Tuesday, March 1, 2016

First Game Analysis & Let's Talk About Who Has Options

First, I uploaded some quick analysis on the first game of spring training at atlantabraves.about.com. Highlights included Freddie Freeman's wrist, Hector Olivera's left field adventures, the rising status of Mauricio Cabrera and Rio Ruiz, and the future may be now (for a day) if both Dansby Swanson and Ozhaino Albies start tomorrow up the middle as expected.

Moving on, a particular tweet caught my attention.
Now, first off, Bowman almost certainly misspoke here. "Only player in Braves camp who is out of options" is ridiculous and I'm sure it's not what Bowman meant. Clearly, several players - specifically most of the veterans who are in camp on minor league deals - are out of options. What Bowman probably meant to say is that Jose Ramirez is the only player on the 40-man roster who is part of a competition AND out of options.

Jose Ramirez - Rob Carr/Getty
But is he?

EDIT.......He was correct on the Ramirez front and the rest of my response was wrong. I am leaving it up so that you may mock me. Special thanks to Braves Options Guy on Twitter for providing me some clarification on some particulars that I missed. I should have investigated my claims further. I will be looking deeper into my Options list to see if I'm wrong on anymore players. You SHOULD absolutely follow Braves Options Guy on Twitter by visiting @BravesOptions. Sorry for any confusion that my post created. Again, feel free to mock me.

Maybe. Probably not, but maybe.

You may have noticed that I keep a fairly updated list of who has options above. You can compare my list with RosterResource.com and only one name is different if you remove, like I do, the non-roster invitees. Either way, we both arrive at a number higher than one. Both RosterResource.com and me agree that Ian Krol and Chris Withrow are out of options while I also add Manny Banuelos to my list. We, including Bowman, all concur on Ramirez. I do my research largely through looking at transaction lists (specifically searching for the word "(Team) option (Player) to (Wherever)"). With that in mind, let me go over how I arrive at my decision for each of the four players I had.

Manny Banuelos
1st Option: 3/11/13, Yanks Option Banuelos
2nd Option: 3/16/14, Yanks Option Banuelos
3rd Option: 3/27/15, Braves Option Banuelos

Ian Krol
1st: 8/21/13, Nats Option Krol
2nd: 7/31/14, Tigers Option Krol
3rd: 4/23/15, Tigers Option Krol

Jose Ramirez
1st: 3/11/13, Yanks Option Ramirez
2nd: 3/9/14, Yanks Option Ramirez
3rd: 3/21/15, Yanks Option Ramirez

Chris Withrow
1st: 3/15/12, Dodgers Option Withrow
2nd: 3/20/13, Dodgers Option Withrow
3rd: 5/21/14: Dodgers Option Withrow

So, theoretically, all four players are out of options. However...there is the mythical 4th option year for players who do not have at least five "full seasons" of professional experience. Here's a primer on this ultra-confusing addition and options in general...
"For the purpose of determining eligibility for a 4th minor league option, a player accrues a "full season" when he spends at least 90 days on the Active List of an MLB and/or minor league club or clubs in a given season, or (in seasons prior to 2012) spends at least 60 days but less than 90 days on the Active List of an MLB and/or minor league club or clubs followed by a Disabled List assignment where the combined time spent on the Active List and Disabled List equals at least 90 days or (beginning with the 2012 season) spends at least 30 days but less than 90 days on the Active List of an MLB and/or minor league club or clubs followed by a Disabled List assignment where the combined time spent on the Active List and Disabled List equals at least 90 days."
So, does any of the four I listed fit this description? First, let's look at Banuelos. He's been hurt. A lot. He missed all of 2013 and the little 90 day rule takes out his 2008 season, giving him six total years. 2012 could be a non-full season, though it appears to apply because he spent over a month on the Active Roster before going down for the rest of the year. Even without it, 2015 gave him five total full seasons and again, it's likely six. That eliminates any claim to a fourth option year. (this section edited for clarity/corrections)

As for the rest, Krol is much easier. He has spent the last six years largely healthy and above rookie ball (thus logging full seasons). It would be shocking to me to think Krol had an option left. We all agree on Ramirez and his case is simple as he has been above rookie ball since 2010 and healthy. He's out of options. In Withrow's case, he logged enough time above rookie ball since the 2009 season and I would say even though he missed half of 2014 with an injury, his options are gone as well.

