One of the greatest mysteries of major league baseball, at least to many fans, is the rule surrounding minor league options.
It’s a topic that comes up every spring as teams’ roster decision often include whether or not a player can be optioned back to the minors, or placed on waivers if the player doesn’t make the Opening Day 25-man roster.
So here’s a breakdown of the option rule, in as the most simple terms I can describe.
Once a player is placed on a team’s 40-man roster, he is given three minor league options. So if a player on the 40-man roster during spring training is sent to the minors, he has been “optioned” to the minors. If the player remains in the minors for at least 20 days, he burns one of his options.
Now the option applies to the entire season, this is why it is often referred to as an “option year.” So if a player on the 40-man roster is optioned to the minors to start the season, then gets recalled to the majors in June, spends a month in the bigs, then gets optioned back to the minors, he does not burn a second option.
A player keeps these “option years” until they accrue five years of big-league service time, then they go away.
So, for example, Joe Panik was called up to the majors during the 2014 season. He has never been optioned to the minors since then. So he still has three options remaining. But he also has 4.1 years of big-league service time, so if he spends this season on the Giants’ 25-man roster, he will no longer be eligible for options by the end of the 2019 season.
Is that clear enough? I hope so.
The problem with options is trying to figure out just where players stand with their options can be really hard to find.
So I’ve done the hard work for you. The following players on the Giants’ 40-man roster, with fewer than five years of big-league service, are out of options, meaning if the Giants don’t include these players on their Opening Day 25-man roster, these players will have to clear waivers before they can be sent to the minors – outfielder Mac Williamson, pitchers Sam Dyson, Chris Stratton, Steven Okert and Trevor Gott and infielder Alen Hanson.
Hanson and Dyson seem locks to make the 25-man roster, but it will be pivotal spring for Williamson, Stratton, Okert and Gott.
The Giants have also signed several veterans to minor-league contracts, like outfielder Cameron Maybin and Gerardo Parra and infielders Donovan Solano and Yangervis Solarte and catchers Rene Rivera and Steven Vogt. Most veterans who sign these minor-league deals have a clause in their contract that allows them to opt out of the contract if they are not given a big-league contract by a set date, usually 10 days before the start of the season.
One other thing, before we get to the Giants with options still left.
The Giants have two players on their 40-man roster who were Rule 5 selections in December – outfielder Drew Ferguson (Astros) and relief pitcher Travis Bergen (Blue Jays). While both players have options left, the Giants can’t send either to the minors for the entire 2019 season. So either the Giants put these players on their 25-man roster to open the season, or send them back to their original franchise (or the two teams can work out a trade, which would then bring the options back into play).
So here are the other players on the Giants’ current 40-man roster who still have minor league options:
- IF Breyvic Valera (1 option left)
- P Pat Venditte (1)
- P Ray Black (1)
- P Jake Barrett (1)
- P Reyes Moronta (2)
- C Aramis Garcia (2)
- IF Ryder Jones (2)
- OF Austin Slater (2)
- P Jose Lopez (2)
- P Tyler Beede (2)
- P Ty Blach (2)
- P Andrew Suarez (3)
- IF/OF Chris Shaw (3)
- IF Abiatal Avelino (3)
- OF Steven Duggar (3)
- 2B Joe Panik (3)
- P Dereck Rodriguez (3)
- P Logan Webb (3)
- P Melvin Adon (3)
- P Sam Coonrod (3)