With the moves they made prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, the Orioles signaled that they would be active in trying to improve the team and their position in the standings. As the conversation has shifted to the waiver trade deadline, the O's continue to be active in a different way, according to ESPN's Buster Olney:
BAL said to be most aggressive team in waiver claims:They're playing goalie in front of Boston/Tampa Bay/wc contenders, blocking everything.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 8, 2013
The month of August is the revocable waivers trade period, which means that most teams place players on waivers just to gauge interest and see who is claimed and who isn't. If no team claims a player, they can be freely traded to any team. If a team claims a player, then the two teams can either work out a trade, the team can just give up the player, or they can pull the player back.
Waiver claims are given priority in reverse order of the standings, which means, as Olney notes, that the Orioles are in a position to block any move that they feel would improve one of the teams that they are chasing in the wild card or division races.
For instance, yesterday there were reports that Mark DeRosa of the Blue Jays had been claimed on waivers, but today the same reporters announced he had been pulled back from waivers, meaning that Toronto and whatever team claimed him were unable to work out a deal. If, hypothetically, the Orioles were the claiming team, perhaps they never had any interest in working out a deal, and merely felt that they should prevent DeRosa from going to a contending team ahead of them.
There is some risk in a strategy of aggressive waiver claims, because a team that wants to get rid of a bad contract could potentially just decide to let a player go. This happened between the Jays and the White Sox with Alex Rios, who was simply allowed to be claimed and the Blue Jays were out from under the contract. Coming full circle, reports today indicated that Rios had again been claimed on waivers, perhaps by the Rangers, who, with Nelson Cruz suspended, could have genuine interest in an upgrade in their outfield.
The Orioles are behind the Rangers in the wild card chase, so if they were following the aggressive pattern indicated by Olney, they could put a claim on Rios just to keep Texas from upgrading. The White Sox could then pull him back or let him go to the Orioles for the waiver claim fee, putting the O's on the hook for the rest of his salary. They are already covered in the disappointing overpaid outfielder department.
It's also possible that Dan Duquette could be out there looking for the right trade to bolster a weak area of the team, although this seems less likely. However, last year's acquisition of Joe Saunders was a waiver trade, so you never really know when the right move could fall into place and work out just fine.
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