Atlanta Braves centerfielder Andruw Jones has been claimed on waivers, meaning the team has until 1 pm tomorrow to work out a trade for him or to pull back the waiver. While seemingly unthinkable given his star status with the team, the former is a strong possibility because of the vagaries of the MLB labor contract.
With Andruw Jones only days away from gaining trade veto power, the All-Star center fielder was claimed on waivers by an unnamed team, leaving the Braves until 1 p.m. ET Saturday to decide whether to take their last opportunity to deal Jones unfettered.
That Jones was placed on waivers is unremarkable; he was one of hundreds of players, including many stars, who were placed on waivers earlier this week. What makes Jones’ situation interesting is that on Aug. 15, he will gain 10-and-5 rights — 10 years in the big leagues, five with the same team — to block any proposed trade.
Multiple teams placed claims on Jones, according to major-league sources. But on Thursday afternoon, one team was awarded a claim on Jones. Now the Braves have two choices — either work out a trade with the team who placed the claim by Saturday or pull Jones back from waivers. If they pull him back, they cannot trade him again for the rest of this season.
Jones’ value in the trade market is relatively high right now, because he is a highly productive player locked up for only one more year — at $13.5 million — at a time when players like Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee might command $70 million packages on the free-agent market.
As a Braves fan, I’d certainly hate to lose Andruw, who has been a star from the instant he was called up toward the end of the 1996 season. As a 19-year-old rookie, he hit two home runs in a World Series game against the Yankees that sure looked like they’d give the team a second championship.
Unfortunately, the Braves simply haven’t been the same franchise since Ted Turner sold them to TimeWarner. Operating on a relatively small budget, they simply don’t have the ability to keep their best players from signing with insane overspenders like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets. The decision about whether to trade Jones will therefore likely have more to do with the Braves’ confidence in their ability to re-sign him to an affordable long term deal than in the SABRmetrics. That’s a shame, but it’s the modern game. And the Braves took advantage of being on the other end of that situation while they could.
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