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The Arizona Diamondbacks are out of options

Well, some of them. These are the men for whom it’s an Opening Day roster spot... or, maybe, good bye. Will they stay or will they go?

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MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Figuring out which players are out of minor-league options is a notoriously fraught process, with the official data not being publicly available. The information here comes from the MLB Trade Rumors article on the topic, and should likely be considered the best guess available, until proven otherwise. In particular, there’s still some uncertainty as to whether Socrates Brito is also out. From what I can see, his three option years were used up as follows:

  • March 20, 2015 - Arizona Diamondbacks optioned CF Socrates Brito to Mobile BayBears.
  • April 18, 2016 - Arizona Diamondbacks optioned CF Socrates Brito to Reno Aces.
  • June 11, 2017 - Arizona Diamondbacks optioned CF Socrates Brito to Reno Aces.

Having spent more than 20 days in the minors each time, I’d think he should be done. While there may be something I missed, I’ve gone ahead and included him below. Otherwise, per MLBTR: “The following 40-man roster players have less than five years service time and are out of minor league options. That means they must clear waivers before being sent to the minors.” Here are the men they list for the Diamondbacks: let’s take a look as to what the next month or so might hold for them.

Brad Boxberger

Seems virtually certain to make the Opening Day bullpen, though the question of his role there still remains to be decided. I tend to think he’ll be this year’s version of Fernando Rodney, and will start the year as the Diamondbacks’ closer: Archie Bradley is more valuable throwing multiple high-leverage innings before the ninth, and Yoshihisa Hirano needs to prove himself against major-league hitters first. Boxberger’s 44 career MLB saves are the most any of the candidates have to offer, and providing his health holds up - he had been a little slow out of the gates this spring, due to “general soreness”, likely represents the best option for Arizona.

Socrates Brito

There was a time when Brito looked poised to become at least Arizona’s fourth outfielder. As a 23-year-old rookie, he appeared in 40 games for the Diamondbacks in 2016. But the new front-office seemed to forget about him entirely in 2017. The team started 11 different outfielders, but there still wasn’t any room for Brito, with Rey Fuentes apparently taking the playing time. The arrival of Jarrod Dyson and Steven Souza this off-season have pushed Socrates further down the depth chart. At this point, seeing him on the Opening Day roster would mean something has gone very wrong higher up it, probably requiring some kind of terrible accident involving the D-backs’ team bus.

Chris Herrmann

It’s now a matter of record the weight which was pressing down on Herrmann’s shoulders for much of 2017, perhaps helping explain his disappointing season [though against that, he was still batting only .155 on June 6, the day his wife’s ultrasound exposed the medical issue in question. So he may be right not to make it an excuse] But he seems certain to stick around, not least because his ability to be our third catcher will allow the team to pinch-hit for Jeff Mathis in the late innings, without fear of exposure. But as a left-handed bat, he offers a platoon possibility elsewhere too: worth remembering he started 17 times in left. Against righties, we could see an all-lefty outfield of Herrmann/Dyson/Peralta.

T.J. McFarland

Like Herrmann, there was some surprise when the team opted to retain the services of McFarland for 2018. He posted an ERA of 5.33, was almost a full win below replacement level by bWAR, and gave the team one of their worst starts ever in Minnesota. But the team clearly saw enough to re-sign him, and that alone suggests he won’t be exposed to waivers this month. Maybe it was McFarland’s FIP, a much better 4.10. Or perhaps it was his stellar GB/FB rate of 2.13: this was the highest in the NL last year by anyone with 40+ innings. Second-best, back on 1.79? Some guy you might have heard of: Brad Ziegler. He’ll earn $9 million next year; McFarland less than one-tenth of that.

John Ryan Murphy

The team traded for Murphy at the trade deadline last year, sending pitching prospect Gabriel Moya to the Twins. But there was never a spot for him the rest of the season, Murphy making exactly one start during his month on the roster in September. Little has changed in 2018. It’s hard to see how Murphy, who has a stellar defensive reputation, particularly as a pitch-framer, will be able to claim a roster spot, especially since the signing of Alex Avila over the winter. Murphy’s career 69 OPS+ is not good, though it is still better than Mathis’s 52. There’s a chance he might end up making it through waivers, and he can then be stashed in Reno alongside Cody Decker as catching depth.

Albert Suarez

A Rule 5 pick from the Giants in December, Suarez would have to be offered back to San Francisco if he is not kept on the roster this year. At the start of spring training, with a host of more experienced bullpen arms having been signed, that seemed likely to happen before Opening Day. But the ongoing health concerns about Randall Delgado, who is dealing with a left oblique strain, provide Suarez with a potential life-line. With a series of longer outings this pre-season, the D-backs appear to be looking at him as a potential replacement for Delgado, who has still to appear in the Cactus League. With experience in both the rotation and bullpen, he could also be a potential sixth starter.