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Twins with options remaining in 2015

When it comes to making roster decisions for Opening Day, options play a significant role.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

When it came to the Minnesota Twins and handling players out of options in 2014, things didn't go so well. Heading into spring training a trio of starting pitcher candidates were sans options in Samuel Deduno, Scott Diamond, and Vance WorleyWorley was acquired by the Pirates on March 25 as the spring was drawing to a close and the Twins had to make difficult decisions; he went on to rebound with Pittsburgh by throwing 110 innings of 2.85 ERA baseball.

Diamond successfully made it through waivers and played for Minnesota's Triple-A affiliate, while Deduno actually made the opening day roster by being shunted into the bullpen. Both players made such an impression that they're no longer with the organization: Diamond was released halfway through an awful year in Triple-A while Deduno was allowed to leave during the August waiver trade period.

The team also outrighted Chris Parmelee and Alex Presley off the roster. Parmelee limped through 2014 before being being outrighted yet again, choosing free agency, but Presley was claimed and left Minnesota without a backup center fielder. The Twins lucked out in this regard, as Danny Santana, Sam Fuld, and Jordan Schafer all played baseball at an order of magnitude better than could reasonably be expected, but it's a classic example of the divide between the decision-making process and results - there isn't always the correlation you'd expect.

Oh, and Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett. But let's not go into detail there.

Why am I bringing all of that mess up again? For the purpose of context. The Twins had a number of important roster choices to make last spring, and at the heart of most of them was the issue of a player's options (or lack thereof). Now just 27 days from pitchers and catchers reporting, and 33 days from the first spring training game, it's worth reviewing players of note - whether that means they have options remaining or whether they're out.

Eduardo Nunez

Options remaining: 0
Contract Status: $1.025 million; eligible for free agency 2018

Choosing to tender Nunez a contract seems like a safe choice, but there are a couple of things to note as a result. First, it means his roster spot is likely guaranteed for opening day unless something unexpected happens. Second, while it may seem like a lazy decision it has an obvious upside in that, should someone like Eddie Rosario or Miguel Sano prove ready in the middle of the season, Nunez looks like an easy target when looking for mid-year roster space.

Had the Twins non-tendered Nunez and found themselves another utility bench option, the commitment via free agency may have made it more difficult for the team to cut ties with the player. As it stands, Nunez is inexpensive and replaceable, and on a roster that is going to need spots for young and promising players in the very near future it's a decision that makes an odd kind of sense.

Could the Twins attempt to pass him through waivers? Not unless they find another utility player for the bench, which seems unlikely at this point.

Jordan Schafer

Options remaining: 0
Contract status: $1.55 million; eligible for free agency 2017

There was some debate as to whether the team would retain Shafer, but as a fourth outfielder he's just fine. 107 good plate appearances for the Twins down the stretch in 2014 was enough to keep the organization from trying too hard to replace him. He's a competent if unspectacular fielder who is a .229/.311/.310 career hitter, so in some sense he falls into a similar category as Nunez.

Shane Robinson has an invitation to spring training as a non-roster invitee, and seems like Schafer's only competition in the early going as Byron Buxton's debut isn't likely before August (and that's if everything goes better than expected). If Robinson doesn't impress, Schafer's job will be safe and he should spend most of 2015 with the Twins provided he stays healthy and doesn't hit like he did for the Braves in the first half of 2014.

Could the Twins attempt to pass him through waivers? Only if Shane Robinson forces the team's hand.

Oswaldo Arcia

Options remaining: 1
Contract status: Eligible for arbitration 2017

Arcia was added to the 40-man roster after the 2011 season, which means he's had three years worth of options already taken up. But because he spent fewer than ten days in the minors in 2014, Major League Baseball has granted him a fourth option.

The Twins won't need it. He's a building block for the offense.

Could the Twins attempt to pass him through waivers? For what possible purpose? No.

Chris Herrmann

Options remaining: 1
Contract status: Eligible for arbitration 2017

Herrmann has appeared in 97 games for the Twins over the last three seasons, hitting .196/.264/.284 while playing right field, left field, and catcher. There's a case to be made to take Herrmann over Nunez, since technically Herrmann could catch (something the Twins looked to be steering him away from in 2014), but because Herrmann has an option remaining and Nunez was tendered a contract that would have to be the unlikely option.

As we've discussed in the past, Herrmann is the only position player currently on the 40-man roster who could be available for call-up in the first few weeks - or even months - of the 2015 campaign. That makes him valuable, and it makes his roster spot secure for the time being.

Could the Twins option him before opening day? It's overwhelmingly likely, unless someone gets hurt.

Aaron Hicks

Options remaining: 1
Contract status: Eligible for arbitration 2017

Hicks is the only Major League-ready center fielder on the roster. Jordan Schafer is correctly type-cast as a fourth outfielder; Danny Santana is a shortstop and not an outfielder; Shane Robinson is a non-roster invitee; Byron Buxton is still in the oven.

Is handing the starting job in center field to Hicks for the third year in a row the prudent thing to do? Right now the Twins don't have a great deal of choice in the matter.

Could the Twins option him before opening day? I have a hard time giving an unequivocal answer to these questions because you can't predict baseball, but no.

