You know how everyone says major league baseball's rule are too simplistic? Kidding, no one says that. They're usually ridiculously complicated. Well here's another example of that. Teams that signed any 2014-2015 Article XX(B) Free Agents (no I didn't just make that up) have some decisions to make in the coming weeks and the deadline is 5 days before Opening Day (Apr 5th).
Those free agents must receive a $100,000 retention bonus if they aren't on the 25-man roster by that deadline and if the team chooses to keep them around. Then, if they are kept, they get an opt-out clause set for June 1st. The Brewers signed 1 such free agent: Chris Perez.
If the Brewers want to keep Perez they'll either have to award him a spot on the active roster or give him $100,000 along with the opt-out clause for June 1st. In my opinion, at least as things are now, it seems highly unlikely the Brewers will place him on the active roster.
Ahead of Chris Perez, and already on the 40-man roster, are Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Broxton, Will Smith, Jeremy Jeffress, Brandon Kintzler, Neal Cotts, Tyler Thornburg, Jim Henderson, Rob Wooten, Corey Knebel, and David Goforth. That's not even mentioning guys like Taylor Jungmann, Michael Blazek, and Michael Strong.
There's also the issue of making room for him on the 40-man roster which is currently full. I'm not sure there is a single player currently on the 40-man roster that I'd want to risk losing in favor of Chris Perez. You can take a look for yourself here. I'm not sure there would be a point in making room for him anyway. It's not like they risk losing Perez immediately.
The opt-out doesn't come until June 1st. Tons of stuff can happen between now and then. If a player hits the 60-Day DL that clears a 40-man roster spot which eliminates one of the hurdles for Perez. Less likely though still possible is that one of the relievers just burns out and gets cut. Might as well keep him in the minors as depth until either possibility occurs.
There are two ways I can see Perez making the 25-man roster before such a time. One is injury as I already mentioned. The other is if the Brewers decide to trade a player. More specifically, if they decide to trade a reliever. I'm not advocating doing such a thing, but in a recent chat Tom Haudricout guessed a trade was a possibility. He was asked if the Brewers might enter the season with an 8-man bullpen to which he responded: "Doubtful. I'm guessing somebody gets traded."
Now, let's be clear. He is just guessing, which he states, and he doesn't say he heard anything from anyone about a trade. This possibility also considers Tyler Thornburg and Jim Henderson as healthy and ready to contribute from Day 1. It is possible that's the case with both of them and that will become clearer the close we get to April.
A few months ago I'd have ruled out the possibility. But after the trades of Marco Estrada and, more significantly, Yovani Gallardo I'm not so quick to dismiss this. I do consider it highly unlikely though. That's mostly because I'm not convinced the Brewers could get much for any of the relievers I expect they'd be willing to deal.
K-Rod and Cotts were just signed so they cannot be traded. I don't see the Brewers being willing to part with Will Smith. It's hard to imagine them parting with Tyler Thornburg either considering their relative lack of rotation depth. That leaves Broxton (large salary, velo questions), Jeffress (command questions), Kintzler (coming off knee surgery and a poor 2014, low K%), and Henderson (coming off shoulder surgery after missing most of 2014, velo questions). I like the upside for all of these guys, but it's hard to see them netting a lot in return.
But who knows, maybe they can package a reliever in a larger deal for a third baseman which is something they desperately need after the 2015 (and possibly during if Aramis Ramirez gets hurt). Or maybe they can find another 6th starter type? That seems more realistic. But I'm just making wild guesses now which probably isn't worth wasting our time on.
Regardless, a decision about Chris Perez will have to be made by April. If they don't trade a reliever that leaves them with 8 (not counting Wooten, Knebel, Goforth) bullpen options for 7 spots making it all the more unlikely Perez has a chance. I'm guessing they just give him the retention bonus and go into the season with the (actually quite impressive) relief depth they currently possess. But things can change and they could get interesting over the next three weeks.