Collette Calls: Players Out of Options
Collette Calls: Players Out of Options

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

I hope you enjoyed the 60 bold predictions scattered across the last six pieces which provided you with a hitter and a pitcher from each club for your 2019 drafts. This article is aimed at those of you that play in single league formats because nearly every one of these players is not worth an active roster spot in a mixed league, in their current form.

I am focusing on players who are out of options this year as we approach the cut date for rosters and teams must decide whether to keep these players, expose them to waivers, or trade them to a team for a player with some control. Teams typically do not like to carry too many players without roster flexibility as it limits their ability to play with the roster throughout the season when they need an extra pitcher for a tough week, or want to carry an extra hitter at other times. There are some interesting players in this case below, and why you should care if the player is kept, or perhaps offered another opportunity with another club.

Socrates Brito is trying to secure a reserve spot in Arizona's outfield, but the odds are stacked against him as a lefty with David Peralta and Jarrod Dyson also hitting from the left side. Peralta is the starting left fielder, Dyson is a lock in a reserve capacity with his experience and speed, while Brito only brings speed to the table. Brito has hit .302/.352/.484 in just over 1100 plate appearances in Triple-A the past few seasons, but has done little at the major-league level garnering 175 plate appearances over the past four seasons. Brito had one of the highest sprint speed measures of the 2018 season, topping out at 29.9 feet per second. The athleticism may give him another chance this year, but he has not been able to crack through any playing time ceiling in previous efforts.

Derek Dietrich absolutely has a job on the Cincinnati roster, but not an everyday job. Dietrich has a 114 wRC+ for his career against righty pitching (.259/.343/.434 triple-slash). He is coming off a season in which he set career high in homers, in a pitcher's park, by selling out a bit more for power to get some home runs. The new home park should help his value, and Dietrich can move around multiple positions. He can play three infield positions and both corner outfield positions, and will get extra playing time during interleague play.

Raimel Tapia is part of a crowded situation in Colorado. Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl, and Ian Desmond are locks for the starting jobs in the outfield, so Tapia is relegated to a fourth outfield role. The club has a resurgent Ryan McMahon in spring, and wants to find time for Garrett Hampson. If Hampson makes the club, it could either force McMahon back to Triple-A, or he assumes the role and Tapia is dealt elsewhere. Tapia has hit very well in the Pacific Coast League the past few years, but has done little at the major-league level and is not going to unseat one of those guys in the outfield. An injury opens up a role for him, but he really needs to be somewhere he can get consistent playing time so a club can see what they have in him.

Tom Murphy is in a battle for a catching position with Chris Iannetta and Tony Wolters. Wolters has an option remaining, so if both have a big spring, Wolters could become the cut because he can be kept on the roster. Murphy slugged .568 in the PCL last year and has pop but is the worst of the three defensively. Catcher is so terrible league-wide that Murphy could be dealt before the start of the season to somewhere he could play more than he likely will in Colorado this year.

Hernan Perez is an established major leaguer, but like Dietrich, has value because he can be moved around the diamond. He is also out of options, and is the guy blocking the path of Mauricio Dubon and Keston Hiura to join the majors. Perez's versatility and experience would be a good fit for many clubs. The recent acquisition of Mike Moustakas cuts into Perez's playing time, but the versatility and speed should keep him around this season barring a trade this spring to free up time for one of the kids.

Roman Quinn has a leg up on the fourth outfielder job because he is out of options while Nick Williams can be sent down again this year. It is unlikely the Phillies are going to move Quinn because he is a weapon off the bench with his game-changing speed. He may get time right out of the gate if Odubel Herrera's hamstring does not get better in short order. Any extra playing time for Quinn is a chance for him to get closer to the 30 steals I predict for him in 2019.

