With a lot of players battling for not a lot of spots, it’s important to know which Brewers players have minor league options remaining and which do not.
One of the big factors Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns considers when looking to make an acquisition is whether or not the player still has minor league options remaining. Stearns values flexibility with his roster and having the ability to send players down to Triple-A is important.
An explanation of minor league options and who is eligible
If a player has minor league options remaining, they can be sent down to Triple-A without being taken off the 40 man roster.
If a player does not have minor league options remaining, they would have to be designated for assignment and placed on waivers before they can go down to Triple-A. That means every other team in the league will have a chance to claim that player and add him to their roster. If the player goes unclaimed, they will be outrighted.
If a player spends 20 or more days optioned down to the minors in a season, they will “burn up” that option year. They can go up and down as many times as the team wants, however. Each player gets three option years.
Any player with five years of MLB service time is no longer eligible to be optioned to the minor leagues.
Brewers players with all three (3) minor league options remaining (9)
Omar Narvaez, Devin Williams, Justin Topa, Eric Yardley, Dylan File, Mario Feliciano, Tim Lopes, Drew Rasmussen, Alec Bettinger
A number of these players with all three minor league options are the newest additions to the roster. Feliciano, File, and Bettinger were all added to the 40 man last November while Lopes was an offseason acquisition.
Rasmussen, Yardley, Topa, and Williams are all in the bullpen mix and could see themselves go up and down throughout the year with the exception of Williams who is likely to stick around all season no matter what.
Omar Narvaez still has options but as the starting catcher, he’s unlikely to have those options used.
Brewers players with two (2) minor league options remaining (11)
Keston Hiura, Luis Urias, Corbin Burnes, Josh Hader, Brent Suter, Freddy Peralta, J.P. Feyereisen, Mark Mathias, Corey Ray, Eric Lauer, Phil Bickford, Angel Perdomo
It’s probably safe to say that as long as the wheels don’t completely fall off, the group of Hiura, Urias, Burnes, Hader, Suter, and Peralta won’t see their minor league options used in 2021.
Feyereisen, Bickford, and Perdomo will likely be regular members of the shuttle back and forth between Milwaukee and Triple-A Nashville throughout the season.
Lauer is battling for a rotation spot and could stick in the bullpen if he doesn’t initially make the rotation, but could go up and down throughout the year.
Based on offseason additions, Mathias and Ray face uphill battles to make the big league roster and are likely to see an option used up this year.
Brewers players with one (1) minor league option remaining (5)
Orlando Arcia, Brandon Woodruff, Luke Maile, Tyrone Taylor, Bobby Wahl
The odds are pretty good that Woodruff’s minor league option won’t be used in 2021. Orlando Arcia is facing a tough battle for playing time but it’s not likely he’ll get sent down to the minors, at least right now it doesn’t appear that way, but the option is there if the Brewers want to use it, at least for a little while, but more on that later.
Luke Maile is at least third, possibly fourth on the Brewers depth chart at catcher. His minor league option is likely to be used and it’s partly why the Brewers signed him in the first place.
Bobby Wahl figures to be another regular rider of the Milwaukee-Nashville shuttle as part of a crowded bullpen picture.
Tyrone Taylor is in a battle for the fourth outfielder job and is likely to see his final option used this year as a couple of his competitors are already out of options.
Brewers players with no (0) minor league options remaining (8)
Daniel Robertson, Derek Fisher, Josh Lindblom, Adrian Houser, Ray Black, Jacob Nottingham, Daniel Vogelbach, Billy McKinney
Fisher and McKinney are duking it out for the backup outfielder job. Both were recent acquisitions and appear to be the frontrunners for that job and whoever loses could end up with a different organization soon.
Another player in a tough situation is Jacob Nottingham, who is out of options and is at most third on the depth chart. Unless the Brewers want to carry three catchers, which is extremely unlikely, Nottingham is facing a DFA at the end of camp, and since he hasn’t been able to get in game action since he’s still recovering from offseason thumb surgery, his situation isn’t getting better.
The Brewers could trade Nottingham at the end of camp to someone who needs a backup catcher on their big league roster, but first he’ll need to show he’s healthy.
Josh Lindblom and Adrian Houser aren’t in any danger of being removed from the big league roster.
Daniel Robertson will be in the mix at third base and can play all over the field. Not having minor league options helps his chances of making the roster.
Meanwhile, Ray Black is the only bullpen candidate who is out of minor league options. He missed most of last season with a shoulder injury and his struggles with command have continued to plague him in a Brewers uniform. Not having the minor league option may improve his chances of making the Opening Day roster, but it’s far from a guarantee.
Daniel Vogelbach is also in a tough spot. The Brewers were hoping a deal could be reached on the DH this offseason, but it appears that lineup spot won’t be available to them. With Keston Hiura now at first base, Vogelbach is relegated to bench duty. Without that DH, would the Brewers still keep him on the roster?
Players who will likely lose their minor league options by the end of the year (2)
Omar Narvaez, Orlando Arcia
As stated earlier in the article, once players reach five years of MLB service, they can no longer be optioned to the minor leagues without their consent.
Narvaez has three options but also is at 4 years and 89 days of service. 172 days constitutes a full season. So 83 days into the season, which will be around mid-late June, Narvaez will reach five total years and will no longer be able to be optioned down.
Arcia has four years and 47 days of service. So he’ll need 125 days of service this season, which he’ll reach around early August and then he’s no longer eligible to be optioned to the minors.
All Brewers option and service time information has been courtesy of Roster Resource.