This is the final installment of a three-part series looking at players whose contracts include club options for 2019. In case you missed them, here are earlier pieces on position players and starting pitchers. We’ll close things out by examining relievers in similar situations.
Brandon Kintzler, RHP, Cubs – $10MM club option or $5MM player option: Thanks to his player option, Kintzler is in position to make at least $5MM in 2019. He’s lucky, too, because the 34-year-old’s $10MM club option looks rather steep in light of his 2018 output. Despite a lack of strikeouts, Kintzler has typically managed to limit earned runs by inducing a truckload of ground balls, but he has gone in the wrong direction on both counts this season. In 53 1/3 innings between Washington and Chicago, Kintzler has posted a 4.56 ERA/4.19 FIP and logged a 48.8 percent grounder rate (down nearly 8 percent from his lifetime mark). Kintzler’s time with the Cubs has been especially disastrous, as he has yielded 10 earned runs on 19 hits and six walks over 10 2/3 frames since they acquired him from the Nationals at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Sean Doolittle, LHP, Nationals – $6MM option, $500K buyout; Injuries, including a foot ailment that has kept him out since July, have been a regular occurrence for Doolittle. The 31-year-old has mostly been stellar when healthy enough to take the mound, though, and had been amid a career season before his latest injury. Over 37 1/3 innings in 2018, Doolittle has put up a 1.45 ERA/1.98 FIP with 11.82 K/9 and a microscopic .72 BB/9. Adding to the brilliance, the lefty has saved 22 of 23 opportunities. Doolittle is set to come off the DL soon, and after their season concludes, the Nats are primed to exercise his option for next year.
Fernando Rodney, RHP, Athletics – $4.25MM option, $250K buyout: Despite his age (41), Rodney has managed appealing results between Minnesota and Oakland this year. The longtime closer has been particularly effective in a setup role for the Athletics, who acquired him last month. During his short A’s tenure, Rodney has surrendered just one run on nine hits and three walks (with 11 strikeouts) over 11 2/3 frames. All told, Rodney has a 2.60 ERA/3.48 FIP with 9.92 K/9, 3.58 BB/9 and a 44.7 percent grounder rate in 55 1/3 innings. That output’s clearly worth the $4.25MM Rodney could make next year, but Oakland will have to weigh his age and inconsistent history when determining his future in the offseason.
Seunghwan Oh, RHP, Rockies – $2.5MM option, $250K buyout: In this case, there probably won’t be a decision to make on Colorado’s part, as Oh’s salary for 2019 will become guaranteed if he reaches 70 appearances. He’s already at 65, putting him on track with just under a month left in the regular season. And even without the vesting option, Colorado would welcome Oh back on a $2.5MM club option. After all, the 36-year-old has produced great numbers over 62 2/3 innings this season between the Blue Jays and Rockies, having recorded a 2.44/3.04 FIP with 10.2 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9.
Nate Jones, RHP, White Sox – $4.65MM option*: Jones has been tremendous at times, but injuries – including a pronator muscle strain this year – have marred his career. Since 2017, the 32-year-old has combined for a mere 36 1/3 innings (24 2/3 this season). With a $1.25MM buyout, there’s not a huge price to keeping Jones. Critically, his contract also includes two more option years (though the second one will be converted to a mutual option), so there’s future upside to be considered as well.
*An earlier version of this post indicated that Jones could be retained at the league minimum, by operation of a clause in his contract. MLBTR has since learned that the greater value now listed will instead apply.