The pecking order in waiver claims goes like this: If a National League player is placed on waivers, the NL team with the worst record has priority, followed by the team with the second-worst record, and etc. If the NL player passes through his league without being claimed, he is then subject to claim by an American League team, with the pecking order going worst record to best record.
That means that so long as the Yankees are in second place, they can theoretically block the Red Sox from having a shot at landing any player that might interest Boston — particularly pitchers.
If the Twins fall out of the race — and Minnesota is free-falling — and were open to the idea of dealing J.C. Romero, they almost certainly would have no chance at rekindling conversations with Boston. You would expect that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman — who is historically very aggressive in making waiver claims — would enter a claim on Romero.
If no team with a worse record than the Yankees made a claim on Romero, and the Yankees actually were awarded the claim, the Twins would have two options at that point. They could make a trade with the Yankees, or they could withdraw Romero from waivers, and not be permitted to deal Romero the rest of the season.
Eddie Guardado? The Red Sox would have no shot.
A.J. Burnett? If he didn’t get claimed by a National League team, the Yankees would never let his waiver claim fall to the Red Sox.
Billy Wagner? No chance.
There might be some decent hitters who get past the Yankees — perhaps Aubrey Huff of the Devil Rays, who is in line to make $7 million next year.
Going forward, the Red Sox know that they almost certainly will have to make do with the roster of pitchers they have in the organization (and it’s working out pretty well for Boston, which gained another game on the Yankees in the standings Tuesday night). There will not be any outside help to be had.