With the regular season nearing its end, we have some clarity on several vesting clauses around the game. Let’s take a look at where things stand …
- Chase Utley, Dodgers: There’s no chance that Utley’s $15MM option — the first of three in succession — will vest. (He’d need 110 plate appearances over the final two weeks of the season to reach 500.) Instead, Utley will become subject to a team option — the value of which floats between $5MM and $11MM based upon days spent on the DL. The precise details have yet to be reported, so it’s not yet clear how much it would cost Los Angeles to control the veteran. Neither is it known whether the team would have interest; Utley has a mediocre .200/.296/.347 slash over 108 plate appearances with the Dodgers.
- Jonathan Papelbon, Nationals: This one was taken care of as part of the deal that sent Papelbon to D.C. from the Phillies. Papelbon helped facilitate the swap by agreeing to take $11MM to throw next year for the Nats. He was already likely to reach the requirements for his option to vest at $13MM, but that agreement greased the wheels on a move he desperately wanted and removed any doubt as to his payday.
- David Ortiz, Red Sox: Big Papi has blown well past the 425 plate appearances he needed for his 2016 option to vest, though he’ll also need to pass an offseason physical. The question now is the value of the option. It has already reached $15MM, but would go higher if he makes his 600th trip to the dish. In that case, it will go to $16MM (or, if it’s more than that, the value of the qualifying offer). Ortiz has earned it, with another huge season and successful run at 500 career home runs.
- Joaquin Benoit, Padres: Benoit needed to finish 55 games for to his $8MM option to vest. That can’t happen, so it’ll turn into a team option. It’s a fair sum for a reliever, but Benoit continues to put up strong results at 38 years of age.
- Marlon Byrd, Giants: The 38-year-old sits at 502 plate appearances. He needs 48 more the rest of the way to reach 550 total, which, in combination with those accumulated last year, would be sufficient for his $8MM option to vest for 2016. With 13 games left, it’s still possible that he could reach the needed total, but that’ll depend heavily on playing time — and San Francisco may well not wish to be on the hook for that kind of cash.
- Santiago Casilla, Giants: As MLBTR reported, Casilla needs 55 games finished for his $7.5MM option to vest for 2016. The situation is somewhat similar to Byrd’s. With 49 finished games in the bank so far, it’s still possible — but, perhaps, unlikely — for Casilla to reach the necessary tally.
- Nori Aoki, Giants: Due to injuries, the outfielder is stalled well shy of the 550 plate appearances he needed to turn a $5.5MM club option into one of the mutual variety. That could still be an appealing price tag for a player who performed well when healthy.
- Jonny Gomes, Royals: Gomes needs 325 plate appearances for a $3MM club option for 2016 to become guaranteed. He only has 246, and hasn’t been used much in Kansas City, so that’s not happening.
We already know that Cliff Lee won’t achieve the innings totals required for his 2016 option to vest, as the Phillies southpaw hasn’t pitched all season and is attempting to recover from a torn left flexor tendon without undergoing surgery. Brandon League also hasn’t pitched this season and has been released by the Dodgers, so he won’t reach the games-finished total required to allow his 2016 player option to vest.