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Trade waivers, how do they work? An FAQ.

Mitchell Leff

Let's say it's August, and your Athletics are running out of middle infielders. One option:

Or the A's can complete a waiver deal! How do trade assignment waivers work? A few of our sister team sites have great primers on trade assignment waivers (Twinkie TownBless You BoysBlue Bird Banter). I'm going to address a few frequently asked questions, however, and stick around to answer any other questions that come up.

1. If the A's try to trade for somebody, does every other team have the ability to block that trade because the A's have the best record in baseball?

Probably not. The first thing to remember with trade waivers is that they usually are not acquired on an ad hoc basis as trades are completed. Rather, trade waivers are requested essentially as soon as the trade waiver period begins an hour after the July 31 trade deadline. It is at that point that teams can put in claims for the player, beginning with the same league of that player from worst record to best record, and then the opposite league from worst record to best record. In this situation, there is no trade yet on the table. Teams are speculating on either (1) blocking a player from going to a rival or (2) want to complete a deal on the basis that they are the only team they can negotiate with because of the waiver claim.

If no claim is made, however, then the player has secured waivers through the end of the season, meaning that player can be traded like he could have been before July 31. For example, several notable players such as Alex Rios, Curtis Granderson, and Ian Desmond have cleared waivers, and so other teams would not be an impediment to a trade to the Athletics (not that the A's would necessarily be targeting those particular guys).

2. If the A's trade away minor league players, do they have to put them on waivers?

Only players on a team's 40-man roster need to be placed on trade waivers. All other minor league players do not need waivers of any sort.

3. When do the A's need to acquire players to use them for the postseason?

Only players in the Athletics organization on August 31 can potentially be added to the postseason roster. While deals can be completed after that point, such September players are not eligible to play in the postseason.