MLBTR released its annual compilation of out-of-options players just yesterday. Many of those listed have already sewn up active roster spots. But there are quite a few on the bubble. Here are eight of the most interesting out-of-options players to watch … particularly for teams that’ll be eyeing the waiver wire for hidden gems later this month:
Athletics: Jorge Mateo (2B/SS), Franklin Barreto (2B/SS), Tony Kemp (2B/OF)
We ran through this trio earlier in Spring Training, but there’s still no real clarity on who’s going to come away from this bunch with the Athletics’ starting job at second base — or even if it will be any of them. (Sheldon Neuse is also in the mix, although he has minor league options remaining.) Both Mateo and Barreto are former Top 100 prospects acquired by Oakland in high profile trades. Mateo came in the deal that sent Sonny Gray to the Yankees, while Barreto was acquired as a teenager in the ill-fated Josh Donlaldson swap with the Blue Jays. Mateo is an 80-grade runner and a natural shortstop who could shift to a utility role if he doesn’t win the second base gig. Barreto has had more success at the plate in the upper minors. Kemp, acquired from the Cubs in a small trade earlier in the winter, is the longest shot to win the job but could nab a bench spot, as he’s also capable of covering the outfield and the A’s are light on lefty bats.
Barreto entered Spring Training as the favorite, and he’s been the most impressive at the plate in a small sample of Cactus League games so far. The Royals and Tigers have reportedly shown some trade interest in Mateo.
Blue Jays: Anthony Alford (OF)
Toronto has room to carry Alford on the Opening Day roster, but the combination of Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez and Derek Fisher could all have bigger roles rotating between the outfield and designated hitter slots.
Alford, a former two-sport star and top prospect, has only logged 59 MLB plate appearances despite reaching the Majors in each of the past three seasons. That he’s out of options puts the Jays in a tough spot, as he can’t be sent to Triple-A for regular work but also probably won’t find everyday at-bats in the 2020 outfield — barring injuries to the four names ahead of him.
Cardinals: Rangel Ravelo (1B/OF)
With Paul Goldschmidt entrenched at first base, Ravelo has no path to his primary position. The Cards gave Ravelo his first look at third base since 2012 while he was in Triple-A this past season and also gave him some work in the outfield corners. The 27-year-old (28 in April) is looking at a spot as a right-handed bench bat on a heavily right-handed team that doesn’t have an easy path to regular at-bats. Over the past three seasons, he’s batted .307/.386/.480 in Triple-A — good for a 123 wRC+. Ravelo could be the Cardinals’ next version of Jose Martinez — a lefty-mashing first baseman/outfielder off the bench — but between Tyler O’Neill, Lane Thomas and Austin Dean, they’re not exactly short on right-handed bats to fill that role.
Reds: Scott Schebler (OF)
Schebler was a 30-homer bat for the Reds two years ago but struggled to get on base that year, hitting .233/.307/.484 on the whole. His power dipped in ’18 as his OBP rose, but he flopped in the big leagues and in Triple-A last year while battling oblique injuries. With Nick Castellanos, Shogo Akiyama, Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker and Aristides Aquino all likely ahead of Schebler on the depth chart now, his roster spot seems to be on shaky ground — though Aquino’s rough spring does leave room to claim a roster spot. Schebler will play the 2020 season at 29 years of age, and he’s controlled another four years via arbitration.
Rockies: Jeff Hoffman (RHP)
Hoffman was a top-10 draft pick, a top-50 MLB prospect and the centerpiece of the trade that sent Troy Tulowitzki from Denver to Toronto back in 2015. A half decade later, however, he’s toting a career 6.11 ERA and 5.67 FIP through more than 200 big league innings. Hoffman hasn’t even found success in the upper minors, but his pedigree, above-average fastball velocity (93.7 mph average in ’19), and excellent fastball spin (89th percentile) could all prompt another team to try its hand at coaxing some of that potential out of him. Hoffman certainly wouldn’t be the first pitcher to struggle at Coors Field only to find success following a change of scenery.
The Rockies aren’t exactly dealing with an arms surplus themselves and may be loath to let go of Hoffman for a minimal return. But owner Dick Monfort seems intent on making an attempt to contend in 2020, and Hoffman hasn’t performed well this spring. It’s feasible that he could be on the outside looking in.