Nick Kingham should have the fifth spot in the rotation locked up as Mitch Keller has already been sent down in camp. The expected stats say Kingham was not as bad as his overall numbers were last year, but no pitcher is going to have good numbers allowing 2.1 homers every nine innings. It is weird to see a pitcher out of options after his rookie season, but that is the case here. This is why Kingham will have a longer leash than most pitchers with struggling numbers, because the club cannot simply farm him down.

John Gant should have a job with the Cardinals as they head north because the Carlos Martinez situation made things a bit easier. There were many names in the mix initially along with Gant including Daniel Ponce de Leon, Austin Gomber and Dakota Hudson – and all four of the guys are working on new pitches this spring too. Gant always had the advantage in that he is the only one without options (Ponce de Leon and Gomber were recently ruled out of the Opening Day rotation). Gant's future may be in the 'pen, and if a move to relief is made, it would allow one of the other guys to grab the spot in the rotation. Gant's stuff will play up better in the 'pen anyhow.

Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart are battling it out for the second catcher spot in Boston behind Christian Vazquez. It is hard to believe a team won a World Series with a catching duo of Vazquez and Leon, but when the rest of your offense is that good, it doesn't matter who is catching. Two men enter, one man leaves here. Leon is essentially Chris Sale's personal catcher, which is why he has that sweet but utterly useless cERA next to his name. He can't hit, but neither can Swihart. The latter can steal some bases, but the athleticism has not translated into results at the plate as he strikes out way too often for a guy with little power to show for it. It is bad when Vazquez is the best of this bunch, but someone is getting their walking papers in a few days and will likely latch on with another club. Swihart's steals upside as a $1 second catcher in a single league is worth that if he loses this job and lands with another team.

Max Moroff was part of the small trade this winter where Cleveland sent Erik Gonzalez and others to Pittsburgh for Jordan Luplow and Moroff. Luplow has an option left, but Moroff does not, and the club will likely want to keep him once Francisco Lindor returns, and option down Yu Chang. Moroff has done nothing in just over 200 major-league plate appearances, but has been an OBP monster in the minor leagues. He had OBPs of .367 and .390 in 2016 and 2017 before slumping to .334 last year – all of which came in Triple-A. If you are in an AL-only league and need a reserve middle infielder and use OBP instead of average, and you are out of options, here is one.

Mikie Mahtook is part of what is a bad outfield situation in Detroit. Nicholas Castellanos will not be there much longer if Detroit is smart, and Mahtook and JaCoby Jones are both role players who have previously been forced into starting roles. Mahtook is ideally used as the short-side platoon guy with a good lefty outfielder, and that will be the case for now as Christin Stewart should have left field every day there is a righty on the mound. In an ideal world, Mahtook is the guy the club cuts when they call up Daz Cameron and let him sink or swim in center much like they did with Cameron Maybin many moons ago. The point here is that Mahtook does not have enough value for the lack of options to keep him on the roster.

Tony Kemp is a known quantity at the big-league level, but I mention him because he is the biggest roadblock to Kyle Tucker coming up early in the season. The club will have both Kemp and Jake Marisnick on the bench, so Tucker is best served playing daily in Triple-A waiting for someone to get hurt, or for Tyler White to flop in full-time duty.

Terrance Gore cracks me up as he has more career steals (27) than he does plate appearances (19), and yet he has a major-league contract for the 2019 season. As bad as the Royals are, Gore still should not be an everyday player, but if he steals 27 bases while never starting, what is he capable of if he plays even just once a week. Kansas City must run to create runs as its lineup does not have much power, and Gore will be one of the many guys in motion on the bases when he manages to reach base as a hitter or pinch runs for another player.

Cam Bedrosian has had chances to get the closer job, only to fail miserably when given those chances. He is now out of options, but still in a bullpen with question marks starting with the shaky Cody Allen. Bedrosian's average fastball velocity has dropped nearly three miles an hour over the past three seasons, so he is now looking to throw a splitter to help make his fastball look better. It has looked good in the spring, but if that pitch does not work out, the Angels should not hang onto Bedrosian and will look to bring someone else up.

