PHOENIX -- Buster Olney of ESPN reported earlier today that the Nationals placed Adam Dunn on waivers, a transaction that immediately left a lot of people out there flustered and wondering if that means the big slugger is about to wind up on another team's roster.
Well, let me give a quick response to that: No, he's almost certainly not going to be playing for anyone other than the Nats the rest of this season.
So what exactly happened and what does it all mean? If the Nats did place Dunn on waivers -- and that's not something easily confirmable because waivers are not public knowledge, even to most MLB employees -- it's simply a routine procedural move made with dozens of players every August.
You all know about the July 31 trade deadline. Well, there's also an August 31 trade deadline for players who first pass through waivers. If a player is placed on waivers during this month, every other team in baseball has 72 hours to claim him. At the end of the 72-hour period, the team with the worst record in that player's league to have claimed him gets rewarded the claim. If no team from that league (in this case the NL) claims him, then the worst team from the other league gets the claim. If no team from either league claims him, then that player is free to be traded before August 31.
Now, what happens after a team claims a player? This is the key point. The Nationals have three options: 1) allow the other team to take the player and his salary off their hands for no compensation, 2) work out a trade with the other team, or 3) pull the player back off waivers and keep him for themselves.
The third option is what almost always happens. General managers don't put a guy on waivers because they're trying to get rid of him. They do it just in case the guy clears and thus can be traded. That's how Ronnie Belliard was dealt last year in late-August.
Every August, a boatload of players across the majors get placed on waivers and no one ever finds out about it. In almost every single case, the player get claimed and the original teams pulls him back. That is almost certainly what will happen if Dunn gets claimed. I'm sure Mike Rizzo will ask the claiming team if they're willing to trade away their two best major-league-ready prospects in exchange for Dunn. But since no team was willing to do that three days ago, I sincerely doubt any is willing to do that now.
So how did this news get out there in the first place? Why would someone want to make a big deal out of Adam Dunn showing up on the waiver wire? Perhaps an executive from another team that was trying to acquire Dunn last week but couldn't pull the deal off is now trying to railroad the process and prevent any other team from acquiring Dunn for the stretch run. I have no knowledge that's what actually happened, but it's not implausible to think that was the case.
Either way, the bottom line remains this: Adam Dunn is still a National, Mike Rizzo has no intention of losing him and the likelihood of him playing for another team this season is remote at best.