White Sox: Carson Fulmer (RHP)
Once one of the most touted college arms in the country, Fulmer was the topic of great debate in the 2015 draft, when he went eighth overall to the White Sox. Fulmer led Vanderbilt’s rotation to the College World Series, but many scouting reports on him pegged him as a surefire reliever. The ChiSox were committed to him as a starter up until 2018, but he finally moved to the ’pen that season and pitched exclusively in short stints in 2019. Fulmer hasn’t had success in the Majors or in the upper minors, but he showed elite spin on his four-seamer and breaking ball in 2019 while posting career-bests in average velocity (93.7 mph) and swinging-strike rate (10.8 percent).
The White Sox have, at most, two spots available in their bullpen this spring. Fulmer has turned in a strong effort — two runs on seven hits and three walks with 11 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings — but manager Rick Renteria hasn’t labeled him any sort of favorite at this point (link via Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times).
Teoscar played 1 game with the trash in 2017 and was like get me outta merica
Another interesting case is Padres reliever Javy Guerra. Converted from SS last year and throws high 90s heat. Lack of minor league options could force him in to an already crowded SD bullpen.
All American Johnsonville Dogs
Padres will most likely keep him this year, unless he just gets hammered in his outings early on.
He’s cheap, controllable, and with Yates entering a FA year they’ll keep Guerra over Barraclough.
I think the Padres will keep Guerra and use him in long relief to start. His lack of experience is a concern, but he seems like a nice kid and a hard worker. Hopefully he will be able to adapt after major league hitters see his stuff a few times and start to figure him out.
Could we actually see Gabe Kapler pinch-running for Buster Posey in the late innings of close games for the Giants? Was shocked to hear Kapler float that idea to the media yesterday.
Kapler gonna make himself the 26th man?
Maybe Dave Roberts could pinch run? That worked out well. Oh yes.
Kapler is the manager he would be ineligible to pinch-run.
I remember the white Sox being short handed one time in Toronto and they were going to add Ozzie Guillen to roster and still just manage i guess and be player
Pretty sure that was a joke at Posey’s expense, seeing as how he’s probably the slowest runner in MLB.
“a lefty-mashing first baseman/outfielder off the bench ”
Who are you talking about? Jose Martinez is right handed as is everyone else you listed.
They’re right handed. They mash left handed pitching. They’re “lefty-mashing”.
I mean, it’s IS Steve Adams
They’re right handed. They mash left handed pitching. They’re “lefty-mashing”
Derek Fisher doesn’t belong in the big leagues. Shapiro needs to put on glasses And look at the guy play and put away the spreadsheet. #bluejays
Fisher will be given all spring training to show he belongs, but Davis and McKinney are both going to push him hard! Alford has shown nothing so far and is very much on the bubble right now!
Fisher is doing just fine in the spring. 3 BB v 4 Ks. OBP of .360.
Jimmertree on the other hand continues to hit .009 with a lot of whiffs.
And he dropped another easy fly ball the other day. Fisher is a terrible defender. He nor Alford belong.
Agreed, Jimmer. Odd trade.
They gave up nothing of value for Fisher really. 1 long shot prospect is all Houston is left with.
*was* left with…
You know what this is called? Intimidation.
That trade was just a disaster for everyone looking back
the Stros really could have salvaged it if they did anything besides trade Stevenson for Austin Pruitt of all people
As a White Sox fan, I’m betting Fulmer gets let go at some point this season. He has looked great in spring training and he has great stuff, but he has yet to be even average in the majors. If he pitches anywhere close to how he did last year, I’m hoping he’s gone by June.
I get what you are saying, but I do think this spring things seem to have finally clicked. As mentioned in the article, he hasn’t really had success in MLB OR high minors, so to see some success even in the Spring is good. Throwing strikes where he is trying to throw them has always been his problem, and he did that perfectly in the game yesterday, so… fingers still crossed that he’s figured it out.
Tayron Guerrero is an interesting arm if they fix his control
I never held much hope for him as a starter but was very optimistic on him out of the pen but my patience has worn thin. I agree that if he doesn’t have his stuff in order by mid season or sooner, the Sox should move on.
