 is the maximum fine allowed under the current players’ contract, Dejean got $500 for not handing the ball to Royster -- and another $500 for yelling at him.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays The attendance situation in St. Petersburg is worse than we thought. The Rays officially sold 512,250 tickets in the first three months of the season -- but 153,546 of those were no-shows. The team actually drew fewer than 5,000 fans for two games, according to reports the team filed with the city.