Baseball may expand rosters to save money

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — The number of players on strike, currently 760, may increase later this week when active rosters expand to 40.

Unlike past work stoppages, when rosters were frozen, this time teams are free to make deals and move players up and down from the minors, which end their regular seasons Labor Day weekend. When active rosters expand Thursday, teams can recall players on optional assignments in the minors, such as pitcher Tim Wakefield.

While most players on option have split contracts, which specify one rate of pay in the minors and a higher rate in the majors, several have only a major league rate. That means teams can save about one-sixth of their salaries if they recall players and add them to the group already on strike.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have the most players in this category with four, including pitcher Randy Tomlin, whose $975,000 salary is the highest in this group. If he’s recalled Thursday, the Pirates would save $170,492. Tomlin was optioned to Buffalo on May 22 with an 0-3 record and a 3.92 ERA.

Other Pirates in a similar situation are Wakefield ($170,000),Blas Minor ($160,000) and Kevin Young ($160,000).

On other teams, players in this group include California’s Mike Butcher ($150,000), Texas outfielder David Hulse ($210,000), Cincinnati’s Tim Pugh ($170,000), Los Angeles’ Jose Offerman ($515,000) and Philadelphia’s Paul Quantrill ($235,000).

Eugene Orza, the No. 2 official of the players’ association, says the union will file a grievance if any of the players are recalled just to put them on strike.

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