Franklin Morales and Option Years

While I was continually trying to correct Tracy Ringolsby when he said Morales had option years, it turns out, per Troy Renck, that he was actually correct. Morales has an option year left, and it was used today.


Let's break it down and see if we can solve the mystery.

A player is allowed to be optioned to the minors during three seasons of his career before 5 years of MLB service time. Franklin Morales was optioned during three different seasons. Let's take a look at his transactions history after the jump.

Morales' contract was purchased (added to the 40 man roster) on August 18th, 2007. He was optioned back to the minors on August 29th (there's one year). After being recalled on September 4th, he remained active until April 29th, 2008, where he was optioned down again (there's two years). Morales did not make the team again until the start of 2009, when he was optioned back down on April 8th (there's three years). He was recalled on April 21st to make a start, but ended up injuring himself. He went on the disabled list the next day, where he remained until June 12th, when he was activated, and optioned for the second time this year to the minors. He was recalled on July 7th to enter the bullpen, where he remained the rest of the season. And the rest we know.

Clearly, there seem to be three option years burned here. There are, however, a couple of exceptions.

1. A player who has been playing professional baseball (rookie ball or higher) for less than 5 seasons before the third option is used can gain a fourth option year.

Does Morales apply? No. Frankie Mo has been playing pro ball since 2004, making 2010 his seventh pro season.

2. A player who spends less than 20 total days in the minors during a year in which he is optioned does not burn the option year.

Does Morales apply? Maybe. Initially, I saw his 2009 stats and thought this was the answer. Morales only spent 14 days in the minors in April. However, I had forgotten to include his time in June and July, after his second 2009 option. In 2009, Morales spent a total of not just 14, but 38 days in the minors. That option year counts. So does 2008, where he spent most of the season there.

So why maybe? 2007.

Morales spent a LOT more than 20 days in the minors in 2007. The entire season up until his contract purchase in fact. But notice: he spent only 4 days in the minors while on the active roster after his option.

This means that if the rule specifically means not total time in the minors period, but total time in the minors while concurrently on the 40 man roster, then Morales' 2007 option may not count.

But I am not certain that is the way the exception works.

There's my analysis. Please, add comments if you have better ideas.

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