Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

How does Sammy Solis still have an option?


Solis may have another option year that I didn't know about.  Photo via Natsinsider blog/Mark Zuckerman

Solis may have another option year that I didn’t know about. Photo via Natsinsider blog/Mark Zuckerman

My internal notes have Sammy Solis as being a lock for the 2018 roster because he was Out of Options.  In fact, this topic came up again recently in the comments when I posted quickie predictions of the opening day roster.

But, a posting today from MLB Trade Rumors doesn’t list him as being one of the Nationals’ “out of options” players, and a quick glance over at BP’s Roster Resource currently has Solis in the AAA team with an option remaining.

So, how did I have this wrong for so long?

Here’s the relevant transactions for Solis in his career related to options:

  • Drafted in 2010
  • Added to 40-man in Nov 2013 ahead of the 2013 Rule-5 draft.
  • Spent the entire 2014 season in the Minors; option #1.
  • Was up and down several times in 2015 season, including the entire month of June and again in August.  Option #2.
  • 2016; this is the iffy year because the first two option years are pretty clear.  So Lets look at his 2016 movement. I use ESPN’s transaction list as reference:
    – March 14th: Solis optioned to AAA
    – April 27th: Solis recalled from AAASo. A Minor league option is burned as per this quote: “When a player is optioned to the Minors for a span of more than 20 days, he loses an option.”  This quote is as per

    3/14 to 4/27 is definitely more than 20 days, but honestly its about when the season starts. So in 2016, the Nats played their first game on April 4th.   4/4 to 4/27 is STILL more than 20 days.

    So therefore, I had thought he burned an option in 2016. Just barely … but he did.  Is “20 days” actually “20 GAMES?”  Is that the distinction?  I also know an option can be cancelled if a player is called back up for injury purposes; I notice that on that same day 4/27/16 the nats assigned Matt Belisle to the D/L … is this what cancelled Solis’ 2016 option?  It might very well be.

Either that or he got a 4th option granted for some reason (his TJ surgery?).

Nonetheless, this options situation is great for the team in terms of roster flexibility … not so great for Solis, because he may very well be one of the 7 best relievers but now may be odd man out in April thanks to this roster quirk.  But it does give us a bit of context to help do roster prediction analysis the rest of this spring…


Written by Todd Boss

March 12th, 2018 at 3:17 pm

17 Responses to 'How does Sammy Solis still have an option?'

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  1. Count 19 days backwards from April 27, 2017. Care to guess now when was the first game played by the Chiefs?

    Luke Erickson

    13 Mar 18 at 6:08 am

  2. Kolko said on the Sunday broadcast that Solis has “4th option,” so presumably he was granted one. FWIW, in her write-up yesterday, Chelsea Janes said that internally, the club likes Solis over Grace and Romero. Romero has not been good this spring, and Janes said that they’re stretching out Grace, presumably to be Ollie’s replacement as the long man.


    13 Mar 18 at 9:44 am

  3. While we’re at it, let’s talk bullpen. Some interesting things could happen here. Let’s assume a standard bullpen of seven guys, and that Doolittle, Madson, and Kintzler are locks. Here are the possibilities for the four remaining slots:

    RH: Kelley, Benoit, Cole (if not 5th starter), Adams, Gott (I’m assuming Glover will be on the DL)

    LH: Solis, Romero, Grace, Collins (Bryan Harper hasn’t been good enough to get into the conversation)

    Guys on 40-man without options: Kelley, Benoit, Cole, Romero, Grace

    Assumptions: Kelley very likely has a spot, and they’ll likely take at least two LHP.

    Don’t sleep on: Adams and Collins, both of whom have been good thus far in the spring. If Adams can limit the walks, he could be dominant.


    13 Mar 18 at 10:16 am

  4. Benoit is giving up rockets to AAA guys. Not good.


    13 Mar 18 at 9:51 pm

  5. A few random notes:

    — Davey told a press gaggle this afternoon that the 5th starter race is still up for grabs.

    — Kevin Long said during the telecast tonight that Eaton, Taylor, and Zim have all been getting a lot of ABs in minor-league games. That’s good to hear, but we’re also less than three weeks from opening day, so we’ll have to see when they show up in the “real” games.

