If you aren’t quite sure how options work, now you do.
The most pertinent part to this here thing is, “Once all of the options have been used up on a player, a player is considered “out of options” and a player must be placed on and clear waivers prior to being sent down to the minor leagues.” MLBTradeRumors is reporting that a good handful of interesting players are out of options this spring. Most of the good ones will likely stick with their current teams (ex: Amir Garrett with the Reds), but there will invariably be a few that are squeezed off their current 40-man rosters and be made available on waivers. If you remember correctly, this is exactly how the Reds ended up with their All-Star second baseman, Scooter Gennett, back before the 2017 season. There is real value to be had here, so let’s see what’s (potentially) out there.
(To clarify, I’m skimming through all of the players who are currently out of options and doing my damnedest to project who might fall victim to the waiver wire. I’m not exactly the smartest guy - or even the fifth-smartest guy - but this is all based on my best guess. So disclaimer.)
Cam Bedrosian (P) and Noe Ramirez (P) - LA Angels of A
These two fellas have more than a few similarities. They both get more than a few strikeouts, they surrender more than a few walks, and they throw more than a few sliders. The Angels’ bullpen isn’t exactly a cavalcade of legends, so my initial assumption is that both of these fellas are safe for now. But you never know.
Bedrosian is a former first-round pick who has seen his luster fade a bit of late. He had a dazzling 2016, throwing 40 innings with a 2.13 FIP. But he has been more-or-less an average reliever since then. He is arb-eligible for the second time this season and making nearly $2 million. That isn’t guaranteed though, so if he has a rough spring the Angels might see right to cut him and save the scratch.
Ramirez is not yet arb-eligible, but he has been dropped on waivers once before (the Angels claimed him from the Red Sox in August of 2017). They rode him pretty hard last season, as he threw more than 80 innings and made many multi-inning appearances. But while he gets strikeouts at better than a 25% rate, he also gives up a ton of home runs.
Aledmys Diaz (IF) - Houston Astros
To be fair, I really don’t think the Astros are going to bail on this guy. They have used Marwin Gonzalez as a super-utility player for a number of years now, but he signed as a free agent with the Twins this winter. Their plan this spring is to mold Diaz into that role. He isn’t the same hitter (or defender, for that matter) as Marwin is, but it looks like they see him as a good deal more valuable than face.
So why am I bringing him up? Because I want to see the Reds use this kind of player for their bench. They seem eager to career 13 pitchers most of the season, so somebody like this could be really useful. And sometimes waivers is exactly the place to find one.
Liam Hendriks (P) and Frankie Montas (P) - Oakland Athletics
Hendriks is 30 and has a decent track record, but his best days are a good ways behind him at this point. He had an incredible 2015 with the Blue Jays and two very good years with the A’s in ‘16 and ‘17, but last year he was really bad for three months before getting DFA’d. He cleaned up a bit down in AAA before coming back to the A’s in August, and he even opened for them the Wild Card Game.
My guess is that he is pretty safe with the A’s, but he has been DFA’d before and they are particularly cost-conscious. He is due more than $2 million this season.
Montas’ story is nothing new. He has a nuclear helicopter for a right arm but has had trouble staying healthy. He has dealt with a number of injuries in his young career (he’ll be 26 next week) but nothing catastrophic or arm-related. He has only thrown 112 innings in the bigs, mostly as a starter.
If the A’s do choose to move on, my guess is that he would not clear waivers. But he could potentially be had for a bargain, and guys like him are always worth a second look. His fastball would play in the bullpen, which might also help keep him off the DL. Which is probably what the A’s will do with him.
Also of note, Montas was involved in that three-team trade that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox and brought Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler to the Reds. So that’s neat.
Hanser Alberto (IF) - San Francisco Giants
This poor fella has been DFA’d four times this winter, once already by the Giants. He has a little bit of Peraza in him though, if you ask me. He is a competent glove man all around the infield (and he has even played a bit in the outfield) and has formidable bat-to-ball skills. In 1000 PAs at the AAA level, he has carried a .309 batting average. What he doesn’t do is walk, strikeout, or hit for much power. He might never hit enough to play every day, but you could probably find a worse utility guy if you looked hard enough.
Danny Salazar (P) - Cleveland Indians
To be honest, I do not think it is even close to likely that the Indians will designate him for assignment. But it is possible. More likely though is that they see about trading him (but still not likely at all). He is set to make $4.5 million this season and he hasn’t thrown a pitch in a real game since Game 4 of the ALDS in 2017. He had shoulder surgery last year and never made it to the mound. He will begin the season on the disabled list, whether with the Indians or not.
If the Indians are of a mind to save some money (which, they usually are) and they don’t think Salazar is likely to contribute much this season, they could be enticed to get rid of him. He has a ton of talent and even made the All-Star Team in 2016, but he has made 30 starts only once in his career (in 2015). $4.5 million is kinda difficult to justify when you are on a thin budget and you aren’t sure how much he is even going to pitch.
Jonathan Villar (IF) - Baltimore Orioles
Everything changed, then changed again. Just a few years ago, Villar looked like a star-on-the-make. He led the league in steals (62!!) in 2016 and earned the starting 2B job, pushing Scooter Gennett out the door. Not even two years later he was spit out the bottom of the roster and traded to the pathetic Orioles, who wouldn’t even make the Hanseatic League if baseball did the relegation thing.
Again, I don’t think it is all that likely that this guy will be available. The Orioles are awful (they won 47 (dear Jesus) games last season) and there is a robust argument to be made that Villar is their best position player. But he is making $5 million this season and they are going to stink with or without him, so I could see them cutting the budget to the bone and going all straightedge with this rebuild.
Curt Casali (C), Amir Garrett (P), Robert Stephenson (P), and Matt Wisler (P) - Cincinnati Reds
Obviously, the Reds aren’t going to DFA one of their own and then be interested in picking them up. But to wrap this up, I figured it was worth it to turn the camera back on itself.
I am a boldly crimson Curt Casali fan. My heart has a hole in it the shape of Ryan Hanigan (miss you, bae) and Casali is a perfectly suitable rebound piece. He came over to the Reds from the Rays last season as a straight cash transaction after they sent Devin Mesoraco to the Mets. He turned some heads in the river city, slashing .293/.355/.450 in 156 PAs while carrying the bag for Tucker Barnhart. He is also best buds with Sonny Gray and Derek Johnson from their days together at Vanderbilt, so his job is about as safe as they come.
Garrett is entering his third season with the Reds and I’d say he is pretty safe, too. He was a reliable bullpen arm last season, his first as a reliever. He walks a few more hitters than I would like and gives up a few too many home runs, but he also gets zorks and zorks of strikeouts. He has all the potential to become an elite reliever so I sincerely doubt the Reds won’t give him a fair amount of slack if things get a bit dicey.
Stephenson and Wisler, however, are very much on the bubble. Both were among the most highly-rated pitchers in the minor leagues, but those days were a long time ago. They have both had laudable success in AAA but have yet to translate it to the majors. Stephenson is dealing with some shoulder issues right now, so he might start the season on the DL and delay this decision. Wisler has thrown very well so far this spring, so he might be able to earn himself a bullpen spot. But if I had any money I would bet that at least one of these guys is not with the Reds in April.
Again, all this is leaning quite heavily on my personal knowledge of the status of 40-man rosters around the entire Major Leagues, so take that as far as it goes. The Reds are in an interesting position with their own 40-man and it looks just as likely that they will be active on this front as not. It never hurts to keep your eyes open though, as you never know when you’ll get another Scooter Gennett dropped into your lap.
Keep on baseballing, dudes and dudettes.