Fernando Rodney

David Richard/USA Today Sports

Fernando Rodney trade illustrates difficulty of Red Sox improving in August

John Tomase
August 10, 2018 - 11:06 am

The Red Sox need bullpen help, and a pretty good arm just went to one of their postseason competitors, but Dave Dombrowski and Co. had no way to join the Fernando Rodney sweepstakes.

The 41-year-old closer, in the midst of a solid season with the Twins, was traded to the A's on Thursday night, adding another experienced arm to one of baseball's best bullpens.

Rodney is 3-2 with a 3.09 ERA and 25 saves, with 50 strikeouts in 43 2/3 innings. The A's will be his 10th team, with the majority of his 16-year career spent in Detroit.

The Twins had placed Rodney on revocable waivers, and he was claimed by the A's, who then worked out a deal from a position of relative bargaining power -- had Minnesota pulled him back, it could not have traded Rodney for the rest of the month. So it accepted fringe prospect Dakota Chalmers in return.

Had Rodney not been claimed by the Twins, the Red Sox would've been third in line to have their hypothetical claim considered, behind the Yankees and Astros. That's because a player placed on revocable waivers is first made available to every team in his league, in reverse order of record. So though the Red Sox own the best record in baseball, they'd get a shot at any American League player placed on waivers one spot before the worst team in the National League. Any player that goes unclaimed has cleared waivers and can be traded without restriction (unless he has a no-trade clause, 10/5 rights, etc. ...).

It's possible, and probably even likely, that the Yankees or Astros would've blocked Rodney before he reached Boston. But we'll never know. It just highlights the challenges faced by the Red Sox as they try to improve in August. When good players become available, every AL contender has the power to keep them from landing in Boston.