It’s August 10th 2009 and rumors are beginning to circulate that an AL team has placed a waiver claim on Blue Jays outfielder Alex Rios. In this day and age, putting a player on waivers is not unusual. There is simply no downside for the team, as the player can be pulled back if a trade cannot be agreed upon, or dumped on a claiming team. But Rios is a special case.

Rios is just 28 years old and coming off three straight All-Star caliber seasons. He’s a five tool player with unique power/speed abilitiy. But he’s also struggling mightily, and has a large, controversial contract hanging over his head.Without a doubt, the Blue Jays were not expecting their All-Star center fielder to be claimed.

But the “unclaimable” Rios is in fact claimed by Kenny Williams of the Chicago White Sox. Now the Jays are faced with a difficult decision. Do they give away a player of Rios’ talent, or do they hang onto what is beginning to look like a bad contract?

The Blue Jays decide that Alex Rios isn’t worth the money, and literally give him – and his massive contract – to the White Sox. Rios hits just .199 down the stretch. Fast-forward a year to August 10th 2010. Rios is hitting .298 with 17 homers and 24 steals, playing a good defensive center field. The 29 year old is proving well worth the contract and was acquire for… nothing.

The Rios examples illustrates that despite a massive contract and poor performance, a player with some talent and a solid reputation could help a contending team. While most sruggling, expensive ex-stars will not be claimed, the possibly gives teams an incentive to pass these players through waivers, just in case someone is interested. What players will most likely be placed on waivers, but almost certainly not be claimed? Let’s take a look.

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