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Transaction Analysis 3/19: Cards Option 4 Players Because Reasons

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With MLB announcing earlier this week that all spring training camps are closed and alI informal workouts are banned, I did not expect to report on any transactions for some time. Nonetheless, the Cards announced the following roster moves earlier this afternoon:

Optioned OF Austin Dean, IF Edmundo Sosa, OF Justin Williams and RHP Jake Woodford to AAA Memphis.

None of these moves were surprising in terms of roster construction, but the timing surely is. What is the point of optioning players out of a non-existent camp? Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch quoted John Mozeliak as stating that the moves were made “to be organized for any unknowns.” Apparently the moves were planned on Friday March 13th, which turned out to be the day after MLB announced that spring training was cancelled. Although the Braves optioned 2 players on that date, and players have been optioned every day since by various clubs, the Cards waited until now to make the moves.

Sosa had an outside shot to make the roster as a backup infielder, a shot which increased when Yairo Munoz left camp abruptly and was released. But for now, the Cards seem committed to the recently signed Brad Miller and Rangel Ravelo for the final bench jobs. This is Sosa’s fourth minor league option. I explained the mechanics behind the rarely exercised fourth option rule in this piece here, and as far as I can tell, no other outlet has explained that properly. If you are interested in any other reading about the fourth minor league option, you can check out this piece, where I identified and explained the circumstances behind all other Cardinal players who have had four option years. Assuming Williams spends at least 20 days on option (by rule only days spent on option during the regular season count for this purpose), this will be his final option year.

In my last transaction article, I noted the confusion behind the number of Cardinal players left in spring camp, thinking that the Cardinals might have made a mistake on Twitter, when they announced that only 57 players were left in camp. As it turned out, the Cardinals had at some prior date assigned catchers Aaron Antonini and Pedro Pages to minor league camp without officially announcing it to anyone. Hat tip to Brian Walton, who uncovered the discrepancy on his Cardinal Nation website in his roster matrix.

This set of moves leaves the Cardinals with 53 players in a non-existent camp—32 40-man roster players and 21 non-roster invitees. Considering that there will be no camp for almost two months, one wonders what the point was.