Baseball is filled with statistics, rules, and archaic terms that can often form what sounds like a foreign language. Sons of Sam Horn’s glossary provides a better understanding of these terms through straightforward definitions, clear explanations, and examples pulled straight from the baseball world. If there is anything you would like us to add to our glossary, please contact us.
An option year is an additional year added onto a contract after the guaranteed portion of the contract has expired. The year is only added if the option is exercised by the player or club – depending on who holds the option – unless it is a mutual or vesting option.
The club option is most common when the player and team agree to a long-term deal early in the player’s career. The team will usually buy out the player’s arbitration years, as well as his first few years of free agency, and in return, option years will be added on. The team does hold some risk as for each option year there is often a buyout, which the team must pay the player if the option is not picked up.
A vesting option is triggered when a player hits certain performance standards on the field. The CBA mandates that the option can only vest based on three statistics: plate appearances, innings pitched, or games finished. These criteria can be defined over any period during the course of a contract. For example, a hitter may need to have 1,000 plate appearances over the last two guaranteed years of his contract to activate his option year.
For a mutual option to be activated, both the player and the club must agree to the option year. If the club denies the option, then a buyout is often paid to the player. If the player denies the option, then the player walks with no buyout.
The player option is much less common. Sometimes there are buyouts on player options so that the player has the chance to weigh his value on the open market against the value of the buyout.
Pete Hodges has written about the call up of a top prospect, an odd tradition, and Leo the Lip.
Follow Pete on Twitter @PeterWHodges.