Waivers are sort of this secret part of baseball. The players don’t understand how it works, few in the media do and it’s a sure way to throw fans into a panic. Rabble-rousing reporters love to mention how certain big names are on waivers. But it’s really not a big deal.
Here is some information via the Inside The Majors blog written by Bart Given.
There are four kinds of waivers — outright, optional, unconditional release and trade. Think about waivers as teams getting permission from other teams to make a roster move.
Outright waivers are what happens when teams take a player off the 40-man roster. Optional waivers are for some players (but not all) who are optioned back to the minors but stay on the 40-man roster. Unconditional release waivers are self-explanatory. Trade waivers are what we’re going through now.
Teams can place seven players a day on the waiver wire. Teams routinely do this to nearly every player on the roster. You do this to gather information about a possible trade for now or in the future. Or maybe you waive a few stars to try and hide the fact you’re waiving somebody else you do want to trade.
By default, any player claimed is automatically pulled off waivers unless MLB is told otherwise.
If a player is claimed and the original team wants to make a deal, clubs have two business days to make a deal. Team can claim players based by league affiliation, lowest winning percentage first. Basically, AL players go through the AL first before they get to the NL teams.
So if you hear the Yankees put Players, X, Y and Z on waivers, it doesn’t mean they’re trying to unload them. It’s just Brian Cashman giving himself options just in case something happens