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Options and opt outs: Who can and can’t go to Triple-A

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Snow has been falling outside of my apartment for a while now. It wasn’t too bad a little before noon — I was out to pick up some dry cleaning, in case you’re curious — but this is looking like a good day to stay inside and watch that Bob Marley documentary that’s been on my DVR for about a week. Or maybe I’ll just keep watching this MiZ cover of Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes [3] over and over again.

Either way, spring training can’t get here soon enough, and a quiet day like this seemed like a good time to check on the option and opt-out status of a few guys coming to camp with the Yankees.

Establishing minor league depth isn’t as simple as choosing a big league roster and putting everyone else in the minors. Not everyone can go to the minors. Only players with options, and those who’s contracts allow a minor league assignment, can actually end up with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and remain available should a need arise mid-season.

Any organizational player added to the 40-man roster in the past year or two still has at least one option remaining. Most of those are self-explanatory with no cause for confusion: Dellin Betances, David Phelps, Adam Warren, Austin Romine, David Adams, Corban Joseph, Zoilo Almonte, Melky Mesa and any of the guys added to the roster this winter can be optioned to the minor leagues.

Four not-so-obvious situations are Eduardo Nunez, Francisco Cervelli, Cody Eppley and Ivan Nova. Cashman confirmed that each of those four has an option remaining. Yes, that means Cervelli could come to camp with a chance to be the big league starter and instead — once again — be forced to serve as minor league catching depth. It also means Nunez could be sent down to play shortstop every day, Eppley could once again shuttle back and forth from Triple-A to the big leagues, and Nova could land in the minors if he doesn’t prove himself this spring.

Chris Stewart and Clay Rapada are out of options. They’d have to clear waivers to end up in the minors.

Because of a rule in the new collective bargaining agreement, both Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera — based on service time — are able to opt out of their minor league contracts at the end of spring training. Cashman said both are viewed as all-or-nothing options; they’ll either make the big league roster as right-handed bench players, or they won’t be in the organization.

Dan Johnson can opt out at some point — Cashman couldn’t remember the exact date — but it’s not at the end of camp. He was signed as depth to fill-in if someone gets hurt, so he’s likely to open the season in Triple-A as an alternative should either Mark Teixiera or Travis Hafner go on the disabled list. Bobby Wilson, Gil Velazquez and Thomas Neal were signed to standard minor league deals without opt out dates. Those three can also go to Triple-A without a problem.

Jayson Nix signed a split contract and accepted his outright assignment after being designated for assignment. That means he can also be assigned to the minors. Same for relievers Jim Miller and Josh Spence, who were claimed off waivers, designated for assignment and outrighted. They can go to Triple-A as well.

[6]Cesar Cabral
Kind of demands his own category. Cabral is still held to Rule 5 restrictions, meaning he has to be placed on the big league roster when he’s activated. However, because he’s coming off surgery and likely to open the season on the disabled list, Cabral can be assigned to a minor league team as part of a rehab assignment. Basically, the Yankees can have Cabral actively pitching in the minor leagues for about a month — without technically taking up a minor league roster spot — before having to decide whether to put him on the Major League roster.

Associated Press photos