Earlier this week, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced that right-handed pitcher Brandon Cumpton underwent Tommy John surgery. That puts him out for the 2015 season, and possibly for the start of the 2016 season.
Cumpton has one option year remaining, and I previously thought that the Pirates would have a choice on whether to option him to the minors, or place him on the 60-day DL. If they optioned him, they would burn the final option year, but would save a year of service time and prevent paying him the MLB league minimum for the year. If they placed him on the DL, the option would be preserved for 2016, but he’d gain a year of service time and be paid more for his time on the DL.
Today I learned that the Pirates have no choice with Cumpton — he has to go on the disabled list.
In previous years, Neal Huntington has talked about a certain date when the team can no longer send a prospect down if he is injured. This usually comes after cutting a top prospect from big league camp and optioning him to the minors. If the player would stay up in the majors beyond the cutoff date, and then get injured, he would have to go on the MLB disabled list, starting his service time clock. If the player gets injured before the date, the team can option him to the minors as an injured player.
That date this year is March 20th, and it only applies to players with zero service time. Any player with at least one day of MLB service time has to go on the disabled list if he’s injured during Spring Training, no matter what date he gets injured. So in Cumpton’s case, he has to go on the 60-day disabled list because of his MLB service time. There are a few other qualifications and stipulations that could determine when an injured player can and can’t be sent down, but for the most part it involves how much service time they have.
What this means for the prospects in camp is that you can probably expect the 40-man roster guys with zero days of service time to be sent down before March 20th. This includes Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham, Alen Hanson, Elias Diaz, and Willy Garcia. I don’t know if the same rules apply to NRI prospects like Tyler Glasnow and Adrian Sampson, but I’d expect them to be among the first cuts, since they are having a hard time finding innings in big league camp, and won’t have a shot at making the Opening Day roster.
In Taillon’s case, I wasn’t sure how his rehab status, and the fact that he won’t be ready on Opening Day, would impact his roster status, since he’s on the 40-man roster. That’s now cleared up, and Taillon won’t be a risk to start the year on the disabled list.
On the flip side of this, there is also a minimum date that prevents teams from sending down guys with zero days of service time. This ensures that those players get a fair look in camp, and prevents a team from cutting guys with zero service time on day one of Spring Training. I’m pretty sure this date has just passed, since the Royals were able to option John Lamb to Triple-A, with Lamb having no service time in the majors.
In summary, Cumpton will go on the 60-day DL, which will create a 40-man roster spot, and preserve his option for 2016, while also burning a year of service time. Also, you should expect all of the prospects in camp to be cut very soon, to avoid a situation where they get injured, and have to spend time rehabbing on the MLB disabled list (which actually happened to Nick Johnson in 2000, costing him a year of service time).
**We have less than 100 paperback books of the 2015 Prospect Guide remaining from the final shipment. I don’t anticipate ordering another shipment this year. That means once the current batch is gone, the paperback version will be sold out. You can order your copy of the book on the products page of the site.
**Every day I upload content on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and the video features on YouTube. Be sure that you’re subscribed to all of those sites to follow everything we upload throughout Spring Training (there is different content for each social media site).
**Jameson Taillon Feels Good After His First Time Facing Hitters In A Year. His first live BP went well. Also, if you missed it earlier this week, check out my article where Taillon and Jim Benedict broke down his mechanics and changes to his delivery over the last few years.
**Q&A: Can Tyler Glasnow Make It To Indianapolis By The End Of 2015? The weekly Q&A takes a look at when Glasnow might make the jump to Triple-A, including a look at how the Pirates have handled pitchers in Altoona in previous years.
**Casey Sadler May Prove To Be A Key Depth Piece In 2015. He was leaving the ball up today, and didn’t have his best stuff, but the injury to Brandon Cumpton moves him up on the depth charts.
**Andrew McCutchen Removed From Today’s Lineup With Lower Body Soreness. Right now it doesn’t sound like anything serious.