Despite all my expertise when it comes to the rule book, one aspect I’ve never had a great grasp on is fourth options.
However, after a crash course on the topic this weekend, I speculated that Bryse Wilson would qualify for another option in the 2022 season:
After a crash course in fourth options, I think it's possible Bryse Wilson will qualify.
He has used three in less than 5 full seasons (2017, 2018, 2019, 2021) after not being on recall long enough in 2020.
I won't proclaim it Chasen Shreve style, but again, I find it possible.
— Ethan Hullihen (@EthanHullihen) March 12, 2022
Well, it didn’t take long for my hunch to be confirmed, as Alex Stumpf of DK Pittsburgh Sports reported as such this morning:
A bit of news in the column: Bryse Wilson qualifies for a fourth option year, per industry source. He’s got a very good chance of being in the opening day rotation, but if he doesn’t make the team, he doesn’t need to be exposed to waivers.
Ethan was on the scent of this: https://t.co/IeoympR3Cx
— Alex Stumpf (@AlexJStumpf) March 14, 2022
Since we now know this to be the case, let’s dive into why it is.
First, here’s the rule as of the 2021 rulebook:
EXCEPTION: Contracts of Major League players who, prior to commencement of the current season, have been credited with less than five seasons in the Major and Minor Leagues (excluding service on the Military, Disqualified, Restricted, Voluntarily Retired and Ineligible Lists) shall be eligible for a fourth optional assignment during that season. For purposes of this Rule 7(c), 90 days or more on the Active List or Development List during a championship season (including time spent on optional assignment to a Spring Training Complex following the completion of the seasons (including postseasons) of its Minor League affiliates), shall constitute a “season of service.” While time spent on any Inactive List other than the Development List shall not be counted toward the 90 days required before a season’s service is credited, if a player is placed on the Injured List after the player has been credited with 30 or more days of service in any particular season, the Injured List time shall be counted to the player’s credit
So, why does Wilson meet these qualifications?
Barring some kind of change in the draft schedule, it’s basically impossible for a player to accrue a full season of service in their draft year, meaning the count for Wilson needs to start in 2017, his first full season.
Having stayed healthy for his whole career, no IL stints need factored in, so Wilson’s count is straight forward for 2017-2019 and 2021, or four full seasons. So, that just brings the crazy 2020 season into question.
Many rules were complicated by the shortened season, and this is not an exception. So, how was 2020 accounted for?
According to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register—who reported Dillon Peters qualified for an extra option in 2021—an arbiter ruled that 34 days in the majors in 2020 was a full season of service. The Viva El Birdos blog came up with 33 days in a great review of other players who qualified in 2021, so there’s obviously some debate.
By my count, Wilson was active in the majors for 26 days in 2020, meaning he falls below the threshold either way, so his 2020 season does not count as a full one.
Having used his third option in 2021, this means Wilson exhausted all three of his options in less than five seasons, which is why he gets a fourth in 2022.
Wilson figures to start the season in the rotation, but with the added flexibility afforded to the team, it’s at least possible that he can spend some time in Indianapolis, if need be, when this didn’t appear to be the case just a few days ago.