40-Man and Playoff Roster Concerns

40-Man and Playoff Roster Concerns

With today’s news that Rio Ruiz was called up and Chris Stewart was designated for assignment, it got me curious about a few things.

#1 – If the Braves want a third catcher for September, the DFA of Stewart is interesting. While third catchers who are Quad-A quality are a dime a dozen, keeping someone who has caught many of the Braves pitchers seems reasonable. There’s a little more here as well. Under normal circumstances, even if Stewart does pass through waivers and accepts his outright to Gwinnett (all likely), he would have to go down to the minors for ten days. But there is kind of an exception and we saw it in 2013. That season, Evan Gattis was demoted to Gwinnett on August 31. He was brought back September 3rd. Why? Because the Gwinnett season had ended on September 2. This season, it ends on September 3.

You might say “he’s just a third catcher and he won’t even be on the postseason roster!” And that’s fair to a point. The Braves are not likely to keep a third catcher on a playoff roster, but if the Braves suffer an injury to either Kurt Suzuki or Tyler Flowers that would take them out for a playoff series, they’d want a replacement. Stewart, because he’s in the Braves’ organization on August 31, could be added to the roster.

#2 – If Stewart is brought back on September 4 at the latest, that takes up one of the now two open spots on the 40-man roster. Brandon McCarthy, who is looking to return to the Braves next month as a reliever, threw a scoreless inning of relief last night. McCarthy, who is currently on the 60-day DL, would need to be re-added to the 40-man to rejoin the Braves. That would give us 40 players.

But there’s more. We not only saw McCarthy throw out of the bullpen last night with Gwinnett, but another starter made his first appearance in the pen this season: Kyle Wright. He tossed a one-hit frame with a strikeout six days after throwing seven innings in a start against Buffalo. The Braves could be limiting Wright’s innings – he’s up to 136 on the year – or they could be prepping him for a move to the bullpen in September. While last night was Wright’s first official relief appearance, he notably came out of the pen in the 8th inning of this year’s Futures Game. With a three-run lead and runners on the corners, Wright got a shallow flyout and a double play to skate through the damage. Could the Braves unleash Wright in September in a similar role?

To do so would require a subsequent transaction if Stewart and McCarthy are both added to the major league roster. There’s another name we should mention – Ryan Flaherty. He passed through waivers and was sent to Gwinnett this week, but seems like a shoe-in to be brought back up in September.

There are three major league veterans who seem likely to be brought back at some point after the calendar switches to September. And here’s where we start to get a little complicated because, for the first time in years, the 40-man roster is looking more and more stocked with high-end talent. Even guys like Luke Jackson (3.48 FIP, 11.8 K/9) are staking their claim to a spot. And while many Braves fans would simply point to Sam Freeman and Peter Moylan as obvious pitchers to send packing, the Braves had many opportunities to remove them from the equation and have refused. Would they do it now?

Barring a trade before the waiver-deal deadline on Friday, the Braves are going to have to find some room on the 40-man for at least the veterans guys and potentially Wright, Corbin Clouse, and Austin Riley. And if not Freeman or Moylan, who gets kicked to the curb?

Probably Wes Parsons and Adam McCreery. Parsons has been up three times this season, though he only worked one ugly game of relief. Parsons has been pretty good at the minor league level, though. That’s nothing new as Parsons has an ERA around 3.00 in over 200 innings the last two years. Is Parsons a big arm? Hardly, but rarely has he not been productive. It would be of little shock to see a team claim Parsons.

Same applies for McCreery, though he’s more of a project. He was somewhat surprisingly added to the 40-man roster last winter for Rule 5 purposes. He, too, has pitched just a game in the majors, giving up two runs and striking out a pair in an inning of work. Acquired from the Angels back in 2016, no one doubts that McCreery has the stuff – he has 90 minor league strikeouts this season in 62.1 ING. The bigger question is where he’ll be able to control it well enough to be effective. At Age-25, the leash isn’t quite as long as it once was.

There’s another potential problem here. Should the Braves add Wright or Riley, they would be making the same decision they made with Bryse Wilson. That is: adding a player to the 40-man roster before needing to in order to protect them from the Rule 5. That certainly shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but it will make the Braves have to make additional decisions with their roster that could force them to lose some good depth options.

Consider that the Braves only have seven unrestricted free agents after the 2018 season comes to a close. Not counting McCarthy, they have five players on the 60-day DL they would need to add back to the 40-man roster. Of those five, at least three seem like slam-dunk options (Jacob Lindgren, Darren O’Day, Mike Soroka). Grant Dayton is more of a bubble guy while Jose Ramirez would likely be cast away. In addition to these guys, there’s a crop of players who will be eligible for the Rule 5 without being added to the 40-man. Two names on that list stick out – Alex Jackson and Patrick Weigel. And with a lot of potential payroll space, the Braves will want to add to the roster as well.

