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The new, patient, Eddie Rosario

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:40 AM
An interesting tidbit. We all know that walks aren't entirely indicative of plate discipline, but Rosario's new approach is startling whe...
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Game-Thread 8/14: Kansas City Royals (8-11) @ Minnesota T...

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 10:30 PM
Catch-Up How did you all enjoy your day off? I'm sure the Twins did. Buxton is playing arguably the best all around baseball of his caree...
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Where are they now? Ex-Twins in 2020

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 10:30 PM
I said in the 2019 thread that I would start this forum thread...    Let's start populating it. How many former Twins are on ro...
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2020 Game Thread Intros

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 10:30 PM
Yes, I believe there will be baseball! Further, the Twins would be a popular pick this year to advance to the playoffs and maybe, just ma...
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Miguel Sano's Moonshot

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 01:46 PM
I finally figured out where Miguel Sano's home run from last night landed.     Moon bomba!!!
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Finer Points: Options, part one

Over the next six weeks, I’m going to take a dive into the details of how rosters are put together and managed. There is an abundance of verbiage used on a regular basis around the baseball world that many people don’t understand or misunderstand. Hopefully this series will help clarify things. What’s more likely, though, is that it’s going to get a lot murkier before it starts to clear up.

First up, we’re going to tackle OPTIONS.
Image courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
We’ve all heard it. “Coach, are you making any transactions?” “Yeah, we’re going to option Vasquez to Rochester and recall Tyler Duffey.”

So what does that mean?

Well, this transaction the Twins made recently is the simplest form of making a transaction involving options. Both Andrew Vasquez and Tyler Duffey are on the Twins 40-man roster, so “optioning” Vasquez means that while he’s still on the 40-man roster, he’s no longer on the 25-man roster. It also means the he is not out of options. (More on that later.)

The word “recall” means that Duffey, who was on optional assignment is now on the active roster.
Easy peasy, right?

Well, yeah… sorta. But what about all the other transactions that involve options? Or transactions that don’t happen because of a lack of options?

Over the coming weeks we’ll look at how the 40-man is composed and the rules behind it, but with this piece we’re only going to focus on the players on the 40-man roster. All teams are allowed to carry 40 players with major league contracts, but only 25 can be on the “active” roster. The rest must be on the injured list or, if playing in the minor leagues, on an optional assignment. That means that teams are allowed to carry 15 players on major league contracts, who are not in the major leagues.

Most players get on the 40-man roster the same way: The team is forced to add them in November prior to the Rule 5 Draft in December. (Again, we’ll talk more about what that means later in this series.) These players, usually guys who are playing A- or AA-ball, don’t make it long in spring training before being “optioned” to minor league camp.

This past November, the Twins added LaMonte Wade, Nick Gordon and Luis Arraez to their 40-man roster. All three were optioned at the same time - in the second round of roster cuts - and were the first position players sent out.

Upon being “optioned” to minor league camp, all three players are on their first year of “optional assignment.” And now, because they have all spent at least 20 days on “optional assignment,” it’s official: They have used an option. That’s it.
There will be times through the course of a season where a player is optioned and recalled repeatedly. If his stints - short or long - on optional assignment add up to 20 days, that counts as an option. Their 2019 season counts as a season they spent on optional assignment.

If a player spends a majority of a season in the major leagues, is optioned on the first of July and recalled on July 17th, while spending no more time in the minor leagues after that, that option would not count because it was less than 20 days. Additionally, he would receive major league service time for the entire season.

I've said “first option” or “first year of optional assignment,” so that must mean that they get more than one, right? Exactly. The widespread belief is that players get three options. And that is true 99% of the time. (Sadly, very few people - including some in baseball - understand why and when players are granted that rare fourth option. We’ll cover that in depth next week.)

After a player has spent three years on optional assignment, it becomes much more difficult to send him to the minor leagues. We'll discuss this more in-depth soon, but Tyler Austin is a prime example of a player that is out of options... which, in turn, limited the Twins options when they needed his roster spot.

