A Johnny Damon trade is one step closer after Damon was claimed off waivers Monday. The Johnny Damon trade can only be with the team that claimed him off waivers though, limiting the options that the Detroit Tigers have at this time. The most likely scenario though, is that another team really wants Damon, and made the claim in order to get a trade into the works. There is of course the possibility that a team claimed Damon in order to block him from going to another franchise, but it would be risky, as Detroit could just allow another team to take on his salary without trading for him.
The way that waivers work in Major League Baseball is a bit complicated, but it does extend the trade deadline by allowing teams to still work on trades after July 31. Waiver order is determined by a reverse standings look, with the team with the worst record having the top spot in the waiver order, all the way to the best team, which has the last spot on the waiver wire. Each team then has a chance to put in a claim on Johnny Damon (or any other player), or to pass if they aren’t interested. The first team that puts in a claim “wins” the claim on Damon, and it is at that point that Detroit makes a decision.
Detroit can allow a team to just claim Damon outright, sending him to the new destination, and forcing the new team to pay out his full contract. The other option is that they enter into negotiations with the claim winner, and try to pull off a trade that would send Damon out for prospects, monetary value, or other players. Damon still has a lot of value, so it’s more likely that the Tigers will try and trade Damon to the waiver winner, rather than just lose him for nothing in return. That is where it gets interesting, because the waiver winner isn’t made public right away. According to Ken Rosenthal though, a team did indeed claim Damon on Monday.
Damon could still offer a lot of value to a team, and only comes with the remainder of his $8 million salary in 2010. Any team that needs an outfielder could find value with Damon at the top of the lineup, and he is a player that has a lot of postseason experience to offer. This is why it is hard to predict which team claimed Damon, because it could range from the Boston Red Sox all the way to the New York Yankees. Rumors of a Johnny Damon trade could pop up very soon, and this claim could result in a deal getting put in place in a matter of days.