    — Boz made a couple of interesting points in his chat yesterday about how the current FA market might affect the futures of a couple of Nats. I think he’s spot-on in thinking that there’s now no way the Nats pick up the $18M option for Zim for 2020 after seeing the bottom drop out of the market for 1Bs. You know Zim will want to stay here, but how low is he willing to go? This is a market where there was almost nothing for Moose, Morrison, and Lind.

    Also, Boz thinks that what happened *should* make Harper more willing to listen to a more reasonable extension offer, maybe in the 10/$300M range. He’s not sure that it will, but he thinks that it should. I’ve been saying all along that the supposed market for his mega deal is very small, and even smaller after the Yanks got Stanton.


    13 Mar 18 at 10:36 pm

  6. I think Boz is premature with that conclusion. Superstars will always get paid. If Bryce is healthy and his productive self, $400m is still in play. If he misses 40 games again, then it’s out.

    I do wonder if it makes a Rendon extension more likely though. 6/$120m might seem like too good to pass up, and that would be money well spent for the Nats. Turner too might be willing to go long.


    15 Mar 18 at 6:58 am

  7. I disagree, Wally. Remember that Bryce’s $400M ask was jaw-droppingly enormous even before the bottom fell out of the FA market this offseason. No way he gets it now, particularly since the Yankees are out of the picture with their overloaded outfield. The $400M was never really feasible IMHO because of Bryce’s inability to stay healthy, but it’s a dead issue now. He’ll be lucky to get above $300M.


    15 Mar 18 at 10:02 am

  8. People – Boz – are drawing conclusions that aren’t warranted by the evidence. We have a good fifteen years of escalating free agent contracts buoyed by growing revenue in the game, itself buoyed by television revenue. We have one down year for free agent contracts, and people are concluding the entire landscape has changed? I think that’s ludicrous. If the temperature during the wintertime was cold as fuck for 15 straight years, would one warm winter make you think winter was going to be warm forevermore?

    In my view, the reasons (some) free agents didn’t get paid this year are (in rough order of importance): (1) the moneybag franchises – Dodgers, Yankees – largely sat out; (2) the available players were mostly old and mostly flawed (JD Martinez is old and one dimensional; Arrieta is old and has been declining, to cite two examples). I can’t explain Moustakas. He’s a good player and he got a terrible deal. Darvish is another good example – there’s a case to be made that he’s a Strasburg-caliber pitcher but he got a sub-Strasburg deal. He’s older, and his big injury was more recent, which would suggest a haircut from Strasburg’s deal, but not necessarily that big of one.

    The moneybag franchises are not sitting out next year. And Harper is not old, which matters a ton for these sorts of things, and he’s not flawed the way this year’s free agents were. The youngest player on the market – Hosmer – got an 8 year deal and he’s a thoroughly mediocre baseball player. If Harper gets skittish and overreacts to this hot stove season and is willing to sign here for less than $400 million, I will hand-deliver him the pen. If he makes it to free agency, I’d be absolutely shocked if he signed for less than that.

    The TV money isn’t going anywhere, IMO, even if the money doesn’t come from “TV.” People like watching baseball games in real-time. Advertisers like the fact that people watch baseball games in real-time. MLB clubs are going to get revenue by broadcasting their games one way or another – from cable companies, directly from subscribers (pay streaming), from online platforms (Amazon/Netflix/Twitter/Facebook), and/or directly from advertisers (their in-house streaming service fetched hundreds of millions of dollars recently). The money is there, and MLB teams are going to get it.


    15 Mar 18 at 10:30 am

  9. I’d add one more reason to explain this offseason, at least for the middle class player, which was written up in a recent Fangraphs article. Enough guys have broken out recently – swing change, defensive position switch, whatever – that it has made teams more confident that they can improve their own, pre-arb guys to get essentially the same performance as the older, pricier FA, so they are either lowballing or passing entirely. I think that came somewhat into play for Moose.

