As part of last year’s collective bargaining agreement, MLB and the Players Association agreed to a few automatic opt-out dates for some veteran players on minor league contracts. Article XX(B) free agents — players with over six years of MLB service who finished the preceding season on a big league roster — who sign minor league contracts more than ten days before Opening Day now receive three uniform chances to retest free agency if they’re not added to the majors.
The first comes five days before the start of the season. For players who pass on that initial opt-out, they have additional windows to explore the open market on both May 1 and June 1 if they’ve yet to secure a spot on the 40-man roster. As that second opt-out date nears, it’s worth checking in on a few players with opt-outs under the CBA. We’ll also look at a few players who don’t meet those criteria but reportedly negotiated forthcoming opt-out dates into their own non-roster deals.
- Reds RHP Chase Anderson
Anderson was an Article XX(B) player who passed on his first opt-out chance. The 35-year-old finished last season with nine outings (seven starts) for the Reds, allowing a 6.38 ERA in 24 innings. He returned to the organization and has started five games for their top affiliate in Louisville. He carries a 4.30 ERA over 23 frames with a modest 19% strikeout rate while walking 13% of opposing hitters. It’s not a great first few weeks but the Reds don’t have much certainty behind their top three starters. Connor Overton is on the injured list, while Luis Cessa has been rocked for 20 runs in 16 2/3 innings.
- Angels RHP Chris Devenski
Devenski also forewent his Spring Training opt-out. The 32-year-old accepted a season-opening assignment to Triple-A Salt Lake, where he’s made seven relief outings. In nine innings, he’s allowed four runs with nine strikeouts and three walks. It’s a decent if not overwhelming performance. Devenski was an elite multi-inning relief option for the Astros between 2016-17 but he’s battled injuries and performance fluctuations since then. He threw 14 2/3 MLB innings between the Diamondbacks and Phillies last year, allowing an 8.59 ERA with a modest 17.5% strikeout rate but only walking one of the 67 hitters he faced. The Angels have a number of relievers who can’t be optioned to the minor leagues, perhaps reducing their flexibility to add another player of that ilk in Devenski.
- Nationals LHP Sean Doolittle
Doolittle bypassed an opt-out chance in Spring Training after returning to Washington over the winter. He’s spent the year on the injured list as he continues to work back from last summer’s internal brace UCL surgery. The veteran threw a live batting practice session this week and could see game action in the not too distant future (via MLB.com injury tracker). It stands to reason he’ll stick with the Nats.
- Rangers LHP Danny Duffy, OF Rafael Ortega
Duffy has spent the season on the injured list. He’s working back from forearm issues that have prevented him from throwing a major league pitch since July 2021. He already passed on a Spring Training opt-out and seems likely to do so again.
Ortega built an April 29 opt-out date into the minor league deal he signed with the Rangers earlier this month. He’d spent the spring in camp with the Yankees but didn’t crack New York’s roster and retested the market. Since signing with Texas, he’s played 17 games for Triple-A Round Rock. He carries a middling .219/.324/.313 line with one homer through 74 plate appearances. He’s drawing plenty of walks but not hitting for power and striking out a little more often than he has in recent seasons.
The lefty-hitting outfielder is coming off a reasonable .241/.331/.358 showing for the Cubs in 2022. He’s capable of playing all three outfield spots but is probably best suited for a corner. Texas has gotten strong early-season work from minor league signee Travis Jankowski and has Adolis García and Leody Taveras penciled into starting roles. The Rangers haven’t gotten much production from any of their left field options aside from Jankowski, though, and it’s questionable how long the journeyman can keep up anything approaching his current .340/.415/.447 pace.
- Rays OF Ben Gamel
Gamel, 31 next month, has been a decent left-handed platoon outfielder in recent seasons. He typically hits around a league average level, including a .232/.324/.369 line over 115 games with the Pirates last year. After signing with the Rays, he’s off to a .217/.316/.406 start in 79 plate appearances at Triple-A Durham. He’s walking at a customarily strong 12.7% clip but has gone down on strikes in more than 30% of his trips. Left-handed hitting outfielders Josh Lowe and Luke Raley have had excellent starts for Tampa Bay, which could make it hard for Gamel to play his way into the MLB mix anytime soon.
