Waiver issues for Manny Ramirez
MILWAUKEE -- In the wake of widespread reports the Los Angeles Dodgers are about to waive Manny Ramirez and reports that the Chicago White Sox plan to put in a claim on him, it is perhaps worth a quick review of just how this complicated -- and some would say convoluted -- process works.
First of all, the simple fact the Dodgers probably will put Ramirez on waivers is hardly news. In the weeks immediately after the July 31 trading deadline, almost every player in the major leagues is put on waivers, simply to see who gets through and who doesn't, and those who do clear without being claimed by another club are then eligible to be traded even though the deadline has passed.
However, those players must be traded by Aug. 31 to be eligible to participate in postseason play with the club that acquires them.
Even a player who doesn't clear waivers can be traded after July 31 so long as he is traded to the team that secures the waiver claim. If multiple teams put in a claim on a player, the team with the worst won-loss record among those teams secures rights to that player, but a team within that player's own league gets the claim ahead of a team from the other league regardless of won-loss records.
That means the only way the White Sox will secure rights to Ramirez is if they put in a claim on him, no National League team puts in a claim on him and no American League team with a worse record than the White Sox puts in a claim on him.
The waiver process takes 48 hours to play out. If a player is claimed during those 48 hours, the team for which that player currently plays can then do one of three things:
• Simply let that player go to the team securing the claim, in which case the acquiring team assumes responsibility for that player's contract from that moment. For example, if the White Sox secure a claim on Ramirez and the Dodgers let him go on that claim, the White Sox will owe Ramirez about $4.35 million, the remainder of Ramirez's $20 million salary for 2010.
• Or, the team can negotiate a trade for that player, but only with the team securing rights to that player and only within a 72-hour window after the 48-hour waiver process has passed. Typically, that would mean the player's current team agreeing to pay some of his remaining salary and the acquiring team sending a couple of legitimate minor league prospects back in return.
• Or, the player's current team can simply pull him back from the waiver wire and hold onto him, something that can be done either at the end of the waiver process or after failing to reach agreement on a trade with the team securing rights to the player. In that case, that player must remain with his current team for the rest of the season.
Got a headache yet?
Complicating matters in Ramirez's case is that he has full no-trade rights, meaning he could reject either scenario -- a straight waiver claim or a trade -- if he didn't want to play for the White Sox or whatever team secures rights to him.
However, it might not be that difficult for the White Sox to obtain Ramirez anyway, especially if they have the stomach for the $4.35 million it potentially could cost them. Any team that secures waiver rights to Ramirez runs the risk the Dodgers would simply say, "Take our left fielder ... please." That means the acquiring team is on the hook for all of that money, meaning a team has to really want Ramirez to put in a claim.
That virtually eliminates any possibility of a tactic that is commonly used for much cheaper players whereby a team might put in a claim on a player it doesn't really want, for the purpose of blocking a team higher in the standings from getting that player. For example, if a player makes, say, $1 million for the season, the team putting in the "block" claim is only risking having to pay about $164,000 for the month of September if that team ends up stuck with that player.
Now, do you have a headache?
Oh, for what it's worth, Ramirez was in the lineup Tuesday night, batting third and playing left field against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
Barajas joins the team
Speaking of waiver claims, Rod Barajas, the veteran catcher whom the Dodgers claimed from the New York Mets on Sunday, joined the team and was in the starting lineup, batting eighth, on Tuesday night.
Much to Barajas' chagrin, though, his lifelong hero, Dodgers pitching legend Fernando Valenzuela, won't be around until this weekend's series in Denver. Despite being a member of the Dodgers' Spanish-language broadcast team, Valenzuela doesn't travel to cities outside the National League West.
"He turned us toward baseball," said Barajas, who grew up in Norwalk. "Being of Mexican heritage, when he broke onto the scene, it was chaos. Everybody remembers Fernando-mania. My family wasn't into baseball before that. Being from Mexico, my family was more into soccer. But when Fernando came along, that really turned us toward baseball.
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"I actually got to catch him playing winter ball in 1999 in Hermosillo. It was an incredible feeling. I was really, really nervous, because I didn't want to screw Fernando up. He had been doing it so long by that time. And then I got to be around him at the  World Baseball Classic and get to know him a little bit more."
A 12-year veteran, Barajas, 34, is a .237 lifetime hitter, but he has thrown out 33 percent of would-be basestealers during his career. That figure has been as high as 40 percent with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2003, when he threw out 17 of the 43 runners who tried to steal.
"[Defense] is something I take pride in," he said. "For me, as a catcher, that is the No. 1 priority, working with the pitchers and getting them through a game, and that has always been my focus. I don't consider myself an offensive catcher at all. But I do occasionally go on a long run where I'm able to help out a team with my bat also."
Although Barajas was hitting just .225 for the Mets, he did have 12 homers -- which is 12 more than Brad Ausmus and A.J. Ellis combined -- and 34 RBIs, which is almost three times as many as Ausmus and Ellis had combined (12).
"The fact he has the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark gives us a little bit of a different dimension," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
Torre reiterated Barajas will get the bulk of the starts behind the plate the rest of the year, but he also will share time with Ausmus. Ellis, who was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque to clear a roster spot for Barajas, probably also will get some of the starts after he returns for the September roster expansion.
"I would guess ... Ausmus will get a couple of games a week," Torre said.
Billingsley's start pushed back
Right-hander Chad Billingsley's next scheduled start, which had been Thursday, has been pushed back to Saturday night at Colorado because of lingering soreness in his right calf, which Torre said he has now learned has been bothering Billingsley in his past two or three starts. The problem doesn't affect Billingsley's pitching at all, but it does hinder his ability to run.
Although Torre hadn't previously identified a starter for Saturday with Vicente Padilla on the disabled list, he said rookie Carlos Monasterios will start Thursday's series finale against the Brewers. Hiroki Kuroda will start Wednesday night.
Selig gets a statue
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In an elaborate and well-attended ceremony several hours before the game, the Brewers unveiled a statue of Bud Selig outside Miller Park.
Before becoming commissioner of baseball, Selig was instrumental in bringing Major League Baseball back to the city after the Braves bolted for Atlanta after the 1965 season. Selig and his family owned the Brewers from the time they moved from Seattle in 1970 until selling them to Los Angeles investment banker Mark Attanasio in September 2004.
Torre and his brother, Frank, both of whom played for the Milwaukee Braves, attended the ceremony. Torre later revealed he bought his first car, a 1960 Ford Thunderbird, from a dealership owned by Selig after the '60 season.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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