Attention shifts to waiver wire
July 31 deadline passes, but trade intruigue remains
For weeks and weeks, you've been hearing about the July 31 trading deadline and wondering who would go where and how these potential blockbuster deals would affect the outcome of the pennant race.
Now that that deadline has passed, you might think it's time to take the pot off the hot stove and let it cool for a while.
Well, not so fast.
The 4 p.m. July 31 deadline was only the non-waiver trade cutoff.
That means most of the high-profile dealing is probably done for the 2005 season, but there's a whole month left for teams to read between the lines of Major League Baseball's complicated rules and still work some trading magic.
This often-baffling scenario can best be spelled out like this: After the July 31 deadline, any player on a 40-man roster must clear Major League waivers before being traded. That is, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams he cannot be traded. The club that made the waiver request can either withdraw the request and keep the player or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player and be obligated to that player's current contract.
A waiver, which is a permission granted for certain assignments of player contracts, can get complicated if more than one team makes a waiver claim. If more than one club in the same league makes a claim, then the club currently lower in the standings gets the player. If clubs in both leagues claim the player, preference goes to the club in the same league as the club requesting waivers.
If none of that makes sense, think of it this way.
Throughout the season, players ranging from superstar to end-of-the-bench, barely-in-the-bigs status routinely and often quietly go on waiver lists. This is a routine manner in which teams can figure out how much interest certain players are gathering from other teams and try to get trade talks going.
The same withdrawal guidelines are in effect now, with one big difference in the sequence: Teams waive players with the explicit intent of shedding them and their contracts. In other words, if Team A puts in a claim just to prevent Team B from making a deal, Team A might find itself with an unwanted drain on its payroll.
The best example of this came in 1998 with the San Diego Padres, who put in a claim for lefty closer Randy Myers to keep Toronto from dealing the left-handed closer to Atlanta.
At the time, the Padres and Braves were leading their respective divisions, meaning the Padres only wanted to deny Atlanta an extra weapon for their guaranteed playoff meeting. They didn't want Myers -- but they got him, and picked up a bill of $14 million for the total of 14 1/3 innings he pitched for the Padres after Toronto didn't withdraw his name.
This year, with so many teams so close in the standings and seemingly in the hunt for playoff berths at the July 31 deadline, it's possible that some of the real blockbusters could happen in August.
Larry Walker, for example, went to the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug. 6 after a few deals with his name in them fell through before July 31. Walker was instrumental in helping the Cards to the World Series.
Lefty relief specialist Mike Myers became a cog in the Boston bullpen after coming back to the Red Sox from Seattle on the same day St. Louis got Walker.
Last August brought a few lesser-impact trades, too, with Elmer Dessens going to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ben Grieve going to the Chicago Cubs and the Minnesota Twins acquiring veteran catcher Pat Borders.
One more important thing to note: After Aug. 31, any player added to a Major League roster will not be eligible for the postseason, so the pressure's on for another month, with contenders and pretenders slowly separated as names shift in and out of waiver-wire oblivion.
With that in mind, here's a rundown of possible August trade candidates:
Boston Red Sox: OF Manny Ramirez
New York Yankees: OF/IF Tony Womack
Baltimore Orioles: RHP Sidney Ponson; LHP Steve Kline
Tampa Bay Devil Rays: 1B Travis Lee; SS Alex Gonzalez
Chicago White Sox: RHP Jose Contreras
Minnesota Twins: LHP J.C. Romero; RHP Joe Mays
Cleveland Indians: RHP Bob Wickman; RHP Kevin Millwood
Detroit Tigers: DH Dmitri Young; OF Rondell White
Kansas City: 1B Mike Sweeney; RHP Jose Lima; OF Terrence Long
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 1B Casey Kotchman
Seattle Mariners: LHP Jamie Moyer; LHP Eddie Guardado
Atlanta Braves: RHP Dan Kolb
Philadelphia Phillies: 1B Jim Thome; LHP Billy Wagner; RHP Ugueth Urbina; 1B Ryan Howard
Milwaukee Brewers: 1B Lyle Overbay
Cincinnati Reds: OF Ken Griffey Jr.; 1B Sean Casey; SS Rich Aurilia; LHP Eric Milton; C Jason LaRue
Pittsburgh Pirates: LHP Mark Redman; RHP Jose Mesa
San Francisco Giants: OF Marquis Grissom; OF Alex Sanchez
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.