Last February, we talked about the 40-man roster crunch. It’s coming. Still want to be a major league general manager? Like I said, concerns after the season shouldn’t be a deal breaker if the Braves believe Wright or Riley can help the team now. But certainly, those issues need to be given at least an ounce of consideration.

The Braves farm system has been envied throughout baseball the last couple of seasons. It’s about to create some really difficult decisions for Alex Anthopoulos, but decisions he would rather make than bringing up the likes of Ryan Weber to fill in.


Nice writeup as always, Thomas.

I’m intrigued as well to see how the Braves are going to handle the roster down the stretch. Over at OFR, there was a light discussion about the return of McCarthy and Moylan and how some didn’t want them back this season and how others saw the benefit of having them eat non-contested innings down the stretch. The 40-man roster implications weren’t part of the discussion, though. At least not in-depth as your post illustrates. I see the value of bringing Chris Stewart back if we’re able. Not only would it allow us to rest Flowers and Suzuki down the stretch, it would also allow for Snitker to utilize them off the bench as pinch-hit options late in games knowing he’ll have a third catcher for an emergency situation.

For funsies, let’s play make believe for a second. Say McCarthy and Stewart are added back to the 40-man roster. As you’ve noted, this obviously fills the 40-man, preventing the Braves from adding someone like Kyle Wright for an extra arm out of the pen through the stretch run. However, this is assuming everyone’s healthy and coming back. Perhaps convenient injury setbacks arise for someone already on the DL? Say….Shane Carle goes out on his supposed rehab assignment this week and the shoulder still doesn’t “feel right”. Or he exhausts his rehab assignment….but he doesn’t look right for whatever reason. His fastball lost a tick. He cutter isn’t cutting. His left testicle retracts into his body and won’t drop back out. Couldn’t he just be bumped to the 60-day DL since he’s been out for longer than that anyway to buy the Braves some time to make a more permanent move or wait for a legitimate injury? I mean…if the Braves REALLY want to see Wright or utilize him out of the bullpen life will find a way, won’t it?

As far as the future roster crunch heading into the offseason and beyond. I see the issue and in the past we’ve discussed these types of situations before whether it be about a real MLB team or an hypothetical situation for an OOTP universe. These things tend to work themselves out as well. You end up utilizing some of that extreme depth in trades to improve the big league club. You keep some of it for yourself and replenish the big club. Then you face the music on some of the other borderline talent that you sorta like, but don’t love…because if you really loved them, you’d have found a way to either keep them, or they’d have so much value that you’d be able to consolidate a few of them into a bigtime acquisition.

When I look at the current crop of guys on the 40-man, I see a tremendous amount of talent…yes. There’s even more on the way that will need to be protected as you point you, Thomas. However, the time is swiftly approaching where we’ll have to utilize some of this talent to acquire parts and pieces we will need. AA’s done a fine job of not sacrificing those pieces thus far for rental parts and averageness. Here’s hoping that when he finally does have to relent, he won’t pigeon-hole himself into having to give them up at discounted prices.

Post-thought fact check…

Carle’s only been out about a few weeks. Seemed like longer. Probably should’ve been disabled longer ago when he first felt numbness in his hand.

But yeah…the concept is still my thought process. Carle could conveniently suffer a “setback” of some sort like the aforementioned retracted testicle and be forced to the 60-day DL if the Braves really intend to purchase Wright’s contract.

Agree that it is a good article. I just counted and there are 38 spots on the 40-man in use. So that leaves two spots for newly added folks. That’s good. Let’s look at who might need to be added to the 40-man in terms of priority. I will put them in order of what I perceive as the Braves’ priority might be. I welcome all disagreements and alternatives.
1. McCarthy
2. 3rd catcher (Stewart/Jackson – my preference being Jackson as he will need to be added over the winter)
3. Ryan Flaherty
4. Austin Riley
5. Kyle Wright
6. Jacob Webb (don’t see Clouse on the roster at GW or MS)
7. Carlos Franco? Phil Gosselin?

Don’t expect to see anyone from MS as they look like they may make the SL playoffs.

So, with that, the two open spots should go to McCarthy and 3rd catcher unless AA pulls off a trade in the next couple of days. We have a large number of excellent pitchers already on the 40-man to be called up. If it is essential that we call up Riley, Wright, and/or Webb then there will have to be as many as 4 players outrighted off the 40-man. So the next list would have the most likely guys to DFA in order. This is my order as opposed to what the org might think and it, too, will likely be the subject of much disagreement.
1. Peter Moylan
2a. Ricardo Sanchez
2b. Dustin Peterson
3. Sam Freeman
4. McCreery? Parsons?

