How Often Are Vesting Options Triggered?

Vesting options often appeal to both teams and players. Teams obtain assurances that they won't be overpaying for unproductive players and players get the chance to earn more by staying on the field.  There are always a handful of players with these clauses each season, but how often to do they vest?  Here, we'll take a look at the vesting options from the past three seasons and crunch the numbers to see what percentage of them have clicked.

2011

  • Brian Fuentes, Angels: Needed 55 games finished in 2010 for $9MM option to vest. He completed just 35 for the Angels and Twins.
  • Billy Wagner, Braves: Wagner's $6.5MM option vested as he easily surpassed 50 games finished (64).  However, the guaranteed money wasn't enough to talk to the veteran out of retirement.
  • Trever Miller, Cardinals: Miller reached 45 appearances, securing his $2MM option for the next season.  It would have reverted to a club option if he spent time on the DL with a left arm or shoulder injury, but he stayed healthy for the remainder of the year.
  • Matt Cain, Giants: Cain had more than the required 182 1/3 innings or 27 starts (223 1/3, 33) for his  $6.25MM option to vest, but the Giants instead guaranteed his 2011 salary at $7MM as part of his three-year extension.
  • Kerry Wood, Indians: Wood got a late start in 2010 season thanks to a back injury and a mid-season trade to the Yankees. The trade meant that he wouldn't get to close anymore, putting him well shy of the 55 games he had to finish to activate his $11MM option.
  • Alex Cora, Mets: Needed 80 games for his $2MM option to vest, but he played in just 66 games for the Mets and Rangers.
  • Darren Oliver, Rangers: $3.25MM option vested, as he surpassed the required 59 appearances (64).
  • Ramon Hernandez, Reds: $3.25MM option would have vested with 120 games played but he totaled just 97.
  • Magglio Ordonez, Tigers: He was on pace to easily hit 135 starts (or 540 plate appearances) before an ankle fracture in July cost him a guaranteed $15MM in 2011. 

2012

  • Bobby Abreu, Angels: Got his $9MM option by getting the required 433 plate appearances (finished with 585). 
  • Adam Wainwright, Cardinals: His second place finish in the 2010 Cy Young voting was step one of the vesting process, but the options for 2012 ($9MM) and 2013 ($12MM) options did not vest as he finished the season on the disabled list after having Tommy John surgery.
  • Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: $16MM option did not vest since he was not traded or named MVP of either the regular season or League Championship Series.
  • Rafael Furcal, Dodgers: Had just 369 total plate appearances, needed 600 for his $12MM option to vest.
  • Jon Garland, Dodgers: Recorded 54 innings on the mound, but needed 190 for his $8MM option to vest.
  • Francisco Rodriguez, Mets: Rodriguez agreed to waive his vesting option in exchange for additional compensation following the trade that sent him to the Brewers.  He would have been guaranteed a $17.5MM salary in 2012 had he finished 55 games and been declared healthy by doctors.
  • Koji Uehara, Orioles: $4MM option vested thanks to his 65 appearances (needed 55), despite coming shy of 25 games finished, which also would have triggered it. 
  • Arthur Rhodes, Rangers: $4MM option did not vest.  He needed 62 appearances but only totaled 51 between the Rangers and Cardinals.
  • Joakim Soria, Royals: Needed 55 appearances for his $6MM option to vest and racked up 60.
  • Dan Wheeler, Red Sox: His option would have vested at $3MM if he pitched in 65 games and increased to $3.25MM with 70 games, but he fell short of both totals with 47 appearances.

(A quick mention here for Mark Buehrle, who would have had an extra year at $15MM tacked onto his deal if he was traded at some point during the 2011 season.  Of course, that didn't happen.)

2013

  • Jason Bartlett, Padres: Only had 98 plate appearances on the year, needed 432 for his $5.5MM option to kick in.
  • Alex Gonzalez, Brewers: $4MM option would have vested with 525 plate appearances, but had just 89 thanks to a torn ACL.
  • Chipper Jones, Braves: $9MM+ option would have vested with 123 games while the future Hall of Famer only played in 112.  It didn't matter much anyway as Jones retired following the 2012 season.
  • Kevin Gregg, Orioles: Needed 50 games finished for his $6MM option to vest, had just 13.
  • Brett Myers, Astros: Myers' $10MM option would have vested with 45 games finished.  He also could have triggered the option based on an unknown points system.  Neither one of these things happened, leading the White Sox to decline his option.

Out of the 24 total vesting options across the last three seasons, only seven were triggered — and that's including Cain and Wagner*, who met the necessary requirements for their options but did not accept them for different reasons.  In total, just over 29% of the vesting options over the last three years have been triggered.

* By the same token, we'll put Rodriguez along with the options that did not vest, even though it was tossed out upon his trade to Milwaukee.  He did not reach the 55 games finished that would have been required to guarantee his $17.5MM salary for 2012.

This year, we'll be keeping an eye on vesting options for several notable players and some are more realistic than others.  Lance Berkman hopes to stay healthy and trigger his $13MM option for 2014 by hitting 550 plate appearances on the year with the Rangers.  The Giants will be on the hook for $18MM if Barry Zito reaches 200 innings in 2013.  To trigger his $20MM option for 2014 with the Phillies, Roy Halladay needs to rack up 259 innings this year.  It's a tall order, but Halladay did manage to record 250 2/3 innings just three years ago.


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