    I do think there are fundamental changes going on within the FA market, where the final resting point is still in flux, but that we aren’t going to see it at the elite end. So for a Rendon, Turner, there may be real opportunities for the Nats to lock them up at attractive prices. Harp is going to want to see what the market is


    15 Mar 18 at 1:00 pm

  10. While I agree with Boswell’s belief that the FA market has changed, I think his conclusion on Harper is off.

    Teams are analytically valuing players future contribution and refusing to overpay. Teams know that players contributions are likely to drop dramatically in their 30’s and make offers accordingly. Harper is 26 and has averaged 4.35 WAR a year, but with extreme inconsistency. 2 years less than 2 WAR and 1 year of a 10 WAR. If you value him to average 4.35 WAR over 10 years a $400M contract is justified based on an inflation calculated going rate for a WAR. Teams might also calculate risk factors which could reduce that TCV, but also as a potential seat filling super star might add TCV for generating revenue.

    Teams would probably want to sign him for 7-8 years $280-$320M, as they probably dont want to be paying him $50M at age 36.

    Contrast Harper to Trout… Trout has averaged 9 WAR with a low of 6.6 and a high of 10.5 (twice). You could make a case for Trout getting a 7 year $450M contract.


    16 Mar 18 at 9:43 am

  11. Thank you so much Jossie!


    16 Mar 18 at 1:40 pm

  12. Hellickson to Nats on a minor league deal. I like it. I even think I kind of called a few posts ago


    16 Mar 18 at 6:27 pm

  13. I was just getting on here to say “score one for Wally,” but he’s already taking credit.

    Hellickson was very good for a lousy Phils team in 2016, and even during his bad 2017, his WHIP stayed at a very respectable 1.26. He had real declines in Ks, GB rate, and LOB%, though. Was he dinged? Did he have some issues with his mechanics? In looking further down his numbers, he didn’t really lose velocity, but he got away from his heater and went too heavily with the offspeed stuff.

    So where does this leave us in the grand scheme of things? Fedde was very good again today, as he’s been all spring. Cole very curiously hasn’t been pitching, at least in MLB games. He’s pitched in only two games, for a total of five innings.

    I think the Hellickson signing signals that there’s either something going on with Cole, or they’ve made the decision to trade him and needed more depth. If there’s something up with him, they may try to buy more time for him as a Nat with a DL stint. They can’t trade him while injured anyway.

    Regardless of who starts the season as #5, I don’t think Hellickson could be ready by the beginning of the year anyway. My pick from before the spring was Fedde. It’s time to find out what they’ve got with him.

    FWIW, Hellickson came up with the Rays when Davey was there.


    16 Mar 18 at 10:27 pm

  14. Or Cole could be the long man, pushing out Benoit. But has he earned it? As I said, he hasn’t been pitching, and when he has, he hasn’t been great. If it’s really a “competition,” Fedde is “winning.” (But they wouldn’t/shouldn’t have Fedde as the long man; he should stay stretched out at Syracuse if he’s not the #5.)

    I do hope that EJax doesn’t opt out and will take assignment to ‘Cuse. Milone probably will because there isn’t much market for him.

    I do find it interesting/funny that everyone seems to be jumping to the conclusion that Hellickson will be the 5th starter. He wasn’t good last year. EJax was better, and that’s a low bar. Hellickson is nice to have as depth, and he does move the needle if the 2016 version shows up, but I don’t think anything is or should be guaranteed. It’s a minor-league deal, disposable by definition.


    16 Mar 18 at 10:47 pm

  15. In other news, considering how screwed the middle class was this offseason, and how it might be even more overshadowed next year with the mega-stars on the market, is it time to think about extending Gio? I had written him off as “probably too expensive to keep,” but in the current market, and at his age (33 next offseason), would it be nuts to put 3/$36M on the table, basically extending his current $12M salary?


    16 Mar 18 at 10:55 pm

  16. Well, one bullpen slot is definitely available, the one held by Enny Romero. He’s done. He hasn’t been good all spring.

    Roark said to have really struggled today. EJax wasn’t great, either. Good we’re adding some depth to our depth.


    17 Mar 18 at 5:24 pm

  17. Scratching my head over the Cobb signing, but then I generally scratch my head over most things the O’s do. They paid basically the expected-in-Nov. market value for him at a time when there was no market for him to bid against, plus they give up the draft picks and international bonus money. Oh well, at least he didn’t end up with an NL contender, or any kind of contender.


    20 Mar 18 at 8:50 pm

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