And as simple as it's sounded so far, there’s more. While teams can place players on optional assignment for parts or all of three seasons, there are actual limits in place that prevent that, in some cases.

Injured players cannot be optioned. Otherwise, it would have made sense to option Gabriel Moya to the minor leagues during spring training. He will likely be activated and immediately optioned when healthy (This happened earlier today.) Miguel Sano is a similar case. If it would have been allowed, optioning him and stopping his service clock would be a way to manipulate service time. So it’s simply not allowed.

Players who have five or more years of experience cannot be optioned without consent. This came into play in 2012 with Jason Marquis. Marquis signed a major-league contract but missed a significant amount of spring training due to a family emergency. Unable to get into game shape - and with an option remaining - he accepted a minor league assignment to get ready for the season despite having the ability to reject it. (He struggled upon his re-arrival to the big leagues and was released before the end of May.)

(Jeremy’s note: At one point, there was a such a thing called “optional assignment waivers.” Players that had amassed a certain amount of service time had to clear this set of waivers to be sent on optional assignment to the minor leagues. It was understood among teams that anyone placed on this set of waivers had given consent, so other teams would not claim them. This forced teams to DFA players - this happened to Andrew Albers once - before optioning them. This was eliminated before the 2017 season.)

If you have more questions about options, please ask. Until then, put the following into your baseball vernacular. (If you have leave a question about an upcoming topic, I’ll weave the answer into that particular story.)

GLOSSARY

“Option” is the act of sending a player on the 40-man roster to the minor leagues.
“Recall” is the act of bringing a 40-man player from the minor league to the major leagues.
“Calling up” is the act of adding a non-40-man player to the 25-man roster.
“Purchasing/selecting (the contract)” is the act of adding a non-40-man player to the 40-man roster… and can also be used when adding to the 25-man roster.

“Optional assignment” is a yearly thing. You could be optioned/recalled an unlimited number of times each year.

Once you’re optioned, you cannot be recalled for 10 days (unless you’re replacing someone on the injured list).

You have to spend 20 days on optional assignment for it to count. If you spend less, the option does not count and you receive service time for the days you were “on option.”

STATUS
(Let's take a closer look at the players on the 40-man roster with less than five years of service time.)

OUT OF OPTIONS
INF Ehire Adrianza
1B C.J. Cron
OF Max Kepler
P Matt Magill
P Trevor May
P Adalberto Mejia
P Blake Parker
SS Jorge Polanco

LAST OPTION (cannot be optioned after this season)
P Chase DeJong (technically, DeJong has not been on optional assignment for 20 days yet this season)
P Tyler Duffey
SS Ronald Torreyes

OTHERS
2B Luis Arraez (used: 1)
UTIL Willians Astudillo (used: 1)
P Jose Berrios (used: 2)
OF Byron Buxton (used: 2)
OF Jake Cave (used: 1 -- 2019 could be his second, if he's not recalled within 20 days)
C Mitch Garver (used: 1)
SS Nick Gordon (used: 1)
P Stephen Gonsalves (used: 2)
P Ryne Harper (used: 0)
P Trevor Hildenberger (used: 0)
P Zack Littell (used: 2)
P Gabriel Moya (used: 1 -- 2019 could be his second, if he's not recalled within 20 days)
P Fernando Romero (used: 3 -- should qualify for fourth, if needed*)
P Taylor Rogers (used: 1)
SUPERMAN Eddie Rosario (used: 2)
3B Miguel Sano (used: 2)
P Kohl Stewart (used: 1)
P Lewis Thorpe (used: 2)
P Andrew Vasquez (used: 1)
OF LaMonte Wade (used: 1)

*We will do this in more depth next week, but Romero is on his third optional assignment. What is noteworthy is that Romero blew out his elbow in 2014 and didn't pitch again until 2016, which was his first season with the 90 days necessary to account for a "professional season." That means that 2019 is only his fourth season and he would be eligible for the elusive fourth option in 2020.

