What are the Options?

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

I get a number of questions about player options, particularly at this time of year when options can play big roles in Opening Day roster decisions. Before getting to that list, though, I wanted to back up for a second for those of you who don't know what in the world an option means. Here's an explanation in the most elementary terms I can come up with....

When a player is put on the 40-man roster, he is given three "options." Each of those represents a season in which a team can send (or leave) a player to the Minors without the risk of losing him to another club. When a player is using one of his option years, he can be sent up and down as many times as a team wants.

When a player has used up all three of his options, a team has to put him on waivers before being able to send him to the Minors. Putting a player on waivers risks having that player snatched up by another club.

Two other things to keep in mind. One, if a player stays in the Majors all season, he does not use up one of his options option. And two, any player that has five or more years of time in the Majors cannot be sent to the Minors without his consent, even if he does have options remaining.

OK, now that Options 101 is complete, here is a look at the Pirates 40-man roster. Those without options left are bolded. Otherwise, options remaining are in parenthesis.

Ramon Aguero (3)
Jose Ascanio
Brendan Donnelly (2)
Octavio Dotel
Zach Duke (3)
Joel Hanrahan
Kevin Hart (1)
Chris Jakubauskas (3)
Brad Lincoln (3)
Javier Lopez
Paul Maholm (3)
Daniel McCutchen (3)
Evan Meek (2)
Bryan Morris (3)
Charlie Morton (1)
Ross Ohlendorf (2)
Ronald Uviedo (2)
Donnie Veal (3)
Ryan Doumit
Jason Jaramillo (2)
Pedro Alvarez (2)
Ronny Cedeno
Jeff Clement (1)
Bobby Crosby (3)
Argenis Diaz (1)
Akinori Iwamura (3)
Andy LaRoche
Steve Pearce (1)
Ramon Vazquez
Neil Walker (2)
Ryan Church
Gorkys Hernandez (3)
Brandon Jones (1)
Garrett Jones
Andrew McCutchen (3)
Lastings Milledge
Brandon Moss
John Raynor (3)
Jose Tabata (2)
Delwyn Young

Why is all this important? Well, take the bench competition, for example. Both Young and Moss, two of those competing to make the club, are out of options. That means whoever loses out on an Opening Day roster spot can't be sent to the Minors without first having to go through waivers and risk being taken.

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