Yoan Moncada Is Already Eligible for the Playoffs

I’m writing this post as a favor to former colleague and friend-of-the-site Mike Petriello, who is now working as an analyst for MLB.com. Over the last few weeks, on Twitter, Mike has been doing his best to dispel the notion that teams have to set their playoff rosters today.

The myth of the August 31st playoff roster deadline is seemingly born out of the notion that, to be eligible to play in the postseason, teams have to acquire players from other organizations by the end of the day today. That part is absolutely true; any player acquired tomorrow will not be eligible to participate in the postseason. But beyond that restriction, anyone in a team’s organization today is effectively eligible for the playoff roster, no matter what part of the organization they are assigned to today.

In a helpful piece over on ESPN New York last year, Adam Rubin posted the entire section of the rulebook pertaining to playoff eligibility. We’ll just excerpt the most important part.

a) PLAYERS ELIGIBLE.

(1) Major League Roster Players. To be eligible to play for a Major League Club in a Wild Card Game, Division Series, League Championship Series, or the World Series, a player must

(A) have been on a Major League Active, Disabled, Bereavement / Family Medical Emergency, Paternity, Suspended or Military List of such Major League Club as of Midnight Eastern Time on August 31, or on such date be under control, but on optional assignment, or on assignment from another Major League organization and not yet reported; and

(B) have remained reserved to such Major League Club (at the Major or Minor League levels) through the beginning of the applicable post-season series, unless the player is replacing an injured player pursuant to Rule 40(a)(3).

(3) Replacements for Injured Players Before a Series. With the express consent of the Commissioner or the Commissioner’s designee prior to the start of a postseason series (including the Wild Card Game), a Club may name a player in its organization to a roster for such series in order to replace an injured Major League player. A Club will not be permitted to name such a replacement unless

(A) the injured Major League player is eligible under Rule 40(a)(1);

(B) the injured Major League player is unable to render service in such series because of a specific injury or ailment;

(C) the injured Major League player’s Club has submitted written proof of the player’s disability; and

(D) the injured Major League player’s Club has requested permission from the Commissioner or the Commissioner’s designee to name such a replacement. If the Commissioner or the Commissioner’s designee grants permission to the injured Major League player’s Club to make such a replacement, the player named to the roster for the series (including the Wild Card Game) as a replacement must also be an eligible player pursuant to Rule 40(a)(1) or must

(E) have been on a Minor League Active, Disabled, Temporarily Inactive, Suspended or Military List of such Major League Club as of Midnight Eastern Time on August 31, or on such date be designated for assignment or under control, but not yet reported, on assignment from another Major League organization;

(F) have remained reserved to such Major League Club (at the Major or Minor League levels) through the time of replacement; and

(G) be placed on the Club’s Major League Reserve List.

Rule 40(a)(1) essentially stipulates that everyone on a team’s 40 man roster is playoff eligible. That’s the “on optional assignment” part of the language, as players in the minor leagues but on the 40 man have previously been optioned to the minors; this rule specifically includes them as playoff-eligible even if they’re in the minor leagues at the moment.

But Yoan Moncada is not on the Red Sox 40 man roster, given that he just signed last year, and thus hasn’t yet needed to be added to be protected from the Rule 5 draft. So, the second part of the block quote is the relevant portion that would allow the Red Sox to put Moncada on the playoff roster if they wanted to. Because everyone on the 60-day disabled list is also playoff eligible, this section allows a team to name an injured player — say, Pablo Sandoval or Carson Smith — to the playoff roster, then immediately replace them with a minor leaguer who was not on the 40 man roster on August 31st. This entire section essentially allows for teams to name any minor leaguer that they had in their system by the end of the day today to the playoff roster, no matter when that player was added to the 40 man roster.

And teams do this every year. Last year, the Royals added Raul Mondesi to their World Series roster, even though he wasn’t even a September call-up, and hadn’t made his Major League debut to that point. Mondesi wasn’t on the team’s 40-man roster, so the team had to designate Joba Chamberlain for assignment in order to clear a spot for Mondesi before promoting him.

So, realistically, teams with injured players don’t need to worry about moving guys within the organization around today in order to have them eligible for the playoff roster. As long as they’re signed to a contract and in the organization today, they’re good. A team could even trade for a minor league not on the 40-man today, and as long as his contract is assigned to them before the end of the day, he’ll be eligible to play in the postseason, even if he hasn’t actually played a game for the organization yet.

I use Moncada as an example because it sounds likely that he’ll be called up to the Red Sox at some point in September, so it’s worth noting that the Red Sox not promoting him today has no impact on his postseason eligibility. As Mike notes, though, the Dodgers also aren’t promoting Jose De Leon today either, and he’s in the same boat; they’ll be able to put him on the playoff roster if they want to, and given how he’s pitching in Triple-A, they’ll probably want to.

Keep fighting the good fight, Mike. And now you have something to link to.

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