Every offseason, once the playoffs are over and a new World Series champion has been crowned, teams must decide whether to exercise or decline options for various players. While some decisions are straightforward — think Robinson Cano, Yadier Molina and James Shields — others are complex. In some cases, the team exercises its option with the knowledge that a trade is a distinct possibility. If the team can secure the player’s services for something less than market value, he’ll be valuable as a trade chip even if he’s no longer a fit on his original club's payroll or roster.
Teams exercised a total of 19 player options after the 2011 season and two of those players have since been dealt. Here’s a closer look into the circumstances surrounding the two trades:
- On New Year’s Day the White Sox sent right-hander Jason Frasor and his $3.75MM salary back to Toronto for Myles Jaye and Daniel Webb, a pair of 6’3” right-handers who have yet to reach Double-A. Though Jaye and Webb aren’t considered top prospects, they are better than nothing, which is what GM Kenny Williams would have ended up with if he had declined Frasor’s option.
- Over the weekend, the Red Sox sent shortstop Marco Scutaro to Colorado for Clayton Mortensen. The right-hander posted a 3.86 ERA with 4.6 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 52.7% ground ball rate in 58 1/3 innings for relief for the Rockies in 2011 and may prove useful in Boston. If not, at least the Red Sox avoided the $1.5MM buyout on Scutaro’s $6MM option and moved him without taking on salary. Alex Speier of WEEI.com explains how the deal relates to baseball’s luxury tax and reports that the Rockies were the first team to offer to take on all of Scutaro’s salary this offseason.