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Ryan Langerhans' Contract

This isn't a big deal at all, but it's been a source of some confusion, and it just came up again on Twitter, so I might as well address it. Ryan Langerhans, as we know, is out of options. When a player is out of options, that means that, if his team wants to send him to the minors, he has to clear waivers first. On waivers, he's available for anyone to grab, provided the claiming team sticks the player on the Major League roster. Should the player clear waivers without being claimed, however - as just happened with Yusmeiro Petit - he'll be off to his designated minor league stop.

Seems pretty straightforward. But what many people have noticed while surfing Cot's is that Langerhans has something called a split contract. So the question then becomes - does that mean the Mariners could send him to AAA without exposing him to waivers?

The answer is, no, they can't. All a split contract is is a contract stipulating different Major and minor league salaries. From Cot's:

Ryan Langerhans of
1 year/$0.525M (2010)

  • 1 year/$0.525M (2010)
    • re-signed by Seattle as a free agent 12/18/09
    • split contract paying $90,000 in minors

What this means is that Langerhans would get paid at one rate in the Majors, and a lower rate in AAA. That's all. If he spends all year in Seattle (or with another big league club), he'll make $0.525m. If he spends half the year in the bigs and half the year in the minors, he'll make something like $0.3075m. The studious reader will note that Langerhans had a split contract last year, too. Lots of guys sign split contracts. Split contracts don't have anything to do with options. My understanding is that it's just about money.

So, no, we didn't buy an extra option year for Langerhans or anything. If we want to send him to Tacoma, he'll still have to clear waivers. And were he to clear, he would simply offer the team a little bit of salary relief.