Lester Oliveros

Options remaining: 1
Contract status: Eligible for arbitration 2018

Three weeks ago we reviewed the Twins' candidates for the 2015 bullpen, and came to an obvious conclusion: there are roughly 13 pitchers who could realistically have a shot of a reliever's role for Minnesota from opening day. That's insane.

When it comes to Oliveros, we stashed him. He was behind "The Locks," The Stashes," "The Incumbents," and "The Major League Additions." Suffice it to say that it's an uphill battle for Oliveros, even if he throws his fastball with a higher velocity than anyone else above him on the depth chart. While he absolutely deserves an opportunity, there just aren't a great deal of ways for that opportunity to happen from opening day.

Could the Twins option him before opening day? It seems likely.

Josmil Pinto

Options remaining: 1
Contract status: Eligible for arbitration 2018

He's the backup "catcher," so...

Could the Twins option him before opening day? No.

Stephen Pryor

Options remaining: 1
Contract status: Eligible for arbitration 2017

When we ran through those bullpen options we put Pryor in the same group as Oliveros. But as "toolsy" as Pryor looks to be, his rehabilitation and his command issues keep him from being a realistic candidate to break camp with the big league club.

Could the Twins option him before opening day? They probably will. In most years that option would guarantee some level of safety for his spot on the 40-man roster, but considering guys like Nick Burdi, Zack Jones, and Jake Reed could be vying for Major League innings this year, I'm not sure Pryor's even safe in his roster spot.

Aaron Thompson

Options remaining: 1
Contract status: Eligible for arbitration 2018

The lefty had a good year in Triple-A in 2014, making 46 appearances in relief an posting a 3.98 ERA. And in his cup of coffee with the Twins in September he did very well.

But right now Thompson is buried on the depth chart behind fellow lefties Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, Caleb Thielbar, and probably Logan Darnell. Ryan O'Rourke deserves a mention, too.

Could the Twins option him before opening day? It'd be a surprise if they didn't.

Michael Tonkin

Options remaining: 1
Contract status: Eligible for arbitration 2018

With nothing left to prove in Triple-A and after having been the best relief prospect in the system who was also close to the Major Leagues, Tonkin's tag as an outsider when taking stabs at the opening day bullpen is another illustration of the strength of the competition. He's owns a 3.48 ERA in 77.2 Triple-A innings, including 82 strikeouts, 20 walks, and a 1.21 WHIP, but his Major League experience has been short and sweet so far. He was optioned during the 2013 season and again at the end of spring training last year.

Could the Twins option him before opening day? Yes, and they probably will, but he deserves an opportunity more than most.

Mike Pelfrey

Options remaining: 2
Contract status: $5.5 million; free agent 2016

When it's come to Pelfrey discussion this winter we've largely split our time covering two scenarios: one in which Pelfrey takes over Anthony Swarzak's long relief role, and one in which the Twins outright Pelfrey and pay him to not play for them. But there is a third scenario: the Twins could option Pelfrey to Triple-A.

Admittedly, this scenario gets a little dirty. If a player has more than five years' experience - and Pelfrey makes that qualification - then the player has the option of what's called Veteran's Consent. Basically, it means that a team cannot option a veteran of more than five years' experience (regardless of whether the player has options remaining) without the player's consent. Which is something that it seems Pelfrey is unlikely to give.

Which brings us back to our first two scenarios, because if the player withholds consent the team must either release him or keep him on the roster, all while the player continues to be paid as his contract stipulates.

Could the Twins option him before opening day? Unlikely. Pelfrey is a good guy and a team player, but I don't think he'd let himself be send to Triple-A.

Ryan Pressly

Options remaining: 2
Contract status: Eligible for arbitration 2017

With an ERA of 3.60 in 74 relief appearances and 105 innings over the last two years, Pressly is one of the pitchers on the inside track for those precious few available spots in the bullpen. The signing of Tim Stauffer and the selection of J.R. Graham in the Rule 5 draft means Pressly's chances are slimmer than his performance indicates it should be, but if it hasn't been made clear: the competition for jobs in the bullpen from opening day will be hotly contested.

In the end, whether or not Pressly gets a role could come down to whether or not the Twins like Graham, and - if they do - whether they like him enough to stash him in the bullpen or whether they'll work out a trade in order to send him to Triple-A. There are avenues of opportunity here, but I'm not sure the opportunity is entirely in Pressly's hands.

Could the Twins option him before opening day? Possibly.

Caleb Thielbar

Options remaining: 2
Contract status: Eligible for arbitration 2017

Thielbar, like Pressly, has put together an impressive performance for the Twins over parts of these last two seasons. He out-pitched fellow southpaw Brian Duensing, and has positioned himself into a situation where it would be a surprise if he wasn't a member of the 2015 bullpen from opening day. He may not be the most exciting reliever on the roster, but he's been effective against Major League hitting over 93.2 innings between 2013 and 2014.

Could the Twins option him before opening day? Sure, but probably not.

Is there anyone on the bubble that I'm forgetting? Let me know in the comments, and I'll do my best to get you answers on how many options they have remaining.