It's that time of year again. With the non-waiver trade deadline behind them, the Red Sox have placed some eight players on waivers including Rusney Castillo and Hanley Ramirez. Per Nick Cafardo:
Over the past three days, the Red Sox have run Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., Brock Holt, Hanley Ramirez, Craig Breslow, and Justin Masterson through waivers.
So yes, the Red Sox have placed a bunch of players on waivers, but it doesn't mean much of anything.
Every year after the deadline, teams around the league place huge chunks of their rosters on revocable waivers. The intent is not necessarily to trade the players or unload their contracts on a claimant. It's almost always just done to test the waters. See if someone is interested in the player and, if they're still a contender, if they'd be willing to pay (potentially a significant price) for the ability to add a player after the deadline.
Red Sox fans are of course familiar with the time this turned out to actually be a huge deal. In 2012, the Dodgers managed to land a claim on Adrian Gonzalez, enabling Boston and Los Angeles to work out the infamous Punto trade. That's absolutely the exception to the rule, however, with most players placed on waivers simply passing harmlessly through or being snatched back after a claim is made.
For the Red Sox, the likes of Craig Breslow, Justin Masterson, and Mike Napoli would likely be allowed to leave to any team that wanted to pay the rest of their contracts at this point. The Red Sox aren't going to be keeping them around for 2016, after all, and they don't gain anything by having them for the last couple months of 2015.
Brock Holt and Jackie Bradley Jr., on the other hand, cost the Red Sox nothing to keep around. Chances are the Sox are only interested in a real trade there, not a salary dump.
The interesting players are Hanley Ramirez and Rusney Castillo. The question becomes if the Red Sox would simply allow them to leave with their contract if any team placed a claim on them. When Hanley Ramirez signed, he seemed like a bargain deal, but his bat has never recovered since he ran into the wall way back in May, and he's a complete mess defensively in left field, leaving the Red Sox with the unenviable task of finding a place to put him in 2016.
I expect at this point the Red Sox would be willing to give Hanley away at not cost given the size of his contract and defensive issues. But Rusney is honestly a different story. Yes, he had a rough time getting back into the swing of things after dealing with injuries early in the year, leading him to produce a .544 OPS in 77 plate appearances when he was first called up. But he's been far better since returning in late July, and taken as a whole, his career is still only 150 plate appearances deep with a 103 OPS+. His contract is large for an international free agent, but not in the context of the league as a whole, making his impact on the payroll entirely reasonable for the upside he offers.
Either way, though, those two actually being placed on waivers doesn't say much at all about Boston's interest in sending one or both of them away. Maybe we find ourselves with another 2012 situation on our hands, but more likely than not the 2015 waiver deadline will come and go with little more than a minor move or two.