Jerry Blevins Teaches Us a Lesson in Optional Waivers
The other day Jerry Blevins was designated for assignment but all of the reports said, he was DFA’d but still on the 40-man roster. For many in baseball designated for assignment simply meant he was being cut loose, outrighted, traded, but really it meant if anything he was most certainly being removed from the 40-man roster one way or the other. That is why it was so confusing when we saw for the second time this year that Jerry Blevins had been designated for assignment but remained on the 40-man roster. These two things were incongruent. The press release might as well have read, “Jerry Blevins traded to Atlanta but will be in the A’s bullpen for tomorrow night’s game”.
I decided to write all the A’s beat reporters about it, and got answers that continued to mystify me. They answered the questions and for that I was most appreciative, especially Susan Slusser writing me from vacation on her iPhone (so sweet of her for my stupid question!) but there was something missing. The magical words that would clarify this whole thing.
I turned to Bob Rose, Director of Public Relations for the A’s. He had the magic words. He replied to my, what the heck is going on here e-mail, with this:
“Yeah, it’s a bit confusing. Our baseball people explain it this way: If it has been more than three years since a player’s ML debut, he has to pass through optional waivers each time in order to be optioned. Both times we’ve called Blevins up, it has been on a weekend, and you can’t request waivers over the weekend, thus the waiting period. Never has a player been claimed on optional waivers (which are obviously different from trade waivers and outright waivers).”
This cleared up a lot, but googling “optional waivers” led me to a Baseball Prospectus article that clarified it further. It says,
“Optional major-league waivers are required when optioning a player who is more than three calendar years removed from his first appearance on a major-league roster. This procedure allows a club to send a player to the minor leagues while keeping him on the 40-man roster. Because optional waivers are revocable, players usually clear in this scenario. In the unlikely event a player is claimed, his club may not option him to the minor leagues, and any subsequent waiver request during the same period becomes irrevocable.”
That helps out. Jerry Blevins made his major league debut on September 16th, 2007, I can’t find a resource and it is a moot point, so let’s assume that that was the first time he appeared on the MLB roster (though it likely was just as a September call up in the weeks before that). That was over three years ago which means he would need to be placed on optional waivers – which he was. Clearly, Blevins was not claimed on waivers (I am still trying to think of scenarios when this could be something another team would want to do? Perhaps you want to mess with another team’s ability to change their roster? Seems like a lot of needless effort mind you.) and was able to be optioned. But why the designated for assignment?
That same article explains that it takes 48 hours to clear optional waivers, so with the A’s needing Guillermo Moscoso immediately to play in that game, the designated for assignment (which really is long form for “stall tactic”) allowed the A’s to immediately remove him from the 25-man roster. The interesting twist in the case of Blevins is what Bob Rose wrote me, that you can’t be put on waivers on the weekend (who knew?) which is why twice he was designated for assignment but remained on the 40-man roster, until he cleared waivers and was optioned to Sacramento.
Jerry Blevins, thank you for giving us a lesson in baseball transactions.