Idioms for Idiots
Unless he collapses the next couple weeks of ST, Fulmer’s breaking camp with the Sox. Though he’s down to his last chance to produce.
Of course last Spring we all thought Giolito was a bust, so anything’s possible, I guess. I’m sure they will have him on a short leash, especially with Kopech coming up in May or June.
He won’t make it through waivers, so this is his last shot in a Sox uniform. As bad as he was last year, I wish they didn’t bounce him like a ping-pong ball between Chicago and Charlotte. That certainly didn’t help him. They should’ve kept him up or kept him down (down being the better option).
I suspect Fulmer will be gone once Kopech comes back up, assuming there isn’t a rash of injuries in the pen at that point. But I’d love him to prove me wrong.
I have not been a fan of Fulmer just because he has a career ERA of 5 in the minors and over 6 in MLB. But, I think the ability is maybe coming to surface, finally. I hope you are right and he breaks camp with team… they have a number of guys in the pen that I am not confident in… Marshall, Herrera, Cordero, Frye. All have potential of course, just saying at least one of them will probably not be very good. If Fulmer starts out well I could see him really establishing himself… we will see soon enough, if they don’t let fears about virus ruin the baseball season.
Fulmer will break camp with the Sox.
What happens after that is up to him.
Yap – always seemed to be a head case. College was over five years ago.
Sox rushed him.
He makes team this year but sees little action.
Kopech should break camp with Sox and pitch out of the pen.
Needs to work with Cooper as he gets stretched out. Why waste his pitches in the minors?
Bullpen in the meantime would be awesome!
I have always thought a good swap would be Jeff Hoffman to the Mets for Dominic Smith. Hoffman could easily blossom in NY and Smith would be a good bench bat this year but could easily take over at first next year when Daniel Murphy’s deal runs out. Or even earlier if Murphy is moved at the deadline.
the mets would never make that deal, smith could be a star with everyday playing time while hoffman is a bust.
So one prospect who has disappointed in limited playing time is a bust, but the other prospect who has disappointed in limited playing time could be a star with everyday playing time?
The problem is that Smith will not get everyday playing time with the Mets, they have that Alonso guy pretty much locked in at first, so he will just rot on the bench until he is out of options in a year or two and we have the same conversation about him. Might as well move him now for a high upside arm that has floundered at altitude instead of losing him for little or nothing then.
Smith hardly dissapointed last year
He didn’t have a bad year statistically, but rewind three years and say that Dom Smith would not pass 200 at bats over the next three seasons in Queens and you would find a lot of disappointed Mets fans.
So he is not disappointing in the same way as Hoffman, but he’s basically been passed by a better prospect at his primary position. So you have to decide if you want to gamble on him not hurting you too much in the OF or just trading him for at worst a decent bullpen piece. I can understand some wanting to take the gamble on his upside with a move to the OF, but I wouldn’t do it. With the Mets already having Davis, Conforto, Nimmo, Cespedes, Marisnick, and McNeil as OF options, you don’t really need him there either.
Perhaps you could even expand it with an additional prospect swap to make it work. Something like Hoffman and one of Welker/Nevin/Vilade for Dom Smith and one of Szapucki/Smith/Peterson. The Rox get a position player for MLB and the Mets get a pitcher for MLB. The Mets get a position player with more options and time and the Rox get a pitcher with more options and time. It just seems like it makes too much sense for both teams.
Scott Schebler will NOT gain a roster spot with the Reds. Philip Ervin who is also out of options, will get one before he does…
Alford’s not swinging the bat well and has misjudged a couple balls in the OF. He can run and that’s about it. There is a reason he isn’t looked at as a CF despite showing tremendous speed.
Jays will most likely carry 5 outfielders.
But if Alford can’t cut it then of course he can be sent to the minors…as long as he clears waivers.
And what other team is going to give a guy who cannot hit a spot on their 26 man roster?!
If Davis makes the team then the answer is the Blue Jays. Davis is really good in CF and he can run. If he’s in for D while moving Grichuk to RF and Teoscar off the field to close games that would be fine. Whatever he can contribute with the bat is a bonus.
My point was I dont see Alford being claimed by another team. And if he does then I think the Jays are fine with cutting their losses on the guy.
