So remember Ed Wade called out Fernando Nieve as the guys who need to step up and prove something, because they were out of options?
This, from Astros County citizen Dave in Pensacola, FL...
Question: What the (censored) is an option?
That's tender, and classy, Dave. But allow me to expand on exactly what the Option process is (with some help from the Biz of Baseball)...
If you sign a professional contract when you are 18 or younger, the team has complete control of that player for five seasons. 19 or older, it's four seasons to evaluate them. The count starts the day the contract is signed. When said player is added to the 40-man roster, the club has three "options," or three seasons in which the club can move the player from the majors to the minors without losing control of that player.
The player can be moved back and forth as many times in one season, and it will only count as one option.
After the player is out of options, or three seasons in which he has been moved from the Majors to the Minors - beginning with the next season, the player has to clear waivers in order to be sent to the minors. A player with five years of Major League experience has to consent to be placed on waivers.
Since Nieve has played Chutes-n-Ladders with the Astros for three seasons now, in order for Nieve to be sent to Round Rock this season, he would have to be placed on waivers and the other 29 clubs could claim him.
Voila. It basically means you can't play with a player's emotions all four/five years he's under control. And if you can't figure out if a guy is ready after five years, you should let other teams screw with him.