To play in the majors on a team’s 25-man roster, a player must be placed on his team’s official 40-man roster. Once he is added, a team has three option years on that player. A player is considered to have used one of those three option years when he spends at least 20 days in the minors in any of those three seasons. For fantasy players making roster decisions on draft day, minor league options are continuously overlooked. If a player is out of options and management doesn’t want to lose him to waivers before he is sent down again, they will hold him and ship off the guy who still has options left. Understanding who has and doesn’t have options has always been an edge late in drafts. The expansion of big-league rosters to 29 players helps those players on the bubble.
While many clubs will use those extra roster spots for pitching depth, the second base job in Oakland is a perfect example of how this rule can help in fantasy. Tony Kemp, Jorge Mateo and Franklin Barreto had been battling for the job all spring and each guy has his merits. Kemp has solid speed and plays the outfield as well. Mateo has better speed and is strong defensively while Barreto, who is also solid defensively, has the best power of the group. But none of the three has a minor league option left.
Before all this COVID-19 craziness, it looked as if Barreto had the upper hand and Oakland might lose one, if not both, of Kemp and Mateo. The roster expansion could save all three jobs now and the A’s will have more time to decide. As a fantasy player, it is important for you to see who else could stay in the big leagues and help your team in the first month of the season, whenever that may be.
The Red Sox were looking at Kevin Pillar for their outfield while waiting for Alex Verdugo to get healthy. Now they can use both. The Royals can give Bubba Starling a longer look without sacrificing Alex Gordon, the Indians can keep Zach Plesac up to support a decision to use Aaron Civale in the rotation and the Padres should be able to hold both Brian Dozier and Greg Garcia.
Word is there will still be a small “spring training” during which managers will ultimately be able to make their decisions, but the expanded rosters should ease their burden while simultaneously increasing the player pool for fantasy. Know your roster depth and you should come out on top this season.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at Fantasy-Alarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 5-7 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy baseball advice.