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Waivers: How Do They Work?

The last known picture of Tanyon Sturtze (right).  Stay strong, Tanyon.
The last known picture of Tanyon Sturtze (right). Stay strong, Tanyon.

There was much agitation in Twins Territory on Wednesday, when Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal revealed that Joe Mauer had been placed on trade waivers. Now, people familiar with baseball's byzantine transaction processes knew that this wasn't that big of a deal, and teams do this all the time; indeed, Mauer himself wasn't troubled by it, but he did feel bad for his mom, because Joe Mauer. But there was still a fair amount of "OMG THEY'RE TRADING JOE" on the internets by people who maybe heard the information second hand or didn't have a full understanding of how the trade waiver process works.

Here at Twinkie Town, we know we have Twins fans of all kinds, from passionate VoRPers to casual fans. But even the most die hard ball guys and ball gals can get a little bit turned around by MLB's rules and regulations. Here, then, is a quick primer on baseball's waiver process. Maybe print out a copy to post and share at work around the water cooler!

  • Prior to the July 31st trade deadline, a player can be traded/waived at any time. If a player is put on waivers, any team can claim him. If multiple claims are submitted, he is awarded to the team with the worst record. This team will always be the Houston Astros.
  • After the deadline, players can be placed on trade waivers, as Joe Mauer was. If a team claims that player, they do not automatically get that player, but can arrange a trade with his current team. Oftentimes, the current team does this to gauge interest in a player or players, or if the player is a real dick and they just want to mess with him. This process was created in 2008 as an attempt by MLB to cash in on the success of the popular television reality series Wife Swap, but the TV show never made it out of pilot stage after Tanyon Sturtze was accidentally sent to North Korea, where he remains a political prisoner.
  • Double Secret waivers are the highly secretive waivers that I shouldn't even be telling you about. Forget I brought it up. You're the one who's paranoid. Shut up.
  • Jeff waivers take place every June 22nd. This is when all players with the name Jeff are placed on waivers for anyone to claim. If that player is not claimed by midnight, he is sent to The Jeff House in Overland Park, Kansas, where he performs menial tasks for 48 hours before returning to his original team. People with the alternate, Canadian spelling of "Geoff" are not included in Jeff waivers until they spell their name like a normal. Jeff waivers were created so fans of every team could get their chance to bitch about Jeff Francoeur.
  • Welcome Back, Kotter (WBK) waivers. Every January prior to spring training, teams select four players to send to New York City to compete in Commissioner Bud Selig's Welcome Back, Kotter Challenge. The players are quizzed on all manner of trivia from the popular late '70s sitcom, a personal favorite of Selig's, from the name of the new student who was introduced in season 4 (Beauregard "Beau" de la Barre) to matching the catchphrase with the Sweathog ("Up your nose with a rubber hose" is Vinnie Barbarino's, NOT Juan Epstein's. This trips up a lot of participants.) They then move on to the talent portion of the Challenge, where they act out an episode of the show with Wade Boggs as Mr. Kotter and Selig as the perpetually aggrieved Mr. Woodman. The player on each team with the lowest combined score on the quiz and talent competition is placed on WBK waivers, where he can be claimed by any team. If multiple claims are submitted, he is awarded to the team with the worst record. Again, this team will always be the Houston Astros.
We hope this clears things up!