- White Sox OF Billy Hamilton
Hamilton, 32, returned for a second stint with the White Sox over the winter. He’s appeared in 14 games with Triple-A Charlotte but hasn’t produced, stumbling to a .150/.292/.175 batting line. The speedster has been successful on all three of his stolen base attempts but likely needs to show a little more at the plate to earn the pinch-running/defensive specialist role he’s played for a number of teams over the past four-plus seasons. The White Sox recently selected Adam Haseley onto the MLB roster to serve as a glove-first fourth outfielder.
- Phillies RHP Jeff Hoffman
Hoffman didn’t sign early enough to receive the automatic opt-out for Article XX(B) free agents. He negotiated opt-out chances on both May 1 and July 1 into his April deal with the Phils. The righty has pitched seven times for their top affiliate in Lehigh Valley, allowing eight runs across 7 2/3 innings. He’s punched out 13 hitters but handed out five free passes. Hoffman had a reasonable 3.83 ERA through 44 2/3 frames for the Reds last season, missing bats at a league average rate but walking nearly 12% of his opponents. The Phils only have three out of eight relievers who can’t be optioned to the minors, giving them some room to add the veteran if they’re intrigued by Hoffman’s swing-and-miss capabilities.
- Brewers OF Tyler Naquin
Naquin was an Article XX(B) free agent who didn’t break camp with the big league club. He split the 2022 campaign between the Reds and Mets, combining to hit .229/.282/.423 over 334 trips to the plate. The left-handed hitting outfielder has played in 12 games for Triple-A Nashville, hitting .273/.319/.409. He’s not hitting for much power in the early going and has never been one to take too many walks. Naquin spent a bit of time on the injured list this month but was reinstated earlier in the week.
Milwaukee lost center fielder Garrett Mitchell to a season-threatening shoulder procedure and has gotten middling offensive production from rookie outfielder Joey Wiemer. They’re soon to welcome Tyrone Taylor back from the injured list, though, and Naquin’s serviceable but unexceptional Triple-A production may not force the front office’s hand.
- Tigers RHP Trevor Rosenthal
Rosenthal has had his last couple seasons washed away by injury. He lost 2021 to thoracic outlet syndrome and hip surgery, while his ’22 campaign was wiped out by hamstring and lat strains. The Tigers took a look at the one-time star closer in Spring Training and kept him in the organization with their highest affiliate in Toledo. Rosenthal pitched twice in the season’s first week before being placed on the minor league IL with a sprained throwing elbow. Jason Beck of MLB.com tweeted yesterday that Rosenthal is headed for physical therapy, suggesting he won’t be ready for game action in the near future.
- Giants RHP Joe Ross, C Gary Sánchez
Ross is recovering from last June’s Tommy John surgery and will spend most of the year on the injured list. He bypassed his first opt-out chance in March and seems likely to do the same next week.
Sánchez’s May 1 opt-out was built into his contract, as he didn’t sign early enough to receive the automatic opt-out under the CBA. The general expectation was that the veteran backstop would play his way onto the big league roster. That was particularly true once San Francisco lost Roberto Pérez to a season-ending shoulder injury. Sánchez hasn’t done anything to force the issue with Triple-A Sacramento, though.
He’s hitting a woeful .191/.350/.213 without a home run and a 25% strikeout rate over 13 games. Sánchez connected on 16 longballs in the majors for the Twins last year but only reached base at a .282 clip. There’s a path to playing time behind the dish at Oracle Park. Still, Sánchez’s early performance hasn’t been what the organization envisioned. Promoting him would lock in the prorated portion of a $4MM salary for this season, which could prove a disincentive for the club.
- Twins RHP Aaron Sanchez
Sanchez served a depth role for Minnesota last season, logging 60 innings over 15 outings (ten starts). He was tagged for a 6.60 ERA at the MLB level but performed well enough in Triple-A the organization brought him back. He’s started five games with St. Paul this season, logging 22 1/3 innings. While his 2.42 ERA is excellent, it belies a middling 19.2% strikeout percentage and a huge 17.2% walk rate. Minnesota has quite a bit more rotation depth than they did last summer and would probably look to players already on the 40-man roster (i.e. Simeon Woods Richardson and Louie Varland) before tabbing Sanchez if injuries necessitate.
