For those not familiar, here is a quick excerpt from the MLB on options; how they work, and what happens when a player is out of options:
Players on a 40-man roster are given three Minor League “options.” An option allows that player to be sent to the Minor Leagues (“optioned”) without first being subjected to waivers. Players who are optioned to the Minors are removed from a team’s active 26-man roster but remain on the 40-man roster.
A player who is on the 40-man roster but does not open the season on the 26-man roster or the injured list must be optioned to the Minor Leagues. Once an optioned player has spent at least 20 days in the Minors in a given season, he loses one of his options. Only one Minor League option is used per season, regardless of how many times a player is optioned to and from the Minors over the course of a given season. Out-of-options players must be designated for assignment — which removes them from the 40-man roster — and passed through outright waivers before being eligible to be sent to the Minors.
Heading into 2021, the Braves have five players that are out of options. The most notable one is Tyler Matzek, but I don’t find it likely that the team ever decides to designate him for assignment unless he develops a severe case of the yips again.
Luke Jackson and Grant Dayton are the two other relievers that are out of options, and I could see both of them being DFA’d at some point in 2021. Dayton might not even make it to Opening Day, and while I’m still a member of the Luke Jackson fan club, there’s a chance he finds himself in a similar predicament. The Braves have a ton of bullpen options, and Jackson was brutal in 2020. He needs to show signs of a bounce-back in Spring Training and early on in the season, or he could find himself playing elsewhere.
The last two players that are out of options are outfielders Abraham Almonte and Phillip Ervin. These two are currently battling for a spot on the Opening Day roster, and it’s doubtful that both of them make it, so at least one of them — if not both — will be DFA’d before the start of the season.
However, remember, just because a player is DFA’d does not necessarily mean the Braves will lose them. Teams have the opportunity to claim them on waivers, but if nobody does, the Braves can choose to send them to AAA or release them all together.