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In August 2012, roughly several weeks after the trade deadline, the Red Sox and the Dodgers made a trade in which the Red Sox sent players, worth over $250 million in remaining salary, to the Dodgers.

It has been widely understood that July 31st is the trade deadline for the MLB each season. How could a trade take place after the trade deadline? Were there special circumstances that allowed this trade to go through?

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July 31st is the "non-waiver deadline." This is widely understood as the "trade deadline" because trades after this date are rare and more difficult to make.(1)

Up to August 31st, the "waiver deadline," trades still can go through. However, players must be put on waivers and clear it before a trade is successfully made.(1)

As wax eagle notes, teams may continue making trades after August 31st. However, players who are acquired after August 31st are ineligible for postseason play.

In the Red Sox-Dodgers trade, the players involved were placed on waivers and cleared it.

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That August 31st deadline is not a hard cap, just the last day for playoff rosters, teams are free to continue trading players who have cleared waivers (or who have been claimed on waivers). The caveat being that a player who changes teams after August 31 is inelligible for the playoffs so it's mostly non playoff teams dealing. –  wax eagle Nov 21 '12 at 15:12

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