The suspense continues to build as Tuesday’s deadline looms for making trades without passing players through waivers, but it won’t be the end of the story if Adam Jones is still in an Orioles uniform Wednesday.
The waiver requirement can be a significant impediment to making a deal in August, but might not be for the Orioles in the case of Jones unless there is a dramatic shift in the American League standings over the next couple of weeks.
The team that seems like the best fit for Jones is the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians, who have the worst record — by a significant margin — of any of the AL teams with a realistic chance of making the playoffs.
Waiver priority is awarded in reverse order of record, first through the league in which the player is currently playing and then through the other league. In this case, Jones would likely be available to the Indians with little risk of an opposing claim blocking the deal just to keep him out of Cleveland.
Of course, Jones can upset any deal himself by exercising his right to veto a trade because of his status as a 10-and-5 player — that is, a player with 10 years of major league service time and five years with the same team. But if the Orioles want to rent him to Cleveland for a medium prospect or two, they probably will be able to do that in August if Jones wants a chance to play in the World Series this year.
Even if that were not the case, Jones still is due about $6 million in guaranteed salary, which also would limit the number of teams that would be willing to risk a blocking claim, because the claiming team would have to assume all of Jones’ remaining salary.
The waiver system becomes more of a problem for the National League teams that might be interested in Jones after July 31, for obvious reasons. Several AL contenders might make a claim to keep an NL team from improving itself for the postseason.
Obviously, the only way for the Orioles to have total control of the situation is to make a deal between now and 4 p.m. Tuesday, which still is possible.
Teams have until Aug. 31 to acquire players and have them eligible to appear on postseason rosters.