With five days to go until Opening Day, decisions are due at noon eastern on players who qualify as Article XX(B) free agents. The rule applies to players who a) have six or more years of service; b) finished the prior season on a 40-man roster or on the 60-day DL; and c) signed Minor League deals over the offseason. If a team does not release such a player prior to the deadline, then they must either put the player on the active roster (or DL) to start the year or be on the hook for some extra benefits — a $100K retention bonus and June 1st opt-out date (at a minimum).
Here are updates on players who’ll be paid the bonus or have instead learned that they’ve made their respective teams …
- The Rays have informed both infielder Rickie Weeks and righty Tommy Hunter that they will be on the active roster to open the season, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). Weeks is expected to function as a righty bench bat, perhaps spending some time at both first base and DH, while Hunter will take up a spot in the Tampa Bay bullpen. Both players enjoyed productive Grapefruit League stints, with Weeks posting a .999 OPS and Hunter allowing just one earned run (with nine strikeouts against three walks) in his eight innings. Both will require 40-man spots, once the moves are made official. Meanwhile, it’s not yet clear whether the team will commit to doing the same with just-acquired outfielder Peter Bourjos. Topkin tweets that he may instead be paid the roster bonus, though the team’s final decision isn’t yet known.
- Utilityman Emilio Bonifacio has been informed he’ll be on the Braves’ Opening Day roster, Mark Bowman of MLB.com was among those to tweet. The 31-year-old has struggled badly in his limited big league time over the past two seasons, though he had been a regular contributor before that. Never much with the bat, Bonifacio has long earned his keep through defensive versatility and excellence on the bases.