No transactions happened this week in the organization. With the MLB team's callups complete, the minor league seasons long finished and no major preparation necessities going into the 11/12 offseason, everybody stayed put.
So this week, I'll be discussing the players (27, to be exact) that may begin departing our organization next week. While the minor league free agency season technically doesn't begin until the same time the MLB free agency does (after the World Series is completed), many teams begin to offer their minor league players the option to depart a little bit early. Now most of these 27 players will remain here until the end of October, but they are also the first set that are in line to depart, making now the best time to talk about them.
First, a quick breakdown on the primary ways in which players become eligible to leave via MiLB free agency.
When players are drafted and/or signed from amateur free agency (domestically or internationally), they are initially given seven year contracts, beginning the year of signing. That means that this season, remaining 2005 signees not protected by the 40 Man Roster will be free to leave our organization to either sign with another team, or perhaps choose to end their baseball career. Some will also choose to re-sign with the Rockies; indeed, some may have already arranged this over the past few weeks, but MiLB contracts aren't nearly as easy to track. We'll know what everyone is up to when free agents begin to leave.
Players who are signed to MiLB contracts during the offseason are almost universally signed to one year deals. Therefore, those players that we signed out of free agency this year that are not on the 40 Man Roster will also be departing.
The only other particularly common route to eligibility is by being outrighted off the roster. Though players who are eligible to declare free agency after being outrighted may do so upon the actual outright assignment, they get another window should they do so at the end of the season. Players who have been outrighted before in their careers or have at least 3 years of MLB service time become eligible to decline outright assignment. The Rockies outrighted five players from the 40 Man Roster this year: Alan Johnson, Alfredo Amezaga, Eric Stults, Edgar Gonzalez and Ryan Rohlinger. The first four of them were all eligible to leave via MiLB free agency regardless, and Rohlinger has neither 3 years of MLB service nor a previous career outright. In other words, no Rockies players will be leaving this offseason for this reason.
See a complete list of departing players after the jump.
1 year MiLB Free Agents
SP Billy Buckner (signed in offseason)
SP Edgar Gonzalez (signed midseason)
SP John Maine (signed in offseason)
RP Blake Johnson (signed midseason)
RP Dustin Molleken (signed in offseason)
RP Eric Stults (signed in offseason)
RP Joe Torres (signed in offseason)
RP Sean White (signed in offseason)
IF Jorge Cantu (signed midseason)
IF Hernan Iribarren (signed in offseason)
IF Max Leon (signed midseason)
IF Matt Macri (signed in offseason)
IF Joe Mather (signed midseason)
IF Jesus Merchan (acquired via trade midseason)
OF Scott Beerer (re-signed in offseason)
OF Bronson Sardinha (re-signed in offseason)
OF Willy Taveras (signed in offseason)
As you can see, two of these players were Rockies players that returned this past year. Several others, including Jason van Kooten, Ching Lung Lo, Jonnathan Aristil and more are other examples of players that re-signed with the Rockies after leaving them at the end of 2010, though these players were either released or traded before the end of the 2011 season.
7 Year Free Agents
These are the 10 players that were signed in 2005 that remain with the team. They are declaring free agency for the first time, after making their way through their seven year deals. IF Radames Nazario was part of this group before his release two weeks ago. Once again, some of these players could be returning on a one year deal this offseason.
SP Kyle Hancock
SP Alan Johnson
SP Josh Sullivan
RP Leuris Gomez
RP Andrew Johnston
C Jose Gonzalez
IF Mike Paulk
OF Leonardo Reyes
OF Orlando Sandoval
Last year, the Rockies added OF Cole Garner to the 40 Man Roster before his free agent departure. Since MLB free agency is declared under different constraints than MiLB free agency, this would allow the Rockies to keep one of these players. That said, I do not foresee this happening with any of these players.