Although Gregory Polanco was placed on outright waivers, the situation is much more complicated than what seemed to be on the surface at first.
After letting the situation play itself out, it seems that Polanco could still be with the Pirates if not claimed by another team. A few other possibilities could shake out, but this seems to be the most likely.
If Polanco is claimed by another while on outright waivers, the Pirates would be free of the rest of Polanco’s contract, including a potential buyout of the last two years, which will cost nearly $5 million. That seems unlikely.
If Polanco goes unclaimed, he could remain on the team, or the Pirates could designate him for assignment or place him on release waivers, which would remove him from the active and 40-man roster while his future status is determined.
The Pirates could also attempt to outright Polanco to a minor-league affiliate, though the club would require his permission to do so. If he gave his permission, he could play out the rest of the season at a minor-league affiliate or elect to become a free agent and forgo the remainder of his salary.
Here is the full explanation courtesy of Pirates Prospects’ Ethan Hullihen:
Okay, waivers are confusing, so let's try and work this out together:
There are two kinds of waivers, outright assignment waivers and release waivers. From what we know, Polanco was placed on outright waivers.
— Ethan Hullihen (@EthanHullihen) August 23, 2021
With the state of Polanco’s injury issues and lack of consistency at the plate, one would assume he goes unclaimed, and the Pirates and Polanco go about business as usual although, most could see the Pirates cutting ties and paying the termination fee.
With the final two years of Polanco’s contract being club options and at a price tag at $12.5 and $13.5 million, the signs on the wall point to this year being Polanco’s last with the Pirates anyways, and maybe this was the Pirates final respectful act to try and get him on a contender.