Veterans On Minors Deals In Line For $100K Bonus

In recent years, several teams have included player opt-out clauses when signing veterans to minor league contracts.  Generally these contracts allow the player to opt out of his deal or ask for his release on a given date (usually before Opening Day or sometime in May or June) if he is not on a Major League roster by that day.  Some of the veterans on such contracts last season included the likes of Russell Branyan, Miguel Batista, Dave Bush, Eric Chavez and Brett Tomko.

These opt-outs are usually included as a sign of respect for veterans and a gesture towards giving them opportunity to sign elsewhere, rather than possibly spend a season in the minors for a team that has no plans or room for them.  A clause in the new collective bargaining agreement, however, has made such arrangements mandatory for veterans who have accrued a certain amount of playing time, and also gives these players a financial boost for their troubles.

Matthew Eddy of Baseball America outlines the situation for these "Article XX(B) free agents," or players who had a Major League contract expire at the end of the previous season and who have at least six years of Major League service time.  If such a player signs a minor league deal, the signing team must make a decision about his fate by five days before Opening Day.  The team can either put the player on the 25-man roster (thus guaranteeing his minor league deal and in most cases raising its value), release him outright (costing the team nothing) or, if the club chooses to send him down to the minors, the player receives a $100K bonus and an automatic opt-out date of June 1.

The $100K bonus may seem small by the standards of baseball salaries, but keep in mind that most of these minor league deals are worth well under $1MM in guaranteed money.  Eddy quotes one executive who says the bonus could make low-level Article XX(B) free agents "too rich for our blood," since the automatic opt-out clause means the player could just leave and the club will have gotten no real return for that $100K.  Teams are looking for the lowest possible expenditure for these low-cost veterans, if a team is weighing whether to add a player with 6+ years of service time or one with less than six years of service time, that possible $100K outlay could be the tiebreaker. 

Thanks to Eddy for compiling this list of 32 players who could be waived on March 30 (five days before this year's officially-designated Opening Day), or who could receive their $100K bonus and opt-out clause if they're not on their club's Major League roster.

Red Sox: Aaron Cook, Vicente Padilla

Yankees: Russell Branyan

Blue Jays: Omar Vizquel

Indians: Cristian Guzman, Jose Lopez, Dan Wheeler

Angels: Jason Isringhausen

Mariners: Kevin Millwood

Rangers: Brad Hawpe, Conor Jackson

Mets: Miguel Batista

Phillies: Juan Pierre, Joel Pineiro

Nationals: Rick Ankiel, Chad Durbin, Jason Michaels

Cubs: Rodrigo Lopez, Trever Miller

Reds: Jeff Francis, Willie Harris

Astros: Zach Duke, Livan Hernandez

Brewers: Cesar Izturis, Corey Patterson

Pirates: Juan Cruz

Cardinals: Alex Cora, Scott Linebrink

Dodgers: Josh Bard, John Grabow, Jamey Wright

Giants: Ramon Ortiz

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18 Comments on "Veterans On Minors Deals In Line For $100K Bonus"

Here's the answer
3 years 5 months ago

Wouldn’t Bill Hall be included with the Yankees?

3 years 5 months ago

¬†I think Hall doesn’t qualify because he was released by the Astros during the season.

3 years 5 months ago

Instead of having an automatic opt-out clause by June 1, the rules should be changed accordingly:

‘By June 1st, if the player is not promoted to the 25man roster, he/she has 10 days to decide whether or not to opt-out of their contract’.

My reasoning:
Whether or not this clause is exercised, the player gets to decide if he/she wants to stay with their current team.

If the clause is not exercised by June 11th, the player will remain with their team until the end of the season. It’s not a big difference, but at least the team has the chance to hold onto their players for a little while longer.

3 years 5 months ago

curious as to why you included ‘/she’

3 years 5 months ago

Maybe the poster thinks Eri Yoshida will come to the US and be the 1st lady to pitch in the US ūüėČ

Devern Hansack
3 years 5 months ago

This is an absolutely absurd policy. Players who sign onto minor league contracts a) sign voluntarily and b) sign knowing that they may well spend all year in the minors. This is the kind of rule that is really going to hurt small-market clubs as well as the veterans that this policy is supposed to protect.

3 years 5 months ago

how does it hurt small market clubs and how  does it hurts veterans exactly 

3 years 5 months ago

Judging by your other replies to this article you appear to be a troll, but, just this once, I’ll bite. It’s pretty simple, clubs don’t want to spend $100k for minor league back-up depth that may not be there when they need it and since no one wants to spend $100K for back-up depth that may not be there when they need it there will be fewer opportunities for these veterns to sign a minor league deal prior to spring training.

Take Rodrigo Lopez for example, he’s a borderline replacement level player. He has no business being on a major league roster for an entire season but, in a pinch, he can make a few adequate spot starts when his team is in a bind. Under this clause, the Cubs will, if they want Rodrigo to pitch for them this season, have no choice but to either put him on the major league roster (where he can’t be sent to the minors when not needed) or send him to the minors and pay $100k and risk him leaving on June 1st when the Royals need a spot starter. If he leaves the team on June 1st, not only will he not be availiable for the Cubs when they need a spot starter in mid-August they will have wasted $100k.

3 years 5 months ago

judging by your response.. in which you use the cubs as an example.. you don’t really understand the business side of the game and should stop talking.. seriously..

Do you have any comprehension in how much small market teams earn in revenue sharing? Doesn’t sound like, but believe me, they can handle a few hundred grand more if they really need some veteran help.

This deal gives the player some more leverage and a bit of options instead of being signed and left on a minor league roster. its a respect thing. 

I’ll never understand the whole ohh woes¬† me, smallest violin, for the small market teams over incidents this small. The marlins and a few other violators have pocketed revenue money for years. but when a rule changes in favour of the players financially, all of a sudden its “unfair” to small market teams.

Oddly enough, you didn’t reallly answer my question above regarding how this rule hurts small market teams (you used cubs as an example) and you didn’t mention how this would hurt a veteran. so who’s really trolling?

3 years 5 months ago

the lowest payroll in 2011 was $38M. 100k represents about two-tenths of one percent of that payroll

3 years 5 months ago

Are you the baseball player devern hansack?

Devern Hansack
3 years 5 months ago

I’m not. I’m just a huge fan of the guy and the six inning no-hitter he had a while back. The dude had a devastating slider, as well.

3 years 5 months ago

I remember watching him play for Portland he was pretty good back then.

3 years 5 months ago

I fully agree with Devern_Hansack.  This new rule discourages teams from taking a chance on a questionable veteran free agent player.

3 years 5 months ago

 lol wut

3 years 5 months ago

I think it’s very possible that clubs will factor in the $100K if they believe the carrier holds particular value to have available during the season.¬† I suspect there may be ways to incorporate sidestepping this provision in an agreement, but that’s
“above my paygrade.”¬†

Also, I believe Brett Tomko should be on this list this season.

3 years 5 months ago

Doesn’t the season start March 28th in Japan? (Mariners & A’s)

Does that mean Kevin Millwood needs to have a decision by the 23rd?

3 years 5 months ago

People tend to forget that players are also employees of the MLB. It would be nice that in most other employers you get more recognition for loyalty. Money aside, that’s pretty much what’s going on here.