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An Indians options primer for 2020

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A quick reminder of what options are, how they are work, and who has them

MLB: FEB 19 Cleveland Indians Photo Day Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Thanks to wonderful sites like FanGraphs and Roster Resource, options are no longer quite the mystery they once were. Before the two merged and put the number of options each player had on their player page, it was mostly a guessing game as to who had what options and how they actually worked.

For that reason — and because last year’s more in-depth explanation already exists — this post is going to mainly focus on who has options and how they’ll impact the roster.

The short of options is simple, from MLB’s official definition:

Players on a 40-man roster are given three Minor League “options.” An option allows that player to be sent to the Minor Leagues (“optioned”) without first being subjected to waivers. When a player is optioned to the Minors for a span of more than 20 days, he loses an option.

Calling them “options” instead of “option years” is probably the most confusing thing about options, because if a player has “an option” what that really means is he can be optioned throughout the year.

Take Greg Allen for example. He’s one of the dozen or so outfielders with a shot at making the Opening Day roster. He also has an option unlike, say, the newest addition to the mix, Domingo Santana. That alone makes Allen more versatile to the Indians because he can be sent down to Triple-A to save him to replace an injured major-leaguer instead of leaving him on the bench. Of course Domingo is a far better hitter so it might not matter, but we’re just talking options here.

Pretty much every outfielder the Indians can choose from has an option year remaining. Daniel Johnson, who is on the 40-man roster but has yet to step onto a major-league field, will likely use one of his three remaining options to start the year in Triple-A. If Jake Bauers’s spring training struggles are any indication, he will be using his final option to do the same.

Options frequently come into play with relievers, who are constantly being shuffled up and down the organizational chart when they slump or look hot on the mound. Óliver Pérez is obviously optionless considering he’s been in baseball since the Cold War. Same goes for Brad Hand.

Hunter Wood is only 26, but he too is out of options because he bounced back and forth with the Rays for two years before the Indians picked him up midway through last season on his third and final option year. He’ll probably be given the longest leash in the bullpen for that reason — if he struggles and needs more Triple-A seasoning, he’ll have to be exposed to the waiver wire before the Indians can send him down.

Similarly, Adam Plutko is out of options and seems like a lock to be the fifth starter to open the season, thanks in part to his lack of options. He’s no star, but he’s good enough to not want to lose outright on waivers, and he might also find a spot in the bullpen at some point.

Just to have it all in one neat place, here is a look at the Indians 40-man roster and how many options they each have, if any.

Pitchers

  • Sam Hentges - 2
  • Óliver Pérez - 0
  • Scott Moss - 3
  • Jean Carlos Mejia - 2
  • Triston McKenzie - 3
  • Phil Maton - 1
  • Zach Plesac - 3
  • Adam Plutko - 0
  • James Karinchak - 3
  • James Hoyt - 1
  • Jefry Rodriguez -1
  • Brad Hand - 0
  • Mike Clevinger
  • Emmanuel Clase
  • Aaron Civale - 2
  • Adam Cimber - 3
  • Carlos Carrasco - 0
  • Nick Wittgren - 1
  • Shane Bieger - 2
  • Hunter Wood - 0
  • Logan Allen - 2

Infielders

  • Carlos Santana - 0
  • José Ramírez - 0
  • Jakes Bauers - 1
  • Roberto Pérez - 0
  • Francisco Lindor - 3
  • Sandy León - 0
  • César Hernández - 0
  • Yu Chang - 1
  • Bobby Bradley - 2
  • Christian Arroyo - 0

Outfielders

  • Bradley Zimmer
  • Franmil Reyes - 2
  • Domingo Santana - 0
  • Greg Allen - 1
  • Tyler Naquin - 2
  • Oscar Mercado - 1
  • Jordan Luplow - 1
  • Daniel Johnson - 3
  • Delino DeShields - 1