You’re probably right. It’s possible 1 GM will believe they can “change” him. He’s a great athlete. So is Tim Tebow. Alford’s been a touted prospect for doing nothing except be athletic. Someone might snag him. But I’d absolutely take my chances if I’m the Jays at this point.
yeah, i really dont see Alford getting claimed at this point.
Do any of you trolls work? Or are you in mommas basement?
Yes. And I don’t work from my mom’s basement. Not furnished and the wifi is suspect, probably.
How about you?
I’m retired living a full life. Thank you
So how do you know the rest of us aren’t retired as well? Although I do question that if you consider insulting anonymous people about their work ethic part of your “full life,” You might not be doing well.
Have a nice day.
How many hours of internet a day are you allowed in the retirement home?
Hooray for assumptions!
…not full enough if you’re asking….
of all the articles to be angry about trolls on you chose this one?
1 Goose Man
All the “Alex Anthopolis sold the farm” haters need to look at this list and realize that he made the right moves. We gave up nothing.
And before somebody points to Thor, Dickey pitched over 600inning and went to the playoffs twice with Tor.
The Doc trade
Dawel Lugo trade
All bad deals for the Jays!!!
Vernon Wells trade goes down as probably the best, following closely by the JD trade. Coming in third, the Price trade was solid.
But dont act like he didnt savage the farm system and make some awful deals.
In fairness, the Rockies trade wasn’t exactly a good deal for Colorado either. Jose Reyes was possibly the worst Rockie ever and was paid $40+ million to go away. And none of the prospects have worked except Miguel Castro, but he didn’t work until he left.
Rockies trade was not horrible. Reyes absolutely had to go. That was the price to pay.
Cards trade with Rasmus wasn’t great. Probably gave up (at the time) too much in the Happ trade with Houston. Then lost again dealing Happ for Saunders. Lucked out on the Estrada trade.
PTSD doesn’t seem to realize the Jays would have probably made the playoffs in 2015 WITHOUT those trades and keeping Syndergaard, D’Arnaud and company.
these players will seek out teams who can get them back on the payroll & roster…….some might look at top teams to go to…….others, will take any team to join.
Carson Fulmer is definitely interesting one.
Look for the Reds to try to keep Mark Pryor, a Rule 5 Pick former the A’s. Possibly offer him back to the A’s but, send Schebler instead via a trade.
A’s don’t need an out of options outfielder
Okay, then let’s say Aquino and the Reds keep Pryor.
Payton was added before most of their newcomers were. he was probably just insurance in case they didnt add another OF. he’s not exactly a stud prospect and hasn’t proven anything in thr Majors yet, so he’s probably 1st to go. perhaps they deal him to NYY.
Phil Ervin is a much more interesting out of options Reds OF.
Ervin is not going anwhere.
I don’t think he is either. I think the Reds have Castellanos, Senzel, Akiyama, Ervin, and Winker on the roster, but could honestly see Winker or Ervin dealt. Aquino is in AAA if you ask me.
I wouldn’t mind seeing Hoffman in the Tigers rotation, pitching in Comerica.
Redsox could have interest in Hoffman and Fulmer
Neuse was already optioned
Hoffman is a bust
It’s too early to write off Hoffman completely. He just can’t play at altitude. You could have said the same thing about Drew Pomeranz at the same point in his career with the Rox. He’s turned in a decent, albeit inconsistent, MLB career after leaving Denver.
Strongly disagree on Kemp looking like the least likely to win the job, it’s looking like he’s going to be the strong side of a platoon there unless/until either of the other two run away with it relegating kemp to super util
You actually have Fisher ahead of Alford? Stupid.
I love Alford but he just can’t seem to put it all together with Toronto. Hell McKinney is having a great spring training. Davis is doing ok. Ive been down here watching the games and watching those two (McKinney/Davis) has been a little eye opening on the work they put in during the off season. Fisher needs glasses or something cause he can’t see the ball…like at all.
From what I’ve seen on TV, McKinney is playing like he doesn’t want to be in Buffalo. And he wants a starting job in Toronto. He came into camp prepared.
Davis plays hard and really moves well in CF. I hear you on Alford; great athlete but can’t put it together.