Yesterday, when the Red Sox signed Stephen Drew, they said that they’d send him down to the minors to get game-ready for seven to ten days. The problem? He’s long since out of minor league options and since he’s not on the disabled list it’s not like the Sox could just send him on a rehab assignment. The solution: optional waivers, which allow the Sox to get him off the 25-man roster for a few days, replace him with someone else and allow him to get game-ready.
A problem with that? Like all waivers, other teams could claim Drew when the Sox do that. Now, they’re revocable waivers so it’s not like the Sox would actually lose him, but if he were claimed and the Sox pulled him back he’d be stuck on the big league roster and the Sox would either have to use him now or play a man short until he’s ready.
As Ken Rosenthal of Fox explains today, however, that’s not going to happen. Why? A gentlemen’s agreement:
Why wouldn’t an AL East competitor such as the Yankees claim Drew and force the Red Sox to keep him in the majors and play one man short until he is game ready? Because, rival executives said, such a violation of protocol would invite retribution, prompting the Red Sox to respond by claiming players from the offending club . . .
. . . “If you start a war like that, they will get you later,” the exec said. “The tit-for-tat is not really worth it.”
I totally get that, even if I generally disdain gentlemen’s agreements on the grounds that, inevitably, you encounter people who are less-than-gentlemen who ruin it for everyone else. Better bet is to have rules in place the avoid the need for such arrangements. At the end of the column Rosenthal makes much the same point.
Of course, this is baseball. And if streamlined efficiency was an important consideration, lots of rules would need to be changed, the game would probably be unrecognizable and Josh Beckett would be out of a job. So what I’m saying is that it’s a mixed bag.