The state of next year’s free agent class will be impacted by whether or not players with vesting options in their contracts achieve the necessary playing time to trigger those conditional options. As we near the end of the season, here’s a rundown of these players and their progress toward triggering their options …
- Nick Punto, Athletics: Punto has a $2.75MM club option that will automatically vest if he spends fewer than 30 days on the disabled list, assistant GM David Forst told reporters at the time of the signing. Though Forst did add that there are other ways for Punto’s option to vest, the health route is no longer available. Punto was only activated yesterday — ten days into the September active roster expansion — after going on the DL on August 3rd. If the option doesn’t vest, the A’s have the choice of picking him up at $2.75MM or buying him out for $250K.
- Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Weeks has an $11.5MM option that won’t be vesting, as he would have needed to total 600 PA in 2014 or 1,200 PA in 2013-14 and finish the season healthy. He has just 255 PAs on the season, so he’ll fall well shy of that mark. Weeks will also fall shy of reaching 400 PAs, which would have entitled him to a $1MM buyout of his option.
- Jimmy Rollins, Phillies: Rollins’ option vested earlier this year when he reached 1,100 plate appearances over 2013-14. (He has also made 600 trips to bat in 2014, an independent basis for triggering the provision.) That clause, however, also required that he not finish the year on the disabled list, and Rollins left yesterday’s game with a hamstring injury. Word is that Rollins should be able to return, but with just three weeks left even a minor setback could well end his season. Nevertheless, Philadelphia would need to go out of its way to place him on the DL at this point, with active rosters expanded. And, in any event, the option would still vest if a mutually agreed-upon doctor deemed Rollins ready to start the 2015 season.
- Dan Haren, Dodgers: Haren needs 180 innings to trigger a $10MM player option for the 2015 season. Heading into his scheduled outing this evening, he has already notched 162 frames. Haren should be in line for at least three more starts (including tonight’s) before the end of the month, and maybe another depending upon how the club approaches the last few games of the year. Having averaged 5.79 innings per start on the year, it will be incumbent on Haren to pitch his way to the option — especially in the midst of a playoff race and backed by a well-stocked bullpen.
- Mike Adams, Phillies: Adams’ $6MM club option for 2015 would have vested with 60 innings pitched in 2014, but he’s obviously not going to get there with just 17 2/3 innings in the tank. Adams has thrown just 42 2/3 innings in his season-and-a-half with the Phils, and it seems highly unlikely that the team will pick him up at $6MM given his injury troubles. He should, however, be an attractive buy-low candidate given his general success when on the field.
- Rafael Soriano, Nationals: Soriano’s $14MM club option vests with 120 games finished over 2013-14. While that always seemed a longshot, any realistic hope was snuffed out when Soriano lost his closing gig to Drew Storen, the man he replaced when he signed on with Washington. Whether or not Soriano makes it back into the 9th inning role over the next few weeks, he now sits at 104 games finished over the last two seasons, making it all but impossible for him to trigger the vesting provision. With the Nationals all but certain to decline their club option on Soriano, he should make for an interesting free agent to watch.
- Kyuji Fujikawa, Cubs: The Cubs hoped that Fujikawa, one of the best relievers in Japanese history, would help to fortify their bullpen when they signed him to a two-year, $9.5MM contract in the 2012-13 offseason. Instead, both player and team received a hefty dose of bad luck when Fujikawa needed Tommy John surgery after just 12 innings last season. He has a vesting option based on games finished, but the 33-year-old has made it back for only 10 1/3 innings in 2014 and surely won’t be crossing that (unreported) threshold.
- Sean Burnett, Angels: Burnett’s $4.5MM club option vests if he appears in a total of 110 games between 2013-14, but like Fujikawa, he’s been plagued by injury and has no chance of that happening. Burnett has appeared in just 16 games total over the past two seasons and underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year. The Halos will certainly be paying the $500K buyout on his club option.
- Scott Downs, White Sox: Downs had a $4MM vesting option that would have vested with 55 appearances, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported in June (via Twitter). Though he appeared to be headed in that direction earlier in the year, the White Sox cut bait with Downs and his then-6.08 ERA. He owns a 3.55 mark over 12 2/3 innings with the Royals — who signed him to a separate, minor-league deal — and has now thrown in 53 games, but the vesting clause is now a moot point.
