A player may be eligible for a fourth option year if he has been optioned in three seasons but does not yet have five full seasons of professional experience. A full season is defined as being on an active pro roster for at least 90 days in a season. (If a player is put on the disabled list after earning 60 or more days of service in a single season, his time on the DL is counted.) The 90-day requirement means short-season leagues (New-York Penn, Northwest, Pioneer, Appalachian, Gulf Coast, Arizona Rookie, Dominican and Venezuelan Summer Leagues) do not count as full seasons for the purposes of determining eligibility for a fourth option.
Rick Porcello, being added to the 40 man roster straight out of High School, is a candidate for this fourth option. As it stands, Porcello has four option years remaining as per the most recent collective bargaining agreement, meaning he doesn't have to reach the big leagues until opening day 2012.
When trying to option a player on waivers, you have to consider three variables:
- How much value will the player being kept provide over the player being put on waivers?
- Can we afford to lose this player on waivers?
- What is the likelihood that this player will be claimed on waivers?
What better way to find the risk of a player being claimed off waivers than looking at their individual waiver history? Several player who are out of options have been for many years and could be exposed to the waiver wires time and time again.
Believe it or not, Denny Bautista has never been on waivers. The Tigers are his fifth organization, and he has been on a 40 man roster since the time the Orioles purchased his contract after the 2003 season.
Yorman Bazardo: Yorman Bazardo has also never been on waivers. He was designated for assignment last offseason, but the Tigers acquired him before he was placed on waivers.
Tim Byrdak: Byrdak epitomizes the term journeyman. His first stint in the big leagues was from 1998 through 2000 with the Royals. During that time, his three option years were used up. Rather than trying to option him after the 2000 season, Kansas City opted to non-tender Byrdak, making him a free agent. Byrdak never sniffed a 40-man roster again until getting his contract purchased by Baltimore in July of 2005. He stayed on Baltimore's roster until August 2006 when he was outrighted (clearing waivers) to Ottawa.
Tim Byrdak is 1/1 in clearing waivers.
Francisco Cruceta: Another journeyman, this is Francisco Cruceta's fifth organization. Unlike Bautista, though, Cruceta has only been traded once. He first used up his options from 2003 through 2005 with the Indians having been slow to develop into the type of pitcher they wanted. They tried to sneak Cruceta off the 40-man roster in August, but Seattle was there to claim him. It appears as if the Mariners were able to slip him through waivers between August and January, when he received a spring invitation. Brought back onto the 40-man in September, 2006, Cruceta was put through waivers again after the season and claimed by Texas. He would not make the Rangers out of spring training, and cleared waivers before being sent to Oklahoma City for the duration of the season.
Francisco Cruceta is 2/4 in clearing waivers.
Jason Grilli: Another hard-throwing bullpen candidate who has bounced from team to team, Grilli is in his fourth organization. A high first round pick by the Giants, traded to the Marlins as part of the Livan Hernandez deal, there was a time when Grilli was a top notch pitching prospect until injuries derailed his status. After 2002, he successfully cleared waivers while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Drafted by the White Sox in the next season's Rule 5 Draft, Grilli again was put on waivers during the Spring of 2004. Aside from not even being claimed, the Marlins rejected the White Sox' mandatory offer of the Rule 5 draftee. The final time Jason Grilli was put through waivers was after the 2004 season when Chicago designated him for assignment and ultimately released him.
Jason Grilli is 3/3 in clearing waivers.
Bobby Seay: Seay ran out of options after the 2003 season, and failed to make the 2004 (Devil) Rays. He then succesfully cleared waivers during spring training. Seay was next placed on waivers as a Colorado Rockie during the 2005 season, again clearing before becoming a free agent after the season. Finally, Seay cleared waivers as a member of the 2006 Tigers.
Bobby Seay is 3/3 in clearing waivers.
Mike Hessman: Hessman has never been on irrevocable waivers. As a player who had made his debut four years before being optioned last year, he did have to clear revocable waivers, but I'm not going to count that in this discussion. It appears as if revocable waivers are very easy to clear.
Brandon Inge: A Tiger his whole life, and on the 40 man roster uninterrupted since the 2000-2001 off-season, Brandon Inge has no waiver experience.
Ramon Santiago: Santiago has only had to clear waivers once, after the 2004 season when the Mariners were making room on the 40-man roster. Twice, though, did he have to clear revocable waivers: in 2006 and 2007 with the Tigers.
Ramon Santiago is 1/1 in clearing waivers.
Freddy Guzman: Speedy outfielder Freddy Guzman is loved by all that seem to believe that Dave Roberts' 2004 ALCS steal embodies all that is right with small ball and justifies giving players who can do nothing but run a roster spot. For Guzman, this would be his first time on waivers, as he is just running out of options.
Marcus Thames: Once among the many highly touted Yankees prospects before being traded to Texas. The Rangers were able to succesfully get Marcus Thames through waivers after the 2003 season. He promptly declared free agency and signed on with the Tigers.
Marcus Thames is 1/1 in clearing waivers.
Timo Perez: I'm not quite sure where Timo Perez stands. He cleared waivers earlier in the offseason, and it is still the same waiver period. Does that mean he has to clear again? Is he even on the 40 man roster? I had thought so yesterday until his name showed up among the spring invites. For Perez, this was his second time on waivers having also been outrighted in 2006 with the Cardinals.
Timo Perez is 2/2 in clearing waivers, but may not have to clear this Spring.
There you have it. Francisco Cruceta is the only player on the roster with a history of being claimed off waivers. Over the course of the next few posts, I'll have to take a look at several potential variables that go into a player's waiver risk. Some that are going to be tested include:
- Prospect Status: Could a player being mentioned among Baseball America's top prospects play a role in their likelihood of being claimed? On top of that, a 2007 top prospect will certainly be claimed before a 2000 top prospect.
- Time of waiver: Roster crunches occur at different times of the year. Certainly, around November and December when players are being protected from the Rule 5 draft, it's probably much easier to clear waivers than mid-season where teams have more room on their reserve roster.
- Recent performance: One would think a player coming off of a fine season would have a harder time making it through waivers.
- Injury status