- Padres RHP Craig Stammen
Stammen suffered a capsule tear in his shoulder in Spring Training. The 39-year-old has spent the year on the injured list and has admitted the injury might unfortunately end his career.
Always surprised when players like Sanchez haven’t just retired already. He’s mailing it in in AAA Sacramento which I’m sure is just a grand old time & has made over $22 million in his career.
He’ll enjoy the summer in St. Paul until the humidity hits and maybe have a chance to be a mopper for a contender.
Meh, I get where you’re coming from, but
even if his “heart isn’t in it” anymore, he’s still making about 6 figures this year just to play some ball. The veteran minor league minimum is something like $115 thou
why would devenski not used instead of 3 lefties?
Aragon, simply because Devenski hasn’t been pitching good. It’s tuff to bring up a reclamation project who hasn’t been pitching well in the minor’s, let alone spring to boot.
have the 3 lefties been any good?
Still have no idea what Sanchez or his agent are thinking with that contract. It’s like he wanted to get stuck in AAA.
What he was thinking? He was thinking he really wants a fried chicken family meal for 8 with ALL the fixins! Ahahaha!
Not delivered well.
According to the article above he’ll likely be un-stuck on may 1.
It’s possible his career will never be unstuck. It’s likely he could have signed earlier with a team that would have given him a serious shot as a backup catcher and given himself another season to prove that he can still contribute at the MLB level.
Instead he’s stuck in a depressing environment (for a vet) and will have to hope that a string of injuries hit the catchers on a playoff contending team. Giants gave him a chance and he tries to extract as much short term money as possible in a disastrous gamble on himself over a very short number of AB’s. It’s clear now why Yankees fans kept posting about his low baseball IQ as a defender.
Seeing guys advance TWO Bases on his passed balls will sour fans on a guy. You don’t have to be great. You have to try. Fatchez quit trying.
Should opt out and halve his prorated MLB salary so the giants would actually call him up
Stick a fork in Stammen, he’s done. Really had a good, solid time with the Padres during some lean years.
Semi retirement? He’s getting paid well
angels in Anaheim
How about Kole Calhoun? He can opt out soon.
Backup Catcher to the Backup Catcher
The hitters listed aren’t gonna remind anyone of Murderer’s Row, and there’s nary a Cy Young candidate among the pitchers.
Pitchers get hurt, so there’s more likely a scenario where one of the above gets a shot somewhere. As for the hitters, I don’t see Sanchez cracking the Giants roster unless Bart’s current injury keeps him out a long time. Sanchez would stand a better shot if he were an asset on defense, but he isn’t.
The player with the best shot might be Tyler Naquin. If he opts out, a LH bat off the bench with some pop should be attractive to any number of teams. A return to the Reds could make sense.
You’re probably right that a return to the Reds for Naquin makes sense, but it would come at the expense of at bats for the kids they’ll be cycling through this year.
The Reds surprisingly not “horrible,” but even if things went perfectly, they wouldn’t reach the postseason. So, adding a veteran bat like Naquin is unlikely.
This one belongs to the Reds
I’ll play devil’s advocate here. How many of those kids are outfielders, and who can play center field?
I’d say Friedl is a real LF and Fraley is the only other one who really has been fairly consistent, though not so far this season. Fairchild is a platoon or bench option at best.
Ramos is not a kid and Senzel is an infielder playing outfield on the occassions he can play, and never lived up to the hype.
Just food for thought, though I agree the kid GM will never bring in a vet because he sat on his hands all offseason when there was veteran starter and relief help for their young pitchers to be had.
This one belongs to the Reds
The only way Chase Anderson should go back to the Reds is something seriously gone wrong like a rash of injuries and there is no alternative or a collective brain fart from team management.
BPrice's 77 F-Bombs
Anderson looked horrible Thursday starting for the Louisville Bats. Can’t see him adding any value to the Reds.
Jake Marisnick isn’t on this list?
Sanchez actually hit 60 HRs in his first 162 games played. He was THIS close to being another Aaron Judge. Too bad he got derailed.