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Revocable Trade Waivers, Bryce Harper, and the Dodgers: What Happened?

Dodgers
Apr 5, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) walks back to the dugout during the eighth inning against the New York Mets at Nationals Park. New York Mets defeated Washington Nationals 8-2. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

What Are Revocable Trade Waivers?

Revocable trade waivers is a system that works to allow teams to trade talent away in August. After the non-waiver deadline on July 31st, this is the only way to trade talent. Basically, it allows for teams to place a player on the market and opens them up for trade negotiations across MLB. This process begins with the same league and the team with the worst record in that respective league. Assuming a player gains the interest of multiple teams, the one in the same league and the worst record gets priority in working out a deal first with the team who owns the talent. Once a claim is made by an interested team, the team that owns the player can do one of the following:

  1. Immediately remove the player from waivers and keep him (hence “revocable”)
  2. Negotiate a trade just like normal with the interested team
  3. Release the player and his salary to the claiming team

What Happened?

Option number 1 happened as mentioned above. The Dodgers made a claim on Harper and immediately within the hour the Nationals removed Harper from waivers and kept him. Hardly anything happened. No team made a move for Harper so the Dodgers made a claim which was swiftly ignored and negated.

Why?

The potential reasons why the Dodgers’ front office would stake an seemingly meaningless claim on Harper are probably many.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

However, Farhan Zaidi and Andrew Friedman are not ones to make a meaningless decision. The most likely reason was probably

defensive. The Dodgers most likely sought to block any other teams from acquiring Harper. Some teams may have made a desperate and expensive decision to pry Harper from the Nationals. The list of teams in the NL who have a better record than the Dodgers are:

  • Colorado Rockies
  • Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Milwaukee Brewers
  • St. Louis Cardinals
  • Philadelphia Phillies
  • Atlanta Braves

    Dodgers
    Andrew Friedman

It is true that the Nationals would have genuinely asked for the world from any prospective team who was interested in Harper. The odds of the Nationals actually working anything out for Harper were slim to none to begin with. Most likely, the Nationals were simply seeing who has interest so that come off-season the trading can be done more advantageously.

Analysis

Essentially, the Dodgers kept all other National League teams who have a better record than them from even making a claim on Harper. Granted, it was an extremely low possibility that any team would have offered anything for Harper. The Nationals would have asked too much. However, the Dodgers played a little administrative defense with this move. Possibly, the Dodgers making a claim on Harper may be an indication that they intend to pursue him this off-season when he becomes a free agent.

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Written by Eric Morse

Born and raised in Southern Oregon, Eric has always had a love for baseball. Growing up visiting LA often to watch the Dodgers, Eric comes from a long line of Dodger fanatics. He spends his time ministering to youth and following the Dodgers.

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  1. There is no reason for the Nats to see who is interested for the off season trades. Harper is a free agent.

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