Mar 16, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez (33) walks through dugout during the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves Out of options, out of town?

Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

One of baseball’s rules on how players are handled has to do with options. Because of the phrase “out of options”, many fans assume there are a limited number of times that a player can be sent between the majors and minors. That’s not true. There are limited YEARS that a player may be optioned, but he could be optioned every other day during one of his option years without breaking any rules. Once a player is put on the 40-man roster, that player has 3 option years to utilize (with some exceptions to be granted a 4th option season).

Toward the end of spring training, you often see a number of these players who are “out of options” traded because if they are attempted to be sent to the minors, they have to pass through waivers first. In this piece, we’re going to look first at the Braves’ guys who are in this condition and their chances on making the Braves’ roster. Secondly, we’ll look at those players in the same situation for other teams that could be of interest to the Braves. For a whole list of players who are out of options in 2014, check out MLB Trade Rumors’ list.

Braves players out of options

Cory Gearrin – Gearrin in my mind has been poorly used for his skillset. His skills indicate a high ability to be a ROOGY who comes into games to face right-handed batters. He has a sterling .212/.322/.282 line vs. RHB in his career, but those numbers go to .313/.404/.485 vs. LHB. This is not uncommon for a pitcher with a lower arm slot like Gearrin has. Think of Peter Moylan for how Gearrin could be very effectively used in a modern bullpen. Gearrin is very likely not going to make the Braves roster, barring a last-minute injury issue in the bullpen, so we may see him moved before the season.

David Carpenter – After a tremendous 2013, Carpenter is assured a place on the team.

Ramiro Pena – Before his injury in 2013, Pena was showing himself to be even more than the Braves had hoped when acquiring him before the season on a major league deal. Pena has the ability to defensively handle 2B/3B/SS, and even if his bat isn’t quite to 2013 levels, that could be very valuable. Currently, he’s expected to make the roster, but with Tyler Pastornicky providing similar value, a team offering a low-level prospect may be able to acquire Pena.

Jordan Schafer – While he blocks one of my favorites, Todd Cunningham, from making the roster, Schafer is nearly guaranteed a bench spot due to his ability to play a very solid center field.

Anthony Varvaro – Right now, Varvaro is likely to parlay his solid 2013 into the final bullpen spot. He’s got a very heavy fastball that leads to a ton of ground balls. It is concerning that his K/9 rate dropped to 5.3 in 2013, but at this point, he’s likely to be the last guy in the bullpen for the 2014 Braves.

Guys who may be of interest and in doubt of making their current team’s roster

Randall Delgado, Arizona – The former Braves farmhand is more likely to make the rotation now with the reports about Patrick Corbin having ligament damage, but if superprospect Archie Bradley beats out Delgado for the opening day rotation, he might be a good target for the back of the Braves rotation, especially as guys like Mike Minor and Ervin Santana get ready to return in mid-April.

Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland – Carrasco could be part of the Cleveland bullpen as he gets his feet back under him after surgery in 2012 kept him out until late in 2013. He’s the type of starter perfect for the back of the rotation when healthy – can flash high-end performances, but seems to put up 5+ innings each time out to keep innings off of the bullpen arms.

Scott Diamond, Sam Deduno, and Vance Worley, Minnesota – The Twins have a glut of pitchers competing for the 5th spot in their rotation, and none of the above may actually win that spot, meaning all three could be available in trade. None is really anything of long-term value for the team like Delgado or Carrasco could possibly bring, but they could hold the fort for 2014 for the Braves.

El Fine

Usually guys without options that get sent down aren’t the best players out there, but a lot of times a team could have a heavy amount of solid pieces at a position that you’re short on. A couple of years ago, this led to the acquisition of Juan Francisco to be able to fill in time when Chipper Jones wasn’t able to go. These sort of deals will start popping up throughout baseball, and if the Braves aren’t sure how Hale/Garcia can hold up the back-end of the rotation, don’t be surprised if they jump into talks about one of the guys mentioned above.

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