To no one's surprise, Josh Beckett has been placed on waivers by the Boston Red Sox. The right-hander is owed the remainder of the $15.75 million for 2012, and another $31.5 million over the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Because of this, coupled with his performance, it's highly unlikely he is claimed by anyone. But once he clears waivers, he can be traded at any time before season's end. The kicker is that, if he's not dealt before September 1, he cannot be on a team's playoff roster should they get to that point.
It's not a given he'll be traded once he clears, it's just far more likely than his being claimed. If a team were to claim Beckett, Boston could simply walk away, handing over the last two years and $31.5 million of his deal without taking any compensation back. A current Red Sox, Cody Ross, ended up with San Francisco in 2010 in this same way, with the Marlins choosing not to pull him back, nor negotiate for compensation, in return for the Giants' claim. San Francisco inherited Ross, a fortuitous circumstance for their World Series hopes, for the cost of the claim and the salary that came with the outfielder.
Obviously, there's no team out there who is simply going to take Beckett off of Boston's hands during a season in which he owns an 84 ERA+ and has had back issues, not when, if they really wanted the next couple of years of him, they could likely acquire him this winter (or after he clears waivers) with Boston chipping in a large chunk of the salary owed him. And that's the real key here: when Beckett clears waivers, Boston can negotiate with other teams as if it were the time leading up to the trade deadline once more.
No one might be willing to roll the dice on Beckett right now, but there were whispers back at the deadline that the Texas Rangers might want to revisit Beckett trade discussions once he cleared waivers. Thanks to injuries -- ones that will impact the 2013 squad as well, as Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz both underwent Tommy John surgery -- the Rangers have been relying on Scott Feldman for innings. Beckett might still entice them, especially if they believe that, between their pitching coach and a change in environment, they can make him productive once more. Whether they wait until the off-season to revisit, or are waiting patiently for Beckett to clear waivers now, is something we'll just have to wait to see.