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  • Limited Options Limit Twins Options

    Don't believe the hype. There might be 66 guys in Twins spring training, but they aren't really competing for roster spots. In fact, there may not be a single roster spot to compete for.

    How come? Because of "options." Options are a MLB administrative rule that limits how long a team can keep a player on their 40-man roster but keep them in the minors. Basically, they have three years before they need to commit to bringing that player to the majors. For a little more on it, check out this entry, where I compared it to the amount of time before you move from dating to married.

    If a player doesn't have "options" left, they cannot be sent to the minors without being offered to every other major league team. So a team risks losing that player, and that isn't a risk the Twins are usually anxious to take. Thus, a player without options almost always has the inside track to make it to Opening Day. And when you look over the 25 spots the Twins have available, player without options look like they're going to gobble up most of the open spots. Let's run through them.

    The Twins entered spring training with their lineup and rotation pretty set, which (barring any injuries) takes care of 14 of the 25 spots on the roster
    C - Joe Mauer
    1B - Justin Morneau
    2B - Alexi Casilla
    SS - Jamey Carroll
    3B - Danny Valencia
    DH - Ryan Doumit
    RF - Josh Willingham
    CF - Denard Span
    LF - Ben Revere
    Rotation - Carl Pavano, Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, Nick Blackburn & Jason Marquis

    That leaves 11 spots, which probably includes four guys off the bench and seven guys in the bullpen. Here are heavy favorites for each of them:
    • Drew Butera is likely the backup catcher unless the Twins are really enamored with newly acquired JR Towles.
    • Trevor Plouffe and Luke Hughes are both out of options, so they're almost locks to be on the bench.
    • The fourth spot might be the only open spot, but the obvious option is Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who the Twins will be paying $3M whether he plays in the majors or minors.
    And there are similar roster crunches in the bullpen. Four of the seven spots will likely go to Matt Capps, Glen Perkins, Joel Zumaya and Brian Duensing, all of whom are slotted for late-inning roles. And the other three spots? It turns out there are three relievers without options:
    • Anthony Swarzak is out of options, is right-handed and did a nice job in the swingman role last year. It seems obvious that he would make it.
    • Jeff Gray is a right-handed reliever who has pitched for several team the last couple of years. The Twins picked him up this offseason off of waivers because he was out of options. The Twins want at least one more right-hander in the bullpen, so he looks like a front-runner.
    • Finally, Matt Maloney is a left-hander that the Twins also picked up this offseason because he was also out of options. He has mostly worked as a starter, but so did Perkins before the Twins moved him to the bullpen. And a third left-handed reliever might make sense given that Perkins won't be used situationally.
    Suddenly there are 0 spots left and another 41 guys in camp.

    So much for options.
    This article was originally published in blog: Limited Options Limt Twins Options started by John Bonnes
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      ...add Terry Doyle to the list and suddenly someone will have to be exposed to waivers.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      I wouldn't look at Maloney or Gray as locks. They'll get looks in spring training but it's not like they're quality homegrown prospects that the Twins will be fearful of exposing to waivers.
    1. travistwinstalk's Avatar
      travistwinstalk -
      Maybe I am nieve to think this way, but I believe of the 66 players the best 25 will make the team. I don't think the option issue will have as big an impact as you seem to think geek. I agree with Nick that Maloney and Gray are far from locks they have so many bullpen arms that the only way they make team is if they earn it this spring its not like they are sure things that need to be protected. Terry Doyle is the same thing as if he was as good as some are making it out to be than the Sox wouldnt have left him unprotected. When it comes to Plouffe and Hughes I believe they will make it because they are the best options the Twins have right now for their bench not because they are out of options. Like I said it may make me seem nieve, but I truly believe the Twins will take the 25 guys who they believe will give them the best chance to win when the season starts and options will have nothing to do with it.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I think that there is some room to work at the back of the 40 man roster. I think that Gray and Maloney and Doyle may have an inside track due to their situations (out of options, Rule 5), but at the same time, there are som good arms that could be interchangeable that signed to minor league contracts. If you believe in Jared Burton and he performs in spring and Gray struggles, then you DFA Gray and have Burton take his spot on the 40 man roster and on the 25 man roster.

      I don't necessarily believe that the best 25 players are the ones who should come up. If as an organization, you believe it is in the best long-term interest to keep Lester Oliveros and/or Alex Burnett in AAA for a couple of months, then someone like Gray (who may or may not be lesser, frankly, I don't think any of us Twins fans know for sure yet), then it makes sense to not (potentially) lose a right-handed option like Gray.

      I have a hard time believing Maloney is an option for a big league spot without some injuries. (which, of course, happen)
    1. Fanatic Jack's Avatar
      Fanatic Jack -
      This is the worst bullpen in MLB with their best pitcher Joe Nathan gone. I’m still shocked the Twins front office did not add Wheeler, Coffey, Linebrook, or Wuertz to stabilize an island of misfit toys. Jeff Gray and Matt Maloney are quite frankly a joke and have no business taking up 40-man roster spots. I like the Jason Bulger signing and will be interested to see what he can do. I’m so sick and tired of hearing about how great Jared Burton could be in the bullpen. The guy throws 89 MPH and has had severe shoulder problems the last two seasons. He is BUM!!
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Jack... Burton is a BUM... Zumaya is an injury risk... yet Michael Wuertz is a guarantee to stabilize the bullpen??
    1. Fanatic Jack's Avatar
      Fanatic Jack -
      Seth,
      Michael Wuertz isbetter than most of the Twins bullpen right now and was not signed because ofmoney. He is much better than Burnett,Duensing, and Swarzak and they are locks to make the roster. He is also better than your hero Jared Burton,Terry Doyle, and Jeff Gray. If youhonestly believe Joel Zumaya will stay healthy this season you are not justbeing optimistic but nave. Zumaya willbe hurt before spring training ends you can count on it. If Wuertz is injured than the Twins did theright thing by not signing him but that does not explain passing on Wheeler andCoffey. See Tigers owner Mike Illichdoes not worry about money and that is why his team wins. It’s really shameful the front office letthree of their best players leave, cut payroll by $15 million, and tell thepublic we are trying to win. The frontoffice is like used car salesman and for whatever reason fans just buy it. Sorry the good Lord gave me a brain to thinkwith and I’m just not that stupid. WHATHAPPENED AGAIN LAST SEASON WITH THE BULLPEN YOU SAID WOULD BE JUST FINE AFTERLOSING RAUCH, CRAIN, FUENTES, AND GUERRIER?
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      We don't know if he's better. In fact, we don't know if he's even healthy. It has nothing to do with money because he's not getting a major league contract at this point.

      Isn't the Tigers payroll less this year than last year also?

      I was wrong last year, although if you recall, I did say I would bring back Crain, but I still believe in the philosophy.
    1. darin617's Avatar
      darin617 -
      So this explains everything finally. Now I know why the Twins never made any real move besides Ryan Doumit & Josh Willingham. They were limited because of no openings on the roster. LOL I'm not sure if some of these pitchers that were brought in would make the St. Paul Saints... Way to go Mr Ryan great job once again.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      I'm not huge on Wuertz, but it has been a collossal mistake to not get another semi-reliable right-handed arm to add to the Twins bullpen. They were there, they were cheap and there is almost definitely going to be a need. It might be that the Twins are having some trouble objectively evaluating their in-house options.
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