Now...maybe I'm misreading this and Bowman's right, but it would appear to me that all four pitchers are out of options. Banuelos is the only one I'm on the fence over, but I'm almost 100% sure the other three are out of options.


  1. I'm greater than 90% confident that Banuelos, Withrow, & Krol all have at least one option remaining. I get most of my option research from this link (http://www.fangraphs.com/library/principles/contract-details/player-options/) and the links included within.

    I'm going to ignore the 4th option thing for now and focus on how many options each player has actually used.

    Added to 40-man on 11/20/12
    2013: season was lost to injury, that option doesn't count
    1st Option: 3/16/14, Yankees Option Banuelos
    2nd Option: 3/27/15, Braves Option Banuelos

    2013: Added to Nationals 40-man 6/14/13. Optioned on 8/21/13, recalled 11 days later on 9/1/13 so that option doesn't count. You have to spend 20 days in the minors for the option to count.
    1st Option: 7/31/14, Tigers Option Krol
    2nd Option: 4/23/15, Tigers Option Krol

    Added to Dodgers 40-man on 11/18/2011
    1st Option: 3/15/12, Dodgers Option Withrow
    2nd Option: 3/20/13, Dodgers Option Withrow
    2014: The Dodgers transaction page indicates he was optioned to AAA on 5/21/14 but also placed on the 15-day DL the SAME day. Then he was transferred to the 60-day DL on 6/6/14. I refuse to believe they would actually option him, then DL him. To me, this option doesn't count & perhaps the transaction pages are erroneous.
    2015: Since his 2015 season was lost to injury, there was no option used.

    To me, Banuelos, Krol, & Withrow have each only used 2 options.

    Now for the always fun 4th option. This only applies to Banuelos. The reasons you described in the article cover Withrow & Krol - they have too many full, healthy seasons to qualify for the 4th option. Here's why I think Banuelos MIGHT actually qualify for the 4th option.

    2008: signed by NYY, spent season in GCL - NOT a full season
    2009: spent season in Single-A & High-A - FIRST full season
    2010: had appendectomy during ST
    6/21-6/30 - rehab assignment to GCL
    6/30-8/23 - High-A
    8/23-9/18 - AA
    10/8-11/16 - AFL
    Active from 6/30-9/18 (80 days). That's under the 90-day cut-off so I say this was NOT a full season
    2011: spent season in AA & AAA - SECOND full season
    2012: only active from 4/5-4/12 and 5/2-5/18 (23 days total). Spend rest of season on AAA DL (check International League transaction page http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?t=l_trn&lid=117&sid=l117). NOT a full season
    2013: completely lost to injury - NOT a full season
    2014: THIRD full season (first option year)
    2015: FOURTH full season (second option year)
    2016: will be his FIFTH full season (and third option year, if used)

    So, since his third option will be used before he has 5 "full seasons", there is an argument to be made that he's eligible for a fourth option year.

    Conclusion: Banuelos, Krol, & Withrow all have one option year remaining. Banuelos MIGHT have two.

    I don't blog but you can follow me on Twitter (@RVABraves06) which I believe you already do.


    1. First, thanks for your response. Options are one of those things that are so difficult to get a handle on because so few sources provide a detailed version of it. It's why I started my page and probably why you started to focus on options through your twitter account. As for my research, I use Baseball Prospectus's Transaction Browser to help me.

      You are absolutely right on all accounts as far as options go. I was a little hasty in my effort to build an options page that I lost track of some of the finer particulars in the rulebook.

      I am going to need to go over each player on my options page and further investigate them into detail to make sure I'm not missing anything. Thanks for your information.

  2. Thanks for the shout out in the article. You'll be happy to know that your conclusions for players on the 40-man match mine exactly. Nice work