The Potential For An Oviedo Exemption | The Process Report

The Potential For An Oviedo Exemption

According to the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement, an Article XX(B) free agent is one with six years of service time and without a contract for the following season. This year, 137 players qualified as such free agents. They are eligible free agency following the day after the World Series ends and can sign with a new team after a “quiet period” (a five-day exclusive negotiation rights with their current team) expires.

While free agents like Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, and Zack Greinke sign guarantee contracts with multiple commas in their paychecks, some Article XX(B) veterans are forced to settle for minor-league contacts in late winter. The collective bargaining agreement gives these vets some additional rights. If one of these designated free agents signs a minor-league deal at least 10 days before opening day, and is not released five days prior to opening day, added to the 25-man roster (which also means a spot on the 40-man roster), or placed on the major-league disabled list by opening day, they automatically receive a $100,000 retention bonus. Additionally, they can opt-out of the minor-league contract if they have not been added to the 25-man roster or MLB disabled list by June 1st.

The Rays have signed a number of Article XX(B) free agents this off-season, including two—Jamey Wright and Juan Oviedo—to minor-league contracts. Wright’s case is pretty simple. As a durable, veteran reliever with past success and the ability to rack up groundballs with a heavy sinker and a decent amount of whiffs with a curveball, he has a fair shake of being added to opening day roster. His chances are enhanced by his closest competitors (Brandon Gomes, Josh Lueke) having remaining minor-league options.

Juan Oviedo‘s scenario is a bit more complicated. The 31-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery in September and is unlikely to pitch at the major-league level—if at all—this season. The Rays hold a club option for 2014, meaning his signing is more about the future than it is the present. To get to that future, however, there will need to be a series of roster moves at the end of this year’s camp to facilitate the partnership.

Despite being unable to pitch, there is a decent chance Oviedo will be added to the 40-man roster prior to opening day. He will also likely be immediately placed on the 60-day disabled list which will take him off the 40-man roster and free up space for another addition, say Jamey Wright. All the while, he will draw a major-league salary and accrue major-league service time. These moves effectively avoid the $100,000 bonus and opt-out date.

This chain of events may also end up impacting the roster down the road. Should the Rays qualify for the playoffs, and Oviedo be unable to participate, the team can request a roster exemption to replace him for the postseason. This means the Rays could add a pitcher to the playoff roster even if that player was called up after the August 31st deadline for playoff eligibility. The team has used such exemptions in the past.

If this scenario plays out as mentioned above, The Rays will pay Oviedo a decent salary to be a procedural member of the roster and rehab his talented right arm. In return, they receive some potentially, useful roster flexibility in 2013, and hopefully gain a productive member of the active roster in 2014; presumably at a discounted rate, of course.


  1. Jake wrote:

    Can we just get to the DFA’ing of Vogt already?

  2. scottgilroy wrote:

    Thanks for that interesting info

  3. […] while still recovering from his surgery. One potential scenario for Oviedo is what Tommy Rancel outlined earlier this month: The Rays add Oviedo to the 40-man roster prior to opening day and immediately […]

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