Cesar Hernandez and The Mythical Fourth Option

So, a couple different times now I have seen people reference the idea that Cesar Hernandez is out of options. And at least once I have had someone say how dumb I was for thinking that to be true. (They said it nicer than that, but whatever – and whoever that was on here, please speak up and take credit for beginning my enlightenment).

So here it is – Cesar Hernandez qualifies for a fourth option year in 2014.

I will link you to the article here from Matt Eddy at BA:


Unless the CBA has changed in the last couple weeks, (hint: it has not), we’re operating under the same rules in 2014 as we are in 2013. I’ll pull the the important bits here:

“Major League Baseball grants a fourth option to teams when a player has five or fewer professional seasons under his belt but already has burned through three optional assignments…The types of players who typically qualify for a fourth option include:

…Players who spend multiple seasons in short-season leagues, where they don’t accrue 90 days on an active roster because the season doesn’t last that long. This is particularly true for international players who sign at age 16 and require an acclimation period before embarking on a full-season league assignment.”

Sound like anyone we know?

Cesar Hernandez signed in 2006 and did not play. He spent 07-08 in the VSL, 09 in the GCL and 2010 in the NYPL. He needed to be protected from the Rule 5 draft that winter, and so he was added to the 40-man roster, and started burning options in 2011 at Clearwater, used another in 2012, and another this year.

He has, thus far, spent only two years on a roster of a full-season league, and 2013 will be his third. As such, he should qualify for a fourth option year in 2014.

Anyone not like my math? Anyone have reason to believe Hernandez would be otherwise exempt from this rule.

11 thoughts on “Cesar Hernandez and The Mythical Fourth Option

  1. Thanks for setting this straight, Brad. I’ll take your word for it.

    It sure is nice that the Phils seem to have learned their lesson form Dom Brown and are keeping Hernandez around to sit on the bench for awhile.

    1. Ha! When I saw that he was on the bench again today, that’s pretty much exactly what I was thinking.

  2. Scott Mathieson, a few years ago, did qualify for that rare last option from the article. I really hoped he’d become a major league regular after all he went through. Seems to me like Rosenberg is having similar results (huge straight FB is getting hammered in the majors, despite ability to maintain that velocity through multiple innings).

    1. I think Zagurski qualified for that oddball Mathieson option as well, but maybe didn’t need it. I also could be talking out of my butt.

      1. Bradindc,

        I am the person that alerted you to the Cesar Hernandez’s option situation several weeks ago. This is what I wrote at that time.

        “You are wrong on Cesar Hernandez’s option status. He is not out of options after the 2013 season.

        He is eligible for a 4th option season. He is one of the rare players that the Phillies can exercise that 4th option in 2015 if they do not use it up in 2014.

        At year end, Cesar will have only 3 years in which he spent more than 90 days on the active roster of a professional baseball league. He spent more than 90 days on the roster in the following seasons 2011, 2012, and 2013. Every other season from when he signed, he has spent it in short season ball (less than 90 day seasons).

        Cesar signed on July 2, 2006. He did not play on any professional team in 2006. In 2007, he played in the short season VSL. In 2008, he played in the short season VSL. In 2009, he played in the short season GCL. In 2010, he played in the short season NYPL.

        So since 3 years is less than 5 years of full-time service, he is eligible for a 4th option year.”

        As a follow up I wrote the following:

        ” MattWinks,

        You are wrong concerning Tyson Gillies option situation. Tyson Gillies is not out of options after this year. He was put on the 40-man roster on November 18, 2011 so the first option year was used in 2012. The second option year was used this year in 2013. The 3rd option year could be used in 2014. Additionally, because of the injuries he is eligible for a 4th option year in 2015. The Phillies if they keep him on the 40-man roster do not have to worry about him clearing waivers in order to be sent to the minors until after spring training in 2016. Which is approximately the first week in April 2016. The big question is he deserving of being kept on the 40-man roster for that length of time when you may have more capable “Prospects Du Jour” who may have to be left off the 40-man in order for him to remain on it. Complicating the situation is the fact that if Gillies is removed from the 40-man roster he will have to clear waivers. Even if he clears waivers and is sent to a Phillies minor league team he will become a minor league free agent after the season.


        A couple days ago, you asked if the 4th option was a new rule. No it is not. It has been a part of major league baseball rules since the late 1950’s. It was set up as a response to the debacle of the bonus baby rule. It was designed to eliminate situations like the Phillies had with Tom “Moneybags” Qualters.

        The first Phillie player that the Phillies used the 4th option rule on was a player by the name of Richie (Dick) Allen in 1963. The Phillies gave Richie Allen a huge bonus for the time of $70,000 in April 1960. In order to prevent another major league team from drafting Richie Allen out of their minor league system in December 1960 in the first year player draft for only $1,000 the Phillies had to put him on their 40-man roster when they signed him in April 1960. That resulted in the Phillies using the first three options in 1960, 1961 and 1962. Because he was still not ready to remain on the major league roster in 1963 the Phillies received a 4th option year on Allen for 1963. In 1964, Allen made the Phillies and was Rookie of the Year. If he did not make the Phillies in 1964, the Phillies would have had to ask waivers on him in order to send him back to the minors.”

        Yes, Bradindc you are in your words ‘speaking out of your butt’ concerning a 4th option for Zagurski. In addition, PhxPhilly is ‘speaking out of his butt’ concerning Scott Mathieson. Neither Scott Mathieson nor Mike Zagurski were ever eligible for or ever received a 4th option. The former manager of this site the original Phuture Phillies (James Moyer) was wrong several years ago when he stated that Mathieson received a 4th option in 2010 and then a 5th option in 2011. In fact his error is still listed on this site if you go under primer then roster management.

