Ah, yes, minor league options. One of the harder to understand "rules" of the game for fans that are newer to the baseball scene.
Before we continue, let me break down exactly what minor league options are to better your understandings of the rule.
Any player on the 40-man roster of any given club is given three minor league options. An option allows a player to be demoted to the minor leagues without his having to be placed on waivers first and risk the optioning team losing said player. Typically, players that get optioned remain on the 40-man, but are no longer a part of the active 26-man roster.
Once said player accrues five years of big league service time, they are no longer allowed to be sent down to the minor leagues without their consent. On the current Blue Jays roster, this applies to George Springer, Matt Chapman, Whit Merrifield, Kevin Kiermaier, Yimi García, Anthony Bass, Kevin Gausman, Chris Bassitt, Hyun Jin Ryu and José Berríos.
So, which Blue Jays players have no options remaining? Let's check them out.
Richards, 29, is a starter-turned-long reliever who has been in Toronto for each of the past two seasons after beginning his career with the Marlins, Rays and Brewers.
Over the course of his Blue Jays career, he is 7-4 in 94 appearances (with four "starts" as an opener) with a 4.66 ERA and an 88 ERA+, nothing to write home about.
With the upcoming roster move needing to be made to fit both Kiermaier and Bassitt on the 40-man roster, Richards is a candidate to be exposed to waivers since he has not performed well with the Jays and cannot be sent down to the minor leagues.
Widely expected to be in a competition with Yusei Kikuchi for the fifth starter role in Spring Training, White is in a similar boat than Richards is but he's not a lock to be removed from the 40-man in favor of Kiermaier and Bassitt.
Yes, his 7.74 ERA with the Jays last year is completely unacceptable, but once you look a little bit closer, maybe he isn't as bad as his ERA suggests. For instance, his FIP, which takes the fielders' performances behind a pitcher out of the equation, was only 3.76 for the Jays which is actually a solid number. He also did well at limiting the longball last year, surrendering only three home runs in 43 innings as a Blue Jay.
Merryweather has appeared in each of the past three seasons for the Jays and also has yet to show any real promise out of the big league bullpen.
Across 47 appearances and just over 52 innings, he is 0-4 with a 5.64 ERA and 4.36 FIP with an ERA+ of just 75 over that time.
Of the three pitchers out of minor league options, Merryweather seems likeliest to go since he has had multiple chances in the bigs and hasn't contributed like the club would like him to.
Otto López and Thomas Hatch are two of the only players on the 40-man with just one minor league option remaining. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Erik Swanson are the only other two, but they will not be spending any time in the minors in 2023. It will be interesting to see how López and Hatch are handled in the upcoming campaign.