The Twins have been granted a fourth minor league option on southpaw Lewis Thorpe, tweets Dan Hayes of The Athletic. The 25-year-old was one of several players in limbo waiting for an arbiter to rule whether he could be optioned for a fourth year or had exhausted his minor league options. The Cubs were also granted a fourth option over righty Adbert Alzolay yesterday, while Nats righty Erick Fedde was determined to be out of minor league options.
The discrepancy stems from the rules surrounding eligibility for a fourth minor league option. Teams can be granted a fourth option over players who have fewer than five “full” seasons but have exhausted all three of their original minor league options. A “full” season, under the collective bargaining agreement, stipulates that a player spends 90 or more days on an active roster — be it at the big league or minor league level. Time on the injured list does not count. Given last year’s shortened, 67-day schedule and the lack of a conventional “active roster” at teams’ alternate training sites, there was an obvious lack of clarity regarding some players on the cusp of that fourth-option distinction.
The ruling on Thorpe benefits the Twins, as they can now shuttle Thorpe to and from their new Triple-A affiliate in St. Paul without needing to expose him to waivers. The Aussie lefty has pitched quite well this spring, holding opponents to a pair of runs on four hits and two walks with eight punchouts in 7 2/3 innings. However, the Twins have a full rotation at the moment, and Thorpe has some competition for the remaining bullpen spots. Had he been out of minor league options, he would’ve been all but assured a roster spot given that the Twins wouldn’t have risked losing him to waivers.
With a fourth option in place, Thorpe will likely split his time between Target Field in Minneapolis and CHS Field in St. Paul. He could be a depth option in the rotation behind Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker, joining righty Randy Dobnak and lefty Devin Smeltzer in that regard. Thorpe could also eventually be seen as a multi-inning bullpen piece or a more conventional one-inning lefty, depending on performances and health among the Twins’ more established relievers.