14 Veterans With Upcoming Opportunity To Opt Out Of Minor League Deals

MLB Trade Rumors

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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