Typically, late March is a time in which we see a lot of roster movement as clubs sort out their Opening Day rosters. Veteran free agents on minor-league deals can often force the action by virtue of opt-out clauses in their contracts. But the situation looks quite a bit different under the unusual circumstances of the delayed 2020 season.
League rosters have not been frozen. And there’s no rule suspending the operation of those opt-out clauses. Accordingly, teams and player agents have been left to sort things out on a case-by-case basis.
MLBTR’s Steve Adams reports (Twitter link) that there are a variety of approaches being taken around the game. In some cases, teams and players have effectively pushed back the decision by reaching new agreements pegged to some future date — from the start of a second Spring Training or eventual Opening Day. The Phillies, Blue Jays, and Pirates are in the latter camp.
In other situations, it seems, the sides have more or less tabled the details, leaving for another day a determination on the operation of the opt-out clause. And in still other cases, there’s still uncertainty. The Royals, for instance, are still trying to decide how best to handle the immediately pending (March 26th) opt-outs of veteran relievers Greg Holland and Trevor Rosenthal.
It’s certainly possible that those and other players will simply exercise their opt-out rights as originally negotiated. We’ve already seen some players — Joe Panik with the Blue Jays; Ryan Buchter with the Angels — earn 40-man roster spots in recent days, so some clubs have obviously been willing to make commitments.
Curious how this might impact your favorite team’s plans? Our 2019-20 Free Agent Tracker includes links to all of our posts on minor-league signings, with simple filters to help you isolate the signings of interest. At minimum, you’ll see many of the players who were brought into camp as non-roster invitees. And the linked posts on the signings include opt-out details, if they were reported.