During spring training we examined 14 players—seven position players and seven pitchers—who entered the season with no minor league options remaining. Making these players unique, each had reached the no-options juncture of his career this year, having played Triple-A ball in ’09 while (gleefully) using his final option year.
So how did our fateful 14 fare when it came time for big league clubs to hand down their verdicts on Opening Day? Who made the cut and who didn’t?
As it turns out, not one of the 14 players lost his place on a 40-man roster, tenuous as that grasp may be in some cases. Certainly, the Reds gave no serious thought to parting ways with Homer Bailey, but others, such as the Rangers' Joaquin Arias, made the cut thanks to extenuating circumstances. He's one of two out-of-options, light-hitting middle infielders to crack the Rangers' roster by virtue of an injury to Ian Kinsler. Andres Blanco is the other. Which one will they keep when Kinsler returns?
Texas' other out-of-options spotlight player, righthander Luis Mendoza, spent all spring with the Rangers before his trade to the Royals (for cash considerations) on April 2, just three days before Opening Day. Mendoza made Kansas City's roster as a reliever.
Two others begin the year on the DL: Astros righthander Alberto Arias and Royals third baseman Josh Fields. Houston and Kansas City can delay making a decision on their futures until after they come off the DL and complete rehab assignments.
The Athletics opted to keep both of their out-of-options players, Jake Fox and Eric Patterson, which resulted in some tough decisions elsewhere on the margins of the roster. Oakland chose to designate Jack Cust for assignment and option backup catcher Landon Powell to Triple-A. Fox will now serve as the backup to catcher Kurt Suzuki as well as provide a righty-hitting option at DH.
Though it's foolish to divine a player's future value from spring training stats, here are the basic performance records that either illuminated or confused the issue for the imperiled clubs. It's worth noting that all these players received the benefit of full playing time. The seven batters average 59 at-bats apiece (the spring training leader tallied 89). The starting pitchers, which excludes Arias and Rafael Perez, worked an average of 18 innings apiece, compared with 30 for the spring leader.
|2010 SPRING TRAINING RESULTS
|Arias, Joaquin||TEX||62||.258||.309||.306||0||4/8||Backup 2B, SS|
|Casilla, Alexi||MIN||52||.135||.224||.192||0||5/11||Backup 2B|
|Fields, Josh||KC||51||.157||.204||.294||1||3/15||Begins on 15-day DL|
|Fox, Jake||OAK||53||.151||.224||.321||3||4/12||Part-time DH, backup C|
|Maier, Mitch||KC||59||.475||.530||.814||3||7/6||Reserve OF|
|Patterson, Eric||OAK||67||.284||.367||.403||0||9/11||Reserve OF, 2B|
|Wood, Brandon||LAA||72||.278||.361||.431||1||8/15||Starting 3B|
|Arias, Alberto||HOU||2||9.00||3||1||3||1||Begins on 15-day DL|
|Bailey, Homer||CIN||17.7||5.09||17||8||5||2||Mid-rotation starter|
|Gallagher, Sean||SD||16.7||5.40||18||8||4||2||Middle reliever|
|Mendoza, Luis||KC||15||4.20||18||6||4||1||Middle reliever|
|Parra, Manny||MIL||19.7||5.03||22||13||6||1||Back-rotation starter|
|Perez, Rafael||CLE||11.3||1.59||12||10||2||0||Set-up reliever|
|Talbot, Mitch||CLE||17||3.71||17||10||4||1||Back-rotation starter|
The Royals faced perhaps more options-related decisions than any other club. As noted, they can wait a bit on Fields. But they found room on their 25-man active roster for Maier, Mendoza and six other players who were out of options. Alphabetically, they were: Alberto Callaspo, Roman Colon, Kyle Davies, Luke Hochevar, Brayan Pena and Robinson Tejeda. Only Anthony Lerew, whom the club designated for assignment, failed to make the cut.
And though Maier may have been the best hitter in the Cactus League this March (1.344 OPS, more walks than strikeouts), his case was fully fortified when Brian Anderson decided to try his hand at pitching. He'll stay behind in extended spring training while attempting to convert from a center fielder into a righthanded reliever. Anderson had signed a big league deal with Kansas City in December.
Regarding Maier, Royals manager Trey Hillman told the Kansas City Star: “Honestly, no reservation saying this: I know I’ve never seen this much development at this level in one year for a position player.”
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