Wednesday evening, it was reported by Jayson Stark that the Red Sox placed Mike Lowell on waivers. Then, just a couple hours later, Ken Rosenthal broke the news that not only did the Boston also put Jonathan Papelbon on waivers, but that another team claimed him. ZOMG? No, no. Everyone relax. Why? Because the Red Sox put just about everyone on waivers:
VMart, Beltre, Ortiz, Lowell, Okajima, Dice-K, Hall, Hermida, Scutaro, Lowrie, Pap, Wake, Lester and Buchholz put on waivers last 3 days.
So does any of this matter? No. Nearly every player gets placed on waivers in August. Even though a team claimed Papelbon, the Sox can just pull him back, and nothing happens.
It's something that SB Nation's Jeff Sullivan calls "investigative, and harmless." Allow him to answer all your questions and concerns about waivers after the jump.
For these purposes, I'm going to use specific player examples to explain the basics of how waivers work. Players, of course, don't place themselves on waivers and generally aren't aware of what's going on, but consider this artistic license. Upon being placed on waivers, a player can go claimed, or unclaimed:
Brian Fuentes: Anybody want me?
Carlos Zambrano: Anybody want me?
Carlos Zambrano: Well I'll be here if you want me
If a player goes unclaimed, he is available to be traded to anybody. If a player gets claimed, then one must sort out the issue of waiver claim priority. In the event of multiple claims, priority goes to the team with the worst record in the same league as the player.
Adam LaRoche: Anybody want me?
Everybody else: No
Adam Dunn: Anybody want me?
White Sox: Yes
Tigers: Well we have the worst record, so he's ours
Rockies: But we're in the NL
Giants: So are we
Rockies: But we're worse than you
Once a claiming team is identified, the player on waivers may be pulled back off waivers, traded to the claiming team, or given to the claiming team with his entire contract.
Albert Pujols: Anybody want me?
Jose Guillen: Anybody want me?
Giants: Well I guess
Royals: We require either a player who has also cleared waivers, or a player who is not on your 40-man roster
Royals: Pleasure doing business with you
Chone Figgins: Anybody want me?
Angels: We miss you
I hope you now have a greater understanding of the waivers process. It's worth adding that, if a player is placed on waivers and pulled back, then he may be placed on waivers again, but said waivers would be irrevocable. Meaning, the team could not pull him back again. If a player gets claimed, and the player's team pulls him back, that's pretty much the end of it.
So, waivers aren't really a big deal. Most everyone will land on waivers at some point this month, from the Willie Bloomquists to the Evan Longorias of the world. The best players will get claimed and pulled back. The worst players, or the players with the worst contracts, will fly through unclaimed. Some will attract some interest, and some will move on. Don't fret, or even raise an eyebrow when you hear that a player's been placed on waivers. Raise an eyebrow when a player's rumored to be traded. That's when the month of August can actually get interesting.
Hope that helps.