Unless someone thinks the org will punt on Freeman (I would prefer they do but doesn’t seem likely), the second guy that is likely to be DFA’d would be a legitimate prospect that should be kept in the org. Maybe they might go the McCreery or Parsons route, but they saved McCreery last year and both have been tested at the MLB level so I don’t see them going. It’s be awfully hard to give up on Sanchez at 21. At any rate, comparing the above lists make it seem very unlikely that we will see either Riley or Wright, especially Wright. I think the addition of Bryse made both Riley’s and Wright’s addition very unlikely.

Note that, over the winter, I expect things to change greatly. I believe we will trade multiple prospects, some from the 40-man, for a huge upgrade like Realmuto and there will also be a few non-tenders that will ease the 40-man crunch.

While I have some ideas of what I’d like to see The Braves do regarding specific players being called up in September…the bottom line is that it’s hella tough to predict what AA’s plan is going to be heading into The 2018 Free Agent Offseason. Is he going to package players to get a controllable/relatively young offensive player (like a JT Realmuto or a Christian Yelich-like outfielder) and/or Ace (like Jacob deGroom, Madison Bumgarner)? OR…is AA going to use the upcoming Free Agent Offseason to fill get HUGE IMPACT PLAYERS (like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Craig Kimbrel, etc.)?

If I had a sense of the ‘direction’ he was itching to go…then I could make some logical narrowed down hypothetical scenarios!

Chances are, unless a rash of injuries occur to our relievers….Kyle Wright wont be put on The 40 man roster until sometime in 2019. Since Bryce Wilson and Tooki Tousiant are already on The 40 Man Roster…I’d like to see BOTH called up by August 31st..and inserted onto The 25 Man Roster (and playoff eligible). Both have ‘swing and miss’ stuff AND can pitch multiple innings in a pinch if need be.

August 31st Playoff Eligible Pitching Staff:

Starting Pitching:

1. Folty
2. Newcomb
3. Gausman
4. Sanchez
5. Teheran

1. Minter
2. Brach
3. Venters
4. Winkler
5. Biddle
6. Wilson
7. Tooki
8. Max Fried

However, I already know that there is no way that AA is going to drop Luke Jackson, Sam Freeman from the 25 man Roster (I can see him demoting Chad Sobotka, whose already showing signs of being lit up lately..giving up LONG home runs in his last 2 appearances…while walking the bases loaded 3 appearances ago). Also, I know that Snitker has ‘a lot of love’ for Peter Moylan, Brandon McCarthy and Shane Carle.

McCarthy is going to retire after this season ends anyway! He has NO FUTURE in Atlanta. I dont want to see him added to the 40 man roster…and I’d rather see Moylan either put on the 60-Day DL or DFAed! McCarthy is very hittable…I’d rather see Kyle Wright added to the 40 man..than McCarthy!

Carle had a nice 1st half run…however he’s been a journeyman pitcher for a reason..and his ‘smoke and mirrors’ approach has been figured out by MLB.

I know that Max Fried keeps getting starts in MILB..however he simply has been unable to stay healthy for any kind of extended period in his career. Why no utilize him in an Andrew Miller-like role out of the bullpen? He’s not a 100 pitch type of guy. Let him AIR IT OUT/use that nasty curve against lefties in high leverage situations.

As far as position players, not much to pick from at AAA. Austin Riley would be a nice September power bat to have available to pinch hit. Chris Stewart has MLB experience/is the better defensive catcher than Alex Jackson. Dustin Peterson could provide some September outfield depth.

I’m hoping that AA has a trade in the works to provide a left handed bench bat before August 31st. I cant imagine that AA would be willing to go into The Playoffs…with Rio Ruiz as the main lefty option on the bench! That makes LITTLE SENSE to me!

I personally think AA will do both of what you suggest – trade for an upgrade and sign a big FA. I think we have enough latitude in salary structure and overlapping prospects to do one of each. However, there aren’t that many valuable players available in trade especially if the Mets won’t trade pitchers (without exacting a large overpayment). Realmuto is likely the best bet and is worth an overpay himself. That not only relieves the 40-man issue but also solves a roster issue (catcher).

There are quite a few intriguing FAs out there. I believe that Harper is better for us than Machado (no one will get both). We fills a need in the OF. After that, Grandal would be Plan B at catcher and AJ Pollock for the OF.

There is really only one pitcher that can be characterized as an “ace” that will be available (I agree that Kershaw is not aging well) and that is Patrick Corbin. I don’t really think we need an ace; Folty is very close to being one and we have others with ace potential in the org. We also don’t really need a closer as Minter and Viz can share that role and both Brach and Winkler can back them up (if Brach is resigned).

