As the calendar turns to September 1st each year, Major League Baseball teams get up to 15 additional active roster spots, with the active rosters expanding from a maximum of 25 to a maximum of 40 players. During the month of September, and until the end of the regular season, teams can call up additional players to the majors, commonly referred to as “September call-ups”. A few rules and notes on September call-ups:
-In order for a player to be called up, he must be on the 40-man roster.
-Players can be added to the 40-man roster and called up.
-There is no deadline to call up additional players.
-There is no rule stating how many players you have to call up, and no rule stating that you have to call certain players up.
-Any player optioned down to the minors within a ten day span prior to September 1st still has to wait the full ten days until he can return to the majors.
-A player who is a September call-up accrues service time for every day he is on the active roster.
-If a player is added to the 40-man roster and called up, he doesn’t use an option year for the current season.
It’s hard to predict which players will be called up at this point, due to various factors. Call ups can depend on the team’s place in the standings, how the team values certain players, and obviously, who gets called up between now and September 1st. The best approach to take would be to break things down in to groups, and look at the players who have a chance to play in the majors at some point in September.
The Disabled List
The Pirates have several players on the disabled list who are scheduled to return in September, if not earlier. Alex Presley, Chase d’Arnaud, and Chris Leroux will most likely be activated before September 1st. If they’re not activated by then, or if they’re optioned to AAA after being activated, expect to see them return in September. Derrek Lee, Evan Meek, and Chris Snyder are also candidates to return in September, as soon as they get healthy enough.
The 40-Man Roster
One thing to keep in mind with players on the 40-man roster is that the Indianapolis Indians are still playing in September. For that reason, we probably won’t see everyone called up on September 1st, although we will see a lot of players called up when Indianapolis finishes their season. Another thing to consider is that prospects are unlikely to be called up to start their service clocks. The Pirates could call up Gorkys Hernandez, for example. However, they would start his service time, and lose the chance to bring him up in mid-April 2012, thus buying an extra year. That extra year is much more valuable than the limited playing time Hernandez would see behind Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Alex Presley, and Ryan Ludwick.
Ross Ohlendorf - It looks like he’s slated to start game two of the double header next week against Milwaukee. Whether he remains in the majors after that is unknown, although I expect him up full time once September rolls around.
Pedro Ciriaco - Is there any doubt that Ciriaco gets recalled? The only question is, how many at-bats will he see in September? I’m setting the over/under at 5.
Jason Jaramillo - If there’s one position where we see a lot of September depth, it’s catching. I’d expect Jaramillo to be recalled, just so the Pirates don’t have to be limited by catching restrictions when making pinch hitting and substitution decisions.
Eric Fryer - See: Jaramillo, Jason.
Tony Watson - I’m not sure why Watson is down in the minors right now, with Joe Beimel in the majors, but I definitely see him getting the call to the majors in September, so that the Pirates can have an extra left hander.
Daniel Moskos - See: Watson, Tony.
Bryan Morris - Morris has been great out of the bullpen in AA. The Pirates could take an aggressive push and jump him to the majors to get some work in the bullpen. It might not be worth it in the long run, as they could wait and call Morris up in mid-April 2012, thus getting another year of service time.
Pedro Alvarez - We know Alvarez is in AAA for the remainder of the year. What happens after the AAA season ends? Do the Pirates bring him back up, or just leave him down and let him start fresh in 2012? I say they should bring him back up.
Non 40-Man Players
Matt Hague - The big question will be whether Matt Hague gets a shot. I really don’t see it happening. The Pirates had Lyle Overbay struggling and Matt Hague tearing the cover off the ball in AAA, and they didn’t call him up. Then, Derrek Lee went down with an injury, and they still didn’t call him up. Ultimately, Hague rates as an average first baseman at best, and his platoon splits indicate that he probably won’t make a solid regular in the majors. However, I see no harm in giving him the call. Worst case, he shows that he’s not going to be a solid regular. Best case, he shows that he can be more than just an average major league first baseman. There’s really no downside to giving him a look in September.
John Bowker - Bowker was outrighted off the 40-man roster this year, but has since been on a tear in AAA, with a .300/.346/.490 line and 15 homers in 363 at-bats. It will be interesting to see if the Pirates give him another shot in the majors. However, just like Hague, I don’t see it happening since it hasn’t happened already.
Justin Wilson - Just like Bryan Morris, the Pirates could bring Wilson up as a bullpen option. However, just like Morris, the Pirates might be better off waiting, and getting an extra year of control from Wilson.