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Game Thread: Twins v Tigers, 9/16 @ 7:10pm CT

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:28 AM
Game-time forecast: Clear. Winds blowing in from right field at 5-10 m.p.h. Temperature around 60.   TIGERS: SP, Porcello...
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MUST READ TWEET: Span Disses Twins?

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:41 PM
Aaron Gleeman posted the following on Twitteron Tuesday night:     During the Nationals' division-winning celebration Denard S...
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Article: The Real Brian Dozier?

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:40 PM
It's a statistic that you've probably heard recently: Prior to the All-Star break, Twins second baseman Brian Dozier piled up 18 home run...
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Article: What Is Going On With Glen?

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:18 PM
For most of 2014 it was business as usual for Minnesota Twins closer Glen Perkins.His numbers have been very similar to his previous two...
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When can we panic about Glen Perkins?

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:11 PM
A blown save or two in a lost season, OK. This is now concerning...
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Position Battle: The Bullpen

Attached Image: Diamond_Scott_Sitting_US_720.jpg The Twins need to make some decisions about the back end of their bullpen. Those decisions might not be based on merit. To understand why, we need to talk about “options.” My favorite way to talk about technical baseball transactions is to compare them to my marriage, even if it means blatantly plagiarizing my own story. So let’s talk about…

By the fourth year together, you better be ready for a commitment. At that point, you’re out of options.
At 27 years old, this was explained to me subtly by my girlfriend ….

OK, subtly might be a little generous. She is not known for her subtlety. To be fair, she is from Philly. And I’m a Minnesota guy. So subtlety was neither going to find the seed nor the fertile ground to thrive. And that works for us. Let’s try that sentence again.

At 27 years old, this was explained to me demonstratively by my girlfriend in our fourth year together. During the first year we barely saw each other, both of us clumsily falling into a long-distance relationship. The second year I moved to Philly and we navigated those life-changing rapids. The third year we drifted lazily down life’s river.

And then the fourth year came and all hell broke loose. Because I was out of options. A commitment needed to be made, or she was going to be gone. I had a decision to make.

Baseball options work the same way. A team has three seasons to make up its mind. If it doesn’t commit by the fourth, the player is going to be gone. The Twins have a decision to make.

Once a player is put on the 40-man roster (dating), the ballclub can only keep him off of the 25-man roster (marriage) for three seasons. It doesn’t matter how many times that person is added to or taken off of the 25-man roster during that season – the whole season is an option. So a player can be sent up and down multiple times during the season and it’s still one option. Or they can spend the entire season in the minors, and that’s also one option. The critical point is that they spend some time during that season not on the 25-man roster.

Options are something that major league teams must consider as they break spring training. A player who doesn’t make the roster and is out of options can be claimed by another team which has space on its 25-man roster. She finds somebody else who is a little more willing to make a commitment.

This year, options could mean bad news for some worthy relievers.

The Bullpen

Of the seven pitchers that will be in the bullpen, three guys are perfectly safe due to their performance and veteran status: closer Glen Perkins, right-handed reliever Jared Burton and Anthony Swarzak. At least one more, right-hander reliever Casey Fien is also a lock, though it’s worth at least noting that he has an option left.

You’ll notice that we haven’t mentioned any left-handed setup men yet, and the two heavy favorites would be Brian Duensing (who also benefits from being guaranteed $2 million this year) and Caleb Thielbar. But it’s also worth mentioning that both of them have options years left too.

And in an optionless world, the seventh would likely be right-hander Michael Tonkin, who sports a 95 mph fastball, struck out more than batter per inning in AAA and impressed in a few short stints with the team last year. Or else it might be right-hander Ryan Pressly, who posted a 3.87 ERA over 76.2 innings in the bullpen last year. Or maybe one of the other 13 able-bodied arms they have in camp.

But it’s not an optionless world, and there are three other pitchers to whom the Twins will either need to make a commitment or lose to another team. Barring any injuries in spring training, Sam Deduno Scott Diamond and Vance Worley will all be competing for the 5th (and last) starting pitching spot, and none of them have options.

So Tonkin, Pressly and Thielbar might not control their own fates. Any could be stashed in the minors while right-handers Deduno or Worley play long reliever or southpaw Scott Diamond takes the role of second left-hander. Not necessarily on merit, mind you, but because the Twins need to make a commitment or lose them.

I also had to make a commitment or lose someone. So I went on a summer trip, had an experience that deserves its own column (where it can be used as an overreaching baseball analogy), and married that girl four years to the day after we met. Next month, The Voice of Reason™ and I will have been married twenty years.

(And I’ve never wanted another option.)


If you’re ever looking for which players have options and which don’t, check out the bottom table in the Minnesota Twins Roster & Payroll page, which Jeremy Nygaard has generously created for Twins Daily.

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