I liked the Duvall trade because it not only freed up roster resources but it also filled an area of need – either OF or bench bat. Lonnie Chisenhall would be a great LH bench bat.

A couple of points to add. Carle is not a “journeyman”; he is a rookie this year and one of the best performing rookies in the league. He’s a keeper.

And Fried is a starter with ace-like stuff. He has not performed well in a relief role and has performed as well as any and better than most as a starter. If Teheran is traded, which I think is a must (hopefully to be included in a deal for Realmuto) then we have two spots in the rotation next year (Folty, Gausman, and Newk are locks) and at least five guys to fill them – Soroka, Fried, Touki, Wilson, Gohara – that are already on the 40-man roster (or will be when Soroka comes off the 60-day over the winter). At least one or two will have to be included in the big trade (Realmuto) and it might not be a bad idea to go to a 6-man rotation either.

Paul, players only have to be on the 40-man to be playoff eligible. Touki and Bryse are already playoff eligible and can be called up after Sept 1st.

Roger is correct. Further, with commissioner approval, a player who isn’t on the 40-man roster, but is in the organization as of the end of August 31 can replace a player on the postseason roster if an injury occurs (not limited to position). Really, the biggest date to keep in mind is August 31. If Wright isn’t added to the 40-man roster by then, it might be a little difficult to get him into the playoff roster, but certainly not impossible.

Tommy…if Tooki, Wilson and Wright are not on The 25 Man Roster by August 31st…I seriously doubt that The Commissioner is going to approve ALL THREE being on The Post Season Roster (UNLESS The Braves get A LEGIT, SHITTY RUN of injured relievers between Sept 1st and the end of the season).

In other words, if Sam Freeman, Luke Jackson and Chad Sobotka are all on The 25 Man Roster the morning of Sept 1st….all three would have to be LEGITIMATELY INJURED before The Commish is going to allow all three to be replaced by Tooki, Wilson and Wright.

A team may be able to ‘squeeze’ one player in for an ‘injured’ player…however not all three (especially given that The Braves are one year removed from The Commish coming down HELLA HARD on The Braves for ‘gaming The System’ in a number of ways).

I’ve been watching MLB for a long time. I’m well aware of players previously not on The 25 Man Roster on Sept. 1st….becoming Post Season eligible because of an injury. I’m saying that if The Braves do not have Tooki, Wilson and Wright on The 25 Man Roster come Sept. 1st….they BETTER have their ducks lined up when it comes to being able to verify to The Commish that three replacements have to be made to The 25 Man Roster because of injuries!

You misunderstand us. A player only needs to be on the 40-man roster as of August 31 to be eligible for the postseason. They do not have to be on the 25-man roster. This applies to Bryse Wilson and Touki Toussaint, both of which are already on the 40-man roster and would be eligible. As for Kyle Wright – and to an extent, Ryan Flaherty and Chris Stewart – that’s when we get into a more grey area, though baseball has rarely denied a team from putting a player on the postseason roster as long as they were in the organization.

For more – http://m.mlb.com/glossary/transactions/postseason-eligibility

Tommy…again, I’m aware of players not being on The 25 Man Roster on September 1st…being picked for Post Season Rosters.

I’m saying that there is a difference between adding ‘one player’ who wasnt…and potentially adding 3 players who werent UNLESS they were legitimately injured.

For it to make sense for The Braves to add Tooki, Wilson and Wright (all three) to The Post Season Roster (assuming that NEITHER are on The 25 Man Roster come Sept. 1st)…they will basically have to ‘hope’ that Sam Freeman, Luke Jackson and Chad Sobotka all “get injured” by the end of the season (if Minter, Venters, Brach, and Winkler get injured instead…The Braves are going to have a hard time this Post Season).

Let’s see how AA decides to play this the night of August 31st.

Again, you’re not reading this very carefully. You don’t have to be on the 25-man roster on August 31 to be postseason-eligible. Anyone – including those currently in the minors – who are on the 40-man roster on August 31 are eligible for the postseason. What you are talking about is replacing someone who is currently on the 40-man roster with a player not on the 40-man roster because of an injury. So, no, you don’t have to hope for a rash of injuries to get Touki Toussaint or Bryse Wilson on a postseason roster. They would already be eligible. Kyle Wright, Ryan Flaherty, and Chris Stewart are different if the Braves want to add them to a playoff roster as neither would be playoff-eligible.

I still have hope Touki and Wilson can eat some big playoff innings….maybe even wright. 27 wins and Phil’s losses to go……

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