        Mathieson 1st option year was 2006, his 2nd option year was 2010 and his 3rd option year was 2011. James Moyer and other people on this site had mistakenly believed that options were used for Mathieson in 2007 and 2008 when in fact he was on the major league roster on the disabled list and receiving major league service time.

        1. Thanks NEPA. I remembered the explanation, and I have seen Matt Gelb and The Good Phight mention Cesar being out of options.

          The Mathieson situation required him to pass through ‘optional waivers’ (an option) and Philly papers made a thing of it. I wonder of that’s just that they didn’t realize he’d not used options in all of injury years.

            1. Bradindc,

              The situation with Mathieson had more to deal with being DFA than with options. Here is what I wrote when that situation occurred in June 2010.

              ” Recently, the Phillies asked for waivers and designated for assignment (DFA) Scott Mathieson. This is causing much concern with the Philly fans that the Phillies would lose Mathieson to another club. The people who are exhibiting this concern clearly do not fully understand how waivers, options and designating a player for assignment work. There was about as much chance of losing Mathieson to another club on waivers as there will be to lose Chase Utley when the Phillies ask for waivers on him in early August (more in this latter).

              What is occurring with Mathieson is standard operating practice for players that are more than three years removed from their major league debut. Major League rules require that those players clear optional waivers before they can be sent to the minors.

              First you must understand that there are 5 types of waivers. The 5 types of waivers are general waivers, release waivers, outright waivers, trade waivers and optional waivers. General waivers, release waivers and outright waivers are not recallable while trade waivers and optional waivers are. Once a player is put on general or release waivers that player is lost if any other club claims him. A player put on trade or optional waivers can have the waiver recalled if another team put in a claim. 99.9% of the time no claims are made on trade or optional waivers. Trade waiver are used to make player available for trade while optional waiver are use to option player to the minors if they are more than three years removed for when they made their major league debut.

              When a player is called up and is eligible for optional waivers the team usually asks for optional waivers after 24-hrs of the call up in order to be able to send the player down whenever they want in that waiver period without having to wait for the player to clear optional waivers. I might add that when the club asks for optional waivers there is no immediate intention of sending that player down. In general 99.9% of the time the person put on optional waivers clears waivers. Waivers usually take 3 to 4 business days to clear. If he clears waivers he will be added back to the 40-man roster and optioned back to the minors. If a person does not clear then the team has the option of adding that person back to the 40-man and designate someone else for assignment.

              Mathieson was called up around noon on June 17. The Phillies probably asked for optional waivers on him about noon on June 18. Latter on June 18, Ruiz was hurt in the night game. Because the waivers on Mathieson had not yet cleared since it will take 3 to 4 business days (Monday thru Friday). The Phillies then needed to designate Mathieson for assignment in order to open a roster space and allow time for his optional waivers to clear. Designating a person for assignment is a temporary holding area and a quick way to remove him from the 40-man roster to clear a spot for another person. The person designated for assignment continues to get paid and earns major league service time while he is on it. A person designated for assignment can remain on it for up to 10 days at that point he must be added back to the 40-man roster, traded, or released. It was designed to be use with waivers so that it gives the team time to allow for a person to clear waivers. Many people react to the Designate for Assignment for Mathieson because they think that it is used only to release or trade a person. This is not true although probably 75 to 80 % of the time it is used that way.

              The only way the Phillies could possibly lose Mathieson is if someone puts a claim for him (99.9% unlikely) and the Phillies determine that he has less value than someone like Quintin Berry or Brian Bocock and then they ask for general waivers on him. I should point out that once a person is call back from optional waivers when claimed then he would need to clear general waivers (none recallable) within that waiver period in order to be sent to the minors. Since the Phillies only need the roster spot for backup catcher Sardinha for a couple of days, the Phillies will probably reinstate Mathieson when Ruiz is ok’d to play and designate Sardinha for assignment.

              Earlier, I indicated that the Phillies will probably ask waivers on Chase Utley in early August. Most Philly fans will be surprised to learn that the Phillies probably will be asking waivers on Halladay, Hamels, Utley and Howard in early August and even more surprising is that they all will probably clear. The waivers that we are talking about are trade waivers.

              Virtually all players on the 40-man roster except for player with no trade contracts and 5/10 year player are put on trade waivers in early August of every year. This is done because in order to be ready to trade players before the trade deadline. Players must have to cleared trade waivers during that waiver period in order to be eligible to be traded. Even players that the team has no intention of trading are offered on waivers in order to mask the players they really want to trade. Just like optional waivers 99.9% of the players offered for trade waivers clear. August 1 opens the new waiver period that controls the critical late August trading period. Starting August 1, teams can put up to 7 players a day on the trade waiver list so by August 5 or August 6 virtually all the players on their 40-man roster could have been put on trade waivers. Teams can only make one claim per day and the fact that teams do not want to step on other’s toes so the others do not step on theirs so 99.9% of the players put on these waivers clear. If a player does not clear then the team recalls that waiver and that player can not be put on trade waivers again in that waiver period nor can he be traded.”

  3. BradinDC,
    Hi, I am a fan of the Phillies from Taiwan.
    I have been watching phuturephillies for few months, and this my first reply here.
    Here I have a question that is Cesar Hernandez signed when he was under 19 and played four professional seasons from 2007 to 2010, accroding to the Rule 5 draft, the time he needed to be protected from the Rule 5 draft should be 2011′ winter , wasn’t it? Why PHI added he to the 40-man roster one year early?

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