Will be very happy to see Soriano leave at the end of the year…He has caused more heartburn thst a pepperoni pizza….
Man I don’t know about the Dodgers’ bullpen being “well stocked”. I hope you’re right, but half the guys they bring in (Wilson, Wright, League, etc.) give me heartburn.
I mean volume, not necessarily quality. (Expanded rosters.)
The Rollins situation is intriguing to me. Hamstrings almost always are worse than first thought. Teams often don’t utilize the DL the same way with expanded rosters, I understand that. Still if Rollins is unable to be of use to the Roster for the rest of the season why should the Phillies not place him on the DL? I know that their would be the potential for backlash from potential future free agents and the Players Association would at least make noise over Rollins going on the DL. Still it makes me uncomfortable that the Phillies need to feel obliged to not put him on the DL when potentially he is of no use to game action.
I’m not exactly sure how that would shake out, but it would probably generate a lot of interest, attention, and controversy.
With all the bad publicity around the Phillies, combined with Rollins productive year (3.5 fWAR) and his long tenure with the team as a core player the Phillies are kind of stuck with keeping him. That may be the best course for them anyway (trade bait at the deadline next year?). Still it’s interesting.
Yeah, I think they would (and should) otherwise pick up his $8MM club option — who else is going to play short anyway? It’s really a $3MM question.
Thank you for the article by the way. I was not aware of that part of his contract. I always look for your Posts on here. Youz always be learnin me something! :p
My pleasure, glad it was informative. Credit goes to Steve Adams for the original vesting clause post this year — I just updated it based on how things have played out.
While I generally agree with this article the Scott Downs vesting clause is most certainly no longer a “moot” point, my guess is Mr. Todd (and many writers) needs to look up the definition of ‘moot” but whether the option will vest is no longer up for debate
“Moot in British English means arguable, doubtful, or open to debate. Americans often use it to mean hypothetical or academic, i.e. of no practical significance.”
– The Economist Style Guide, Profile Books, 2005
When a word is used a certain way for a long time, it can gain new meaning. That, after all, is how words are formed in the first place. I am an American discussing an American sport in America. The question whether the clause will vest — and discussion of it — is now of mere hypothetical interest.
Ironically as an American I had no idea there was another use of the word other than how we use it. To me it has always been “just for the purpose of argumentation.” So I learned something new either way.
Just be glad you didn’t do the other thing many Americans do and call it “mute” — I would have led the pitchfork brigade myself.
I’d have gladly fallen on that pitchfork!
Melvin Mendoza, Jr.
It seems like teams usually do the ethical thing when it comes to situations similar to Rollins’ in this case. For example last year the Twins didn’t bench Mike Pelfrey to prevent him from reaching an innings requirement to get a substantial bonus, even though it was at the end of the season and they were well out of contention. For a player who has done as much as Rollins has for the Phillies, I hope they do right by him here.
Glad to see Soriano won’t be back in DC next year. Unless he shows any improvement over the next three weeks, he is an expensive candidate to be left off the postseason roster.
It’s going to be interesting to see what they do with the pen for the playoffs. I think they’ll have to give Soriano every opportunity to regain his confidence over the next few weeks — the guy isn’t Craig Kimbrel, obviously, but he’s still an effective big league reliever on the whole. (Not that he has to or should have another shot at the 9th.)
Then you have the question of which lefties and what to do with the displaced starter(s) … good problems to have, mostly, but very tough calls to be made.
An issue with Soriano is how inconsistent he has preformed over his career in non-save situations. So if he does lose the 9th inning job, how will he react to being sent out for the 7th?
But yes, only good problems for the Nats at this point of the season when it comes to their pitching staff. For my money, I’d rather have Aaron Barrett out there than Soriano. Just seems like Sori has lost his release point in the second half of the year and has no idea where the ball is going. I’m interested to see how things work out over the next 3 weeks…
I think Philly deserves some credit for not trying to weasel out of Rollins’ contract.