I have continued to be baffled by the major league option rule the more and more I try to figure it out. My initial understanding of the rule was that a player could be sent to the minors from the majors for the first three years of his career, but it's actually a bit more complicated than that. This is why I went on an exhaustive search after seeing this tidbit in a DOB AJC blog:
Aybar, Langerhans, RHP Tyler Yates, RHP Jonathan Johnson.
Thorman's out of options, too, not that that's really relevