Just this week, the RailCats picked up the 2009 roster option on 21 players from the 2008 team. What does that mean? Well, for most guys it means very little. None of the 21 players – including four-year stars Tanner Townsend, Jay Pecci, Steve Haake and Eric McNamee – have contracts for next season, but they are under the RailCats’ control. Basically, those 21 players will either be playing for the RailCats or out of baseball, unless the RailCats trade that player or sell his contract to a major league organization.
The RailCats can have up to 28 players under contract during spring training (the regular season roster limit is 22) and can also have non-roster players with them during those two weeks in early May. So the RailCats will still be plenty busy this winter, likely filling at least the seven spots they have available and maybe more, as some of the ‘Cats announce their intentions for 2009.
As for the players whose options were not picked up, they can hit the free agent market if they decide to continue their professional careers. Two 2008 RailCats – pitchers Brian Forystek and Travis Kerber – have announced their retirement (this is Kerber’s second, not that we’re counting), and it is possible that others could go that direction as well.
Elsewhere in the Northern League, some player option decisions had more significant consequences. Take Winnipeg, where the Fish declined the options on veteran stars Kevin West, Tydus Meadows and, most notably, shortstop Max Poulin. The slick-fielding Poulin came to the Goldeyes in 2001 and has likely seen his decorated eight-year Winnipeg career come to an end.