ESPN Dallas reporter Calvin Watkins has officially fanned the flames. For members of the "fire Jon Daniels" camp, a report by Watkins that Yu Darvish, Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo, and Elvis Andrus have cleared waivers has somehow provided "proof" that Daniels is an idiot and should be fired. Don't believe me?
Among the most egregious things written in the article by Watkins was the following:
I'll just come right out and say it: None of these players are going anywhere. Even on the off chance that one is traded away, they certainly won't be dealt for prospects.
The issue here, I think, is that Calvin Watkins during his career with ESPN has been almost exclusively a football reporter, covering the Cowboys just down the road from the Rangers in Arlington. To that end, he's been very good in that role, only covering baseball, if I remember correctly, while the NFL was locked out during the summer of 2011. Due to Richard Durrett's unfortunate passing back in June, Watkins has been forced into a sort of double duty role, picking up some of the baseball duties for ESPN Dallas.
I don't know if Calvin simply doesn't know this from not covering baseball on a regular basis, or if he was trying to get some site hits for ESPN -- I'm not betting on the latter -- but in no way does the waivers process convey anything "interesting". At this time of year, on an annual basis, most teams run their star players through the waivers process.
The reason they run the players through waivers is because they know with almost-absolute certainty that the players will clear waivers, meaning no team put in a waiver claim. Why is that important? A player that clears waivers is eligible to be traded to any team, excluding any kind of contractual exclusions such as a limited no-trade clause.
So, how do teams know that players won't be claimed? In the case of high-contract players, it would involved significant risk on the part of the claiming team.
Let's throw out a hypothetical scenario. Let's say the Angels place Josh Hamilton on waivers -- a scenario that I'll be surprised if it hasn't actually taken place -- and wait the 48 business hours to see if a team claims him. A team does, and the Angels have 3 options. They can work out a trade with the claiming team, pull Hamilton back off of waivers, or simply let the claiming team assume his contract.
That last possibility is exactly why high-priced players simply don't get claimed. Even if the claiming team believed in Hamilton's ability to turn things around, it's not likely they would want to assuming the rest of this season's salary plus the remaining $89 million that would be owed to him through the 2017 season.
So, with that said, the waiver process is truly a cat-and-mouse ordeal, and we never hear of all players involved in the process due to what is supposed to be a confidential process. Nonetheless, we have a scenario here, much like with Alex Rios several weeks ago, in which it is reported that numerous players have cleared waivers. With Rios, it was a bit more interesting since the Rangers had been rumored to actually have shopped Rios prior to the non-waiver deadline on July 31.
The fact that Darvish, Beltre, Choo, and Andrus have cleared waivers is absolutely much ado about nothing. It simply means that no team claimed them and the Rangers are free to attempt to work a deal with any ball club, should they so desire.
Now, if we hear in the next few days that the Rangers are in negotiations with another club to trade one of those four players, that might be newsworthy. With that said, if you're in the camp that wants to see any such move happen, don't hold your breath. For a player like Darvish to be traded, it would have be a perfect storm of something like an unhappy, but productive star on some other ball club also clearing waivers and enticing the Rangers enough to the point that there might actually be some excess value to be obtained. Other than that, it's not happening. The same goes for the other three guys.
I'm left to believe that Watkins simply hasn't been around baseball enough to know that what seems like an interesting process isn't actually all that interesting, at least 99 percent of the time. Other than simply not understanding that this is a routine process, there's literally no good reason for him to fuel an uproar among an already-divided fan base during a poor season for the Major League club. If you're among those that found yourself ready to jump the Texas front office, just relax. Jon Daniels isn't trying to blow up the Texas Rangers, and he's certainly not looking to do anything stupid. As a matter of fact, by running his stars through waivers, Daniels is actually leaving open the possibility that in the unlikely event that some other organization wants to make a crazy deal that makes sense for Texas, he's able to do so.
Other than that awfully unlikely possibility, there's nothing to see here. Don't jump off the cliff, and pull your hand off of the trigger. Jon Daniels is doing exactly what some in recent weeks have accused him of not doing: his job.