With the American Association off-season still in its infancy, the Winnipeg Goldeyes made an early move to keep control over players they may look to bring back next year.
On Tuesday, the Goldeyes announced they had exercised their option on 18 players’ contracts, keeping them in the fold. The players must still be signed to a contract for the 2014 American Association season, or they can elect to play the option out.
Those 18 included 11 pitchers: rookie Gabe Aguilar, two-year Goldeye Kaohi Downing, closer Patrick Keating, and starters Mark Hardy, Chris Salamida, Matt Rusch and Matthew Jackson. The Goldeyes also extended their connection with reliever Chris Kissock, righty Taylor Sewitt and southpaw reliever Brendan Lafferty, who had a breakout season with the Goldeyes in 2013.
Veteran catcher and fan-fave catcher Luis Alen was among the position players optioned, as was hard-slugging infielder Casey Haerther, outfielder Ray Sadler and rookie catcher Jordan Guida. The Goldeyes also, unsurprisingly, exercised their option to hang on to key infielders Josh Mazzola and Amos Ramon.
Finally, the Goldeyes exercised their option on Ryan Scoma, who was a driving force in the Goldeyes lineup last season, swinging to some of the top batting stats in the American association.
The Goldeyes did not exercise their option on outfielder Tyler Graham or veteran outfielder Fehlandt Lentini, who returned to the Goldeyes last season but struggled to find the same success that had marked his earlier years with the team. Both are now free agents.
Finally, southpaw pitcher Pete Gehle closed out his option year in 2013, and became a free agent this year.