A refresher on the revocable trade waiver process

NEW YORK - The Braves continue to lose to teams not named the Nationals.

Atlanta dropped another game last night, falling to the Dodgers 6-2. The Braves now are four games back of the Nats in the National League East and have dropped eight of their last 10 games.

The only two wins in that span were over the Nats.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today created quite a stir among a portion of the Nationals’ fan base yesterday when he tweeted out that Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Ian Desmond and Gio Gonzalez were all placed on revocable trade waivers by the Nationals.

Per Nightengale, Desmond and Gonzalez cleared waivers, while Harper and Strasburg were claimed by at least one team but were subsequently pulled back by the Nats.

What’s this all mean? Why would the Nats put these four players on waivers during a pennant race?

Let’s take a minute to answer those questions and clear this all up.

First of all, don’t take Nightengale’s report to mean that any of the four players listed above are going anywhere. A team risks nothing by placing its players on revocable trade waivers, and if a player is claimed, as Harper and Strasburg reportedly were, the player can be pulled back off waivers and will remain with his original team.

gonzalez-gio-grey-pitch-sidebar.jpgNo harm done there.

If a player clears waivers, as Desmond and Gonzalez reportedly did, then that player’s team can discuss a trade involving that player with any other team. But again, it doesn’t necessarily mean that anything involving that player will happen.

Every year around this time, teams place players on revocable trade waivers largely to determine interest in that player and get a sense of that player’s value. It’s essentially a way for a team to gauge how other organizations view its players.

It can open up trade discussions, sure. It can lead to some groundwork for a future deal. But just because a player is placed on revocable trade waivers, it doesn’t mean that anything will happen. It often is just a way for teams to see how their players are valued by other front offices.

It used to be that news of a player getting placed on revocable trade waivers didn’t become public, because this is such a common thing. But in this age where every little piece of information is put out there and dissected, these reports have started to happen more frequently, and they tend to confuse or rattle some fans because the terms “waivers” or “claimed” are used in other contexts in the game, as well.

So don’t take this to mean that Harper, Strasburg, Desmond and Gonzalez are all getting shipped away in the middle of a playoff push. That ain’t happenin’.

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