With five days to go until Opening Day, decisions are due at noon eastern on players who qualify as Article XX(B) free agents. The rule applies to players who a) have six or more years of service; b) finished the prior season on a 40-man roster or on the 60-day DL; and c) signed Minor League deals over the offseason. If a team does not release such a player prior to the deadline, then they must either put the player on the active roster (or DL) to start the year or be on the hook for some extra benefits — a $100K retention bonus and June 1st opt-out date (at a minimum).
Here are updates on players who’ll be paid the bonus or have instead learned that they’ve made their respective teams …
- Righty Brandon Morrow will not make the Dodgers roster, but he will remain in the organization, as Ken Gurnick of MLB.com tweets. Morrow will take a minor-league assignment, and his $100K retention bonus, to open the season.
- Giants minor-league signee Aaron Hill is set to receive his $100K bonus, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News tweets, though that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to take an active roster spot to open the year. Baggarly suggests the veteran still has an excellent chance of earning an Opening Day nod after his solid performance in camp.
- The Angels have informed righty Yusmeiro Petit that he’ll be added to the roster for Opening Day, as Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times was among those to tweet. He figures to work as a long reliever and swingman in Los Angeles. Petit struggled in the second half last year for the Nationals, ending the year with a 4.50 ERA over 62 innings.
- Righty Tom Wilhelmsen and lefty Jorge De La Rosa have both been added to the Diamondbacks’ 40-man roster, the team announced, though only the latter is an Article XX(B) player. They’ll both join the bullpen for the start of the season. Wilhelmsen posted better numbers in the second half of 2016, but still wasn’t quite his former self. Meanwhile, De La Rosa is set to transition to the bullpen after serving mostly as a starter over his 13-year MLB career.
- The Padres will add shortstop Erick Aybar to their roster, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (via Twitter). The expectation is that Aybar will be the team’s regular at short to open the season. Clearly, that could change either now or in the future if the organization is able to pick up a somewhat younger player deemed worthy of a shot at a significant MLB opportunity. The 33-year-old Aybar has struggled badly in the past two seasons, though he was a productive, everyday player for years before that.
- Utilityman Emilio Bonifacio and lefty Eric O’Flaherty have been informed they’ll be on the Braves’ Opening Day roster, Mark Bowman of MLB.com was among those to report (Twitter link). The 31-year-old Bonifacio has struggled badly in his limited big league time over the past two seasons, though he had been a regular contributor before that. Never much with the bat, Bonifacio has long earned his keep through defensive versatility and excellence on the bases. Meanwhile, O’Flaherty has struggled to rediscover his form from his first stint in Atlanta. But he’ll receive another shot after a strong showing this spring; over 10 2/3 innings, O’Flaherty racked up 14 strikeouts and allowed just two earned runs on eight hits and three walks.
- The Rays have informed both infielder Rickie Weeks and righty Tommy Hunter that they will be on the active roster to open the season, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). Weeks is expected to function as a righty bench bat, perhaps spending some time at both first base and DH, while Hunter will take up a spot in the Tampa Bay bullpen. Both players enjoyed productive Grapefruit League stints, with Weeks posting a .999 OPS and Hunter allowing just one earned run (with nine strikeouts against three walks) in his eight innings. Both will require 40-man spots, once the moves are made official. Meanwhile, it’s not yet clear whether the team will commit to doing the same with just-acquired outfielder Peter Bourjos. Topkin tweets that he may instead be paid the roster bonus, though the team’s final decision isn’t yet known.