This happens every year: August 1 rolls around, someone reports that some big and famous ballplayer has been placed on waivers and people chatter about it, pondering its meaning and importance. And every year we remind you: there is no meaning or importance to almost any waiver move.
When people refer to waivers at this time of the year (i.e. after the trade deadline and before the end of the season) they almost certainly mean revocable waivers. Meaning that the team can pull the player back off waivers if the player is claimed. The reason for using revocable waivers? So a team can try to slip someone by every other team. Because, if they can and if the player goes unclaimed by every other team (i.e. he “clears waivers”) he can be traded the same as he could have been before the deadline. He’d be eligible for the playoff roster and everything, as long as it was before the end of August.
If a player is claimed and his team does not pull him back that the claiming team is stuck with the player, including his current salary. This is why you get a lot of big names on waivers. Teams that would prefer not to pay that guy anymore would much rather give him up and his salary if they could, so they try. Rarely if ever will a highly-paid guy actually get claimed in such a fashion.
There are often games played with this process, of course. There is an order to the claiming process — teams with the worst record in the same league get to claim guys placed on waivers first, and then the choice cycles through the teams in the other league, worst record to best as well. Sometimes a team will claim a guy for the express purpose of NOT allowing him to clear waivers and thus be traded to a rival. For example, if the Braves really wanted a starting pitcher placed on waivers, the National may claim him so he does not clear and thus may not be traded to the Braves. But of course there is that risk that the team placing the guy on waivers doesn’t pull him back, thus sticking him with Washington.
So that’s waivers. Ignore them for the most part. Feel free to pay closer attention if someone is claimed and if that someone does not have an albatross contract. Pay closer attention if a guy clears waivers, because then he’s every bit as tradable as all players were back in July.
There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.
It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.
Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.
Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.