Starting pitcher Kevin Gausman reportedly moved from the Braves to the Reds on Monday.
Wait, aren’t August trades no more?
Gausman’s changing teams is an example of the one big way a team can acquire a potential difference-maker this month with August trades a thing of the past. Gausman was placed on waivers by Atlanta and claimed by Cincinnati, which absorbed his remaining contract. The Braves get nothing in return other than cash savings, and in this case an open rotation spot to bring back Mike Foltynewicz from the minors.
In the past, teams would place most of their high-priced veterans or non-core-pieces on waivers in August because there was no risk. If the player was claimed, the original team had a brief, 48-hour window to work out a trade with the claiming team, or simply pull the player back off of waivers if no deal could be reached. These were referred to as “revocable waivers” because the player’s availability could be revoked by his original team if no deal was reached.
Revocable waivers are no more because the August trade is no longer an option. Now, if a player is placed on waivers by a team in August and claimed by another, he goes to that new team. This is what happened with Gausman.
It will likely happen more throughout the month of August. It won’t happen with someone like Zack Wheeler, for example, because he has more value to the Mets as a player than the cost savings of letting him go to another team.
It could happen, though, with players still owed a chunk of change by teams with no shot at making the playoffs.
The Pirates, for example, would probably let another team claim and absorb the salaries of Jung-Ho Kang and Francisco Liriano. Maybe they’d do it with Melky Cabrera, as well.
The Blue Jays would let another team take Justin Smoak, a switch-hitting first baseman owed a few million dollars the rest of the season. Smoak could help the bench of several contending teams.
The Tigers would obviously let someone claim the remaining contracts of Jordan Zimmermann and Miguel Cabrera, but there’s no chance any team would. Josh Harrison is a more realistically claimable player.
The Mariners would probably love to get out from under the Dee Gordon, Kyle Seager and Felix Hernandez contracts, but no team will be assuming those salaries either.
The Royals would likely let another team just take Billy Hamilton.
The players to keep the closest eye on are those owed more than $1 million the rest of the season for bad teams before reaching free agency.
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