Carrasco has a $14M club option for next season on a contract extension he initially signed with Cleveland over the 2018-19 offseason. That option becomes guaranteed if he throws 170 innings in 2022 and is expected to be healthy for the following season, according to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN). Carrasco can’t officially lock in the latter designation until the end of the year, as he’ll presumably need to pass a physical at the start of the offseason.
He can work toward the first goal, however. Carrasco enters play Tuesday with 117 2/3 innings across 21 starts. That leaves him 52 1/3 frames short with a little less than two months to go. The 35-year-old has averaged around 5.6 innings per start to this point in the season. At that rate, he’ll need to make nine to 10 more outings, which he’s right on track to hit by the end of the year. The Mets have 52 games left in the regular season, putting them on pace to go through a five-man rotation about 10 more times. Even a brief injured list stint would probably prevent Carrasco from getting to 170 frames, but he’s on pace thus far.
Of course, it’s not a guarantee he’d hit free agency at the end of the year if he doesn’t trigger the vesting threshold. The Mets would still retain his services via club option, and it’s possible they’d exercise it anyhow. They’re over $280M in 2022 payroll, so a $14M salary isn’t all that burdensome. After an injury-plagued first season in Queens, the well-respected Carrasco has bounced back with a nice year. He owns a 3.82 ERA with slightly better-than-average strikeout, walk and ground-ball rates. If he finishes the year healthy and remains generally productive, the Mets probably keep him around regardless.
Elvis Andrus, SS, Athletics
The A’s, on the other hand, aren’t likely to want anything to do with Andrus’ option. The veteran shortstop’s extension with the Rangers contained a $15M club option for 2023. That’d become a player option if Andrus were both traded (as he was, from Texas to Oakland) and tallies 550 plate appearances in 2022.
Andrus has hit 366 times thus far, leaving him 184 plate appearances shy of the marker. The A’s have 52 games remaining, so Andrus needs to tally around 3.54 plate appearances per game from here on out. He’s averaged 3.66 PA’s per game through the season’s first few months, so he’s on pace to reach the mark. If Andrus continued at his current pace, he’d reach approximately 556 plate appearances at year’s end. If the A’s are intent on avoiding that situation, they could mix in a couple of more off days over the next two months to prevent him from getting there.
Deliberately curbing playing time to prevent a player from reaching a vesting threshold would be grounds for a grievance filing against the team. The rebuilding A’s could point to a desire to get 23-year-old Nick Allen more regular run at shortstop as an on-field justification, even as Allen has struggled mightily through his early stint in the major leagues. If Andrus misses the vesting threshold by just a handful of plate appearances, it’s certain to raise some eyebrows around the league and in the offices of the MLBPA. There’s little question Andrus — owner of a serviceable .241/.303/.372 line on the season — is one of the nine best position players on the last-place club. Yet he wouldn’t receive $15M on the open market and would definitely trigger the option if it vests, likely counting for more than a quarter of the A’s bottom-of-the-barrel player payroll next season if that occurs.
Justin Turner, 3B/DH, Dodgers