C.J. Cron and Tyler Austin are both battling for a job on the Twins roster, and this situation is confusing. The club signed Nelson Cruz to anchor the DH spot, so these two right-handed sluggers are competing for the first base job. Consider this:

PlayerBatted Ball EventsAVG Exit VeloEV on LD/FBHardHit%Barrels/BBExSLG
Austin15289964416%0.487
Cron36188943712%0.482

Cron is making just over $5M this year, while Austin is making just over the league minimum. These players are incredibly redundant in both play the same position, both are righties, but only one of them has hit 30 homers in a major-league season. Austin has not had much of a chance yet either in New York or Minnesota, but he can hit the ball very well. If Minnesota exposes him to waivers, he would quickly be picked up by an American League team and could play his way into a mostly everyday role. The same could be said for Cron as well. Either way, one of these guys is on their way out of Minnesota soon, but could end up in a situation with more playing time before the season begins.

Adalberto Mejia should make the club, but it will likely be in a long-relief role because of the surprising resurgence of Martin Perez this spring. The two lefties could be interchangeable, or Mejia could be the guy to follow up Jake Odorizzi and eat up that third time through the order. Mejia has pitched well in Triple-A and was decent in 2017 for the Twins, but last year was not a good one in limited major-league time. That said, if the Twins exposed him to waivers, he would quickly be gobbled up.

Frankie Montas' stuff has not translated into results yet at the big-league level, and it is make-or-break time for him this year. He should still make the club, but the role is in question. He could use his hard stuff and become a factor in the middle innings, or become an opener if the A's want to dabble more into that role. You cannot just write off a guy with a 70-grade fastball and a 60-grade slider, but when that guy is out of options, the A's have to figure out a way to use him or they'll lose him to roster moves.

Domingo Santana, Daniel Vogelbach and Tim Beckham are each out of options in Seattle. It is a weird lineup because Seattle currently has Santana in left field and Jay Bruce in right field, so they're asking Mitch Haniger to cover A LOT of ground on his own in center. Vogelbach should be the everyday DH, but then again, so should Edwin Encarnacion. Beckham is going to be the club's starting shortstop to begin the season, but J.P. Crawford is right on his heels. Santana went from a booming 2017 to a bust in 2018, but Seattle has the patience to give him one more try. Vogelbach has put up solid numbers in Tacoma the past three years, but has little to show for it at the major-league level mostly because he rarely had a chance to play like he does now. Each of these guys are worth acquisition on draft day, but Vogelbach and Beckham could both quickly be marginalized if they stumble out of the gate.

Wilmer Font looked good for Tampa Bay after they picked him up from Oakland, until he went down with a bad oblique injury. The club sent Jake Faria down to the farm over the weekend all but assuring Font a role as a one-time-through guy behind an opener, or a bulk guy if Jalen Beeks or Ryan Yarbrough are not available. The overall numbers last year were not good, but the expected statistics show that he was particularly unlucky in slugging percentage as his expected slugging percentage was 69 points below his actual mark.

Randal Grichuk and Dalton Pompey are both out of options, which does not mean much on its own. However, when you couple that with the fact the DH spot is locked up with Kendrys Morales, and center field is locked down with Kevin Pillar, that leaves the corner outfield spots with Grichuk, Pompey, Teoscar Hernandez, and Billy McKinney. That also leaves no room for the hot-hitting Anthony Alford this spring, who also has an option. Alford is all but assured to go to Buffalo unless the club frees up a spot by making a trade. The problem is that there is a glutton of these types of outfielders out there, so teams will likely play the waiting game and let the player be exposed to waivers and pick them up.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. He covers the Tampa Bay Rays at theprocessreport.net. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Sleeper and the Bust podcast on iTunes. An eight-time FSWA finalist, Jason won the FSWA's Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year award in 2013 and the Baseball Series of the Year award in 2018 for Collette Calls.
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