You're welcome.

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13 Comments

This is great. Get fangraphs to buy it from you.
    • glunn, scottz, PDX Twin and 4 others like this

Love it! Are you thinking about throwing in a quiz we can take at the end? That would be fun.

    • scottz, WLFINN, bighat and 1 other like this
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Jeremy Nygaard
Apr 25 2019 06:27 AM

 

Love it! Are you thinking about throwing in a quiz we can take at the end? That would be fun.

 

I wasn't... but that would be fun!

    • scottz and MN_ExPat like this
In glad TD picked up Jeremy's option!
    • Mike Sixel, Kevin, WLFINN and 4 others like this
Awesome write up Jeremy. Appreciate the time and effort on a topic that causes a fair bit of confusion for most of us. :)

When you say "20 days on an optional assignment", I assume this is 20 TOTAL days during the course of the season, not 20 consecutive days.If not, there would be an obvious way to manipulate when an option is actually used.You could have a player on an optional assignment in the minor leagues for 18 or 19 days, recall them to the majors for the requisite amount of time, and then send them back to the minors for another 18 or 19 days. 

Whos on 1st??- Good article T.Y.

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Channing1964
Apr 25 2019 04:29 PM
Even though i personally understand it, that was an awesome post that will clear things up for any fan who takes time to read it.
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stringer bell
Apr 25 2019 04:44 PM

Thanks. Very informative. It does show that having options remaining is very important. Probably why the Yankees were willing to part with Tyler Austin, for example. Not having options remaining forces the issue for players such as Magill and Adrianza. Meanwhile, Cave will probably be up and down several times on this year's option.

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Jeremy Nygaard
Apr 26 2019 07:56 AM

 

When you say "20 days on an optional assignment", I assume this is 20 TOTAL days during the course of the season, not 20 consecutive days.If not, there would be an obvious way to manipulate when an option is actually used.You could have a player on an optional assignment in the minor leagues for 18 or 19 days, recall them to the majors for the requisite amount of time, and then send them back to the minors for another 18 or 19 days. 

 

This is correct. 20 days total.

 

When you say "20 days on an optional assignment", I assume this is 20 TOTAL days during the course of the season, not 20 consecutive days.If not, there would be an obvious way to manipulate when an option is actually used.You could have a player on an optional assignment in the minor leagues for 18 or 19 days, recall them to the majors for the requisite amount of time, and then send them back to the minors for another 18 or 19 days. 

 

This is correct, it is 20 days total.

 

The one catch is that it's strictly a count of days on "optional assignment". Any other assignment to the minor leagues (meaning, for players who aren't on the 40-man roster yet) doesn't count toward the 20 day threshold.

 

The Twins did that with Tyler Duffey in 2015. He was in the minor leagues most of the year, but didn't use an option year because he was only on "optional assignment" for a brief period in August after he was added to the 40-man roster, called up to MLB, and then optioned to AAA. His time in the minor leagues prior to August that year was not on "optional assignment" and thus those days didn't count toward the 20.

 

Perhaps we could see something similar this year with guys like Graterol, Alcala, or Jax...

    • The Mask of Zoilo and minman1982 like this

We keep saying De Jong has options.So why do the Twins keep outrighting him and removing him from the roster?

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Jeremy Nygaard
Apr 26 2019 12:01 PM

 

We keep saying De Jong has options.So why do the Twins keep outrighting him and removing him from the roster? 

 

Roster maintenance. DeJong wouldn't have been called up if it weren't for being within the first 10 days of the season. Now they're just taking him off because they can. (He cleared waivers and they keep him in the organization.)

 

My understanding is that waivers don't run on the weekend, so if they wanted/needed to use his 40-man spot in the next couple of days, he'd have to be DFA'd, which would prevent him from pitching while in DFA limbo.

 

Now, they have a little bit more roster flexibility since he's already off.

 

Also, he will retain this option as his assignment was less than 20 days.