During last night’s game, the Cardinals tweeted that they had outrighted RHP Alvaro Seijas and removed him from the Club Player Pool.
There seems to be some confusion about the actual status of Seijas and what the Cardinals actually did with him. Note that the Cardinals’ tweet did not say that the Cards designated him for assignment. A DFA is a common method clubs use to trim a player from the 40-man roster, because the DFA removes the player from the 40-man roster immediately. But a club does not have to DFA a player if it wants to remove someone. In this case, there was no corresponding roster move. As I have discussed in many articles, the Cards will have to cut several players from the 40-man roster to accommodate the players returning from the COVID-19 Related IL.
But in the case of Sanchez, with no corresponding roster move, there was no immediate need to remove him. This is why the Cards placed him on outright assignment waivers, waited the 47 hours that it takes for a player to clear waivers, then outrighted him. The outright removed him from the 40-man roster, but it just took longer than the DFA would have taken. The reason it took longer was that placing a player on outright assignment waivers does not remove the player from the 40-man. A club must place the player on waivers, wait until he clears, and then the club can outright the player. It is the outright itself that removes the player.
Thus, the Cards do not have 7 days to decide what to do with him, like with the DFA, and there is no longer any risk of losing Seijas to another organization. The club already exposed him to waivers, and he has already cleared. Seijas can’t go to another organization because he has no right to elect free agency in lieu of the outright assignment, and he will not be a Rule 55 minor league free agent at the end of this season because he hasn’t played long enough in the minor leagues.
Another twist to the transaction is that the Cards specifically announced that the club removed him from the Club Player Pool. Why? When the Cards activated Yadier Molina from the COVID-19 Related IL two days ago, that put the Cards’ Club Player Pool at 53 players, 7 short of the 60-man limit. But there are 9 more players on the COVID-19 Related IL. When all of them come back, that would put the CPP at 62, which is 2 players over the limit. This means that the Cards at some point had to remove 2 players from the CPP.
The interesting thing is that while an outright assignment does remove a player from the 40-man roster, it does not automatically remove a player from the CPP. There have been numerous transactions this year already where clubs have DFAd a player (which removes the player from both the 40-man and CPP), the player has cleared waivers, and the player has been outrighted but added back to the CPP. In those situations, the clubs have denoted the transaction as “Outrighted X player to the Alternate Training Site.” But the MLB 2020 Operations Manual does state that an outright assignment is one way to remove a 40-man roster player from the CPP, and the Cards have exercised that option. I am both surprised and impressed that the Cards reported the transaction with the level of specificity to let us know that indeed Seijas was removed from both the 40-man roster and the CPP.
If Seijas has not been sent to the Alternate Training Site, where is he going? Although the Cards’ tweet didn’t say, the official transaction page states that Seijas was outrighted to the Springfield Cardinals. He was not outrighted to the ATS, because if he was sent to the ATS, he would still be part of the CPP. From a paperwork perspective, Seijas was placed on the reserve list of AA Springfield. Where is Seijas going physically? The harsh, but best, answer was provided by reader Nate De Graaf last night in the comments to the game thread when I announced this. He said “Where does he go physically? His couch? Basically that’s correct. With no minor league season and his removal from the Club Player Pool, the Cards, for all practical purposes, sent him home to Venezuela.
The question, then, is why did the club trim Seijas off of both the 40-man roster and the CPP? He won’t turn 22 until October, he would have had 2 more minor league options after this year, and as a starter across both the Class A and Class A-Advanced levels, he struck out 114 batters to only 54 walks, and he hasn’t had any issues with home runs. I think it’s basically because the Cards are starved for roster space, they knew Seijas couldn’t possibly help the Cards this season, and Seijas was a player that they could conduct a transaction with that would help solve both their 40-man roster problem and their CPP problem.
Was it a serious risk that Seijas might have been claimed by another club? It might have been a non-trivial risk, but the Cards might have reasoned that most clubs are not necessarily thinking of the future right now. They are trying to get through this season as best they can, and either have no real 40-man roster space, or if they do, they are focusing their possible waiver claims on players that can help the clubs immediately. If a club had claimed him, they would be stashing a player on the 40-man that is probably two years away from the majors and at the time he was ready would have had maybe 1 option left. If that was the Cards’ reasoning, it turns out they reasoned right, because Seijas went unclaimed.
The Cards’ 40-man roster is now at 37, with some COVID-19 Related IL players close to returning. The CPP is 52. The Cards will still have to remove 1 player from the CPP and 6 more players from the 40-man roster. As for Seijas, he is still in the organization, and there is nothing preventing him from making a possible return to the 40-man roster at a future date if he shows the kind of promise he did last year.