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Red Sox place six players on waivers, and why that doesn't matter

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Ah, yes, it's that time of year again.

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Jared Wickerham

The Red Sox have placed Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Mike Napoli, and Daniel Nava on waivers according to Nick Cafardo:

Combined with Craig Breslow and Kelly Johnson, already placed on waivers earlier in the month, that makes six Red Sox on the wire. It also means pretty much nothing. At least for now.

Consider this the annual reminder that revocable trade waivers almost always lead to nothing. The key word there is revocable. In essence what the Red Sox have done is dangled each of these players on a fishing line. If someone really wants them, they can put in a claim and, if their offer is to Boston's liking, the Sox can work out a trade. If not, then they just reel them right back in.

Typically, dozens of players are placed on waivers at this point in the season just to see what the market might be for them. The only danger to a team placing a claim is if they don't want the contract to begin with; once a claim has been placed, the waiving team can simply give away the player's contract to the claiming team without giving them a chance to pull back.

None of the players listed by the Red Sox, however, are on the sort of contract that would cause a team to flinch away, meaining even teams that are only cursorily interested in the player can feel free to place a claim, which might make it hard to find a realistic buyer, particularly given that waiver priority is given to teams with the lowest record, first in the waiving team's league, and then the other.

Beyond that, if the Red Sox had really been interested in trading any of these players, they would likely have done so back before the non-waiver deadline, when they could have freely dealt with any team. The only real reason to make a trade now is if a team that still hoped to contend on July 31st has reconsidered their circumstances, or if a contender has gotten sufficiently desperate to overpay for a player they would not have weeks before.

This doesn't mean that major waiver trades never happen. Red Sox fans especially should be aware of that, since the franchise-changing "Punto trade" of 2012 was accomplished via waivers. Still, for every "Dodgers claim Adrian Gonzalez" rumor that turns into a blockbuster, there are a hundred players placed on waivers and a dozen waiver claims that ultimately lead to nothing of note.

So we'll keep our eyes open, just in case somebody wants to go well outside the box. But don't hold your breath waiting for a major move that's never going to come.

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