The trade deadline has passed, but that doesn't necessarily mean the trading stops.
July 31 is the non-waiver trade deadline. The key words there are "non-waiver." Trades can still be made in August, the process just gets a bit more complicated.
The Phillies got a lot of their work done this week, bringing in Wilson Ramos, Asdrubal Cabrera and lefty reliever Aaron Loup. There were only four players traded in July who have an OPS over .800 on the season and two of them (Ramos and Cabrera) are now Phillies. Manny Machado and Eduardo Escobar were the others.
Here's how August trades work
In order to trade a player, a team must first put that player on waivers. These waivers are revocable, meaning that if the player is claimed by another team, he can simply be pulled back and kept by the original team.
Who goes on waivers?
Nearly every player on every team. There is little risk in floating a player out on revocable waivers. The reward is the ability to strike a deal and trade the player in August.
How do waivers work?
Let's use Tommy Hunter as an example to make this clearer.
Say the Phillies place Hunter on waivers, which they'll probably do in early August because of the off chance another team would take the pricey contract. Any team will possess the ability to claim Hunter. If multiple teams claim him, the team with the worst record in the player's league gets first dibs. So the worst National League team would have the first crack at Hunter, followed by the second-worst NL team, then the third-worst NL team, and on and on.
So NL teams have top priority on NL players placed on waivers and vice versa?
Yes. If no team in the player's league claims him, the team with the worst record in the other league moves to the top of the order.
In other words, the worst team in the AL would be 15th on the queue for an NL player — Hunter would first have to go unclaimed by all 14 of the Phillies' NL counterparts before an AL team could be awarded the claim.
The order inverts the standings, so for the Phillies, this means they'll be toward the bottom of the league in the claiming order for AL players. As of today, the Phils would be 27th in order for an AL player and 12th for an NL player.
What happens if a player goes unclaimed?
Hunter is an applicable example here because it's highly unlikely he'd be claimed. Why? Because if he is, the Phillies could simply say to the claiming team, "OK, take him and pay his remaining salary."
If a player goes unclaimed for 47 hours after being placed on waivers, the player has cleared waivers and can be traded to any team just like it was July 25.
OK, so what happens if a player is claimed? What are the original team's options?
If Hunter were to be claimed, the Phillies would have three options:
• Pull him off waivers and keep him.
• Work out a trade with the team that claimed him within 48 hours.
• Allow the claiming team to simply absorb his remaining contract.
Here's the catch: A team cannot pull a player off waivers and try to pass him through again. If a player gets claimed and pulled back by his original team, the waivers become irrevocable for that player from that point.
So, for example, if the Phillies place Nick Williams on waivers, he'd be claimed immediately. Who wouldn't want a young, productive player for a cheap cost? The Phils would simply pull him back. But they would not be able to place him on waivers again at any point that season and possess the ability to keep him if he's claimed. If he were to be claimed a second time, the claiming team gets him and the Phillies have no recourse.
Obviously, they wouldn't allow that to happen.
How do we know if a player is placed on waivers?
You don't. The placement of players on waivers is not disclosed, though sometimes reporters catch wind and release the information. An official announcement is not required or revealed until a transaction goes down.
What are some examples of August trading?
When the Phillies acquired Matt Stairs and Scott Eyre in 2008, they did it in August.
When they got Jamie Moyer in 2006, it was in August.
When they traded Roberto Hernandez to the Dodgers for Victor Arano and Jesmuel Valentin, it was in August.
When the Tigers traded Justin Verlander to the Astros last summer, it was in August … and it turned out to be the biggest move any team made all year.
A notable example of a player just being absorbed by another team involved Alex Rios and the White Sox back in 2009. The Blue Jays had signed Rios to a seven-year, $70 million contract. A year later, they wanted out of it. The White Sox claimed Rios and the Blue Jays just gave him to the White Sox for nothing in return except full salary relief.
That kind of absorption worked out for both teams — it saved the Blue Jays $10 million a year, and the White Sox acquired a solid player without giving up any young talent.
There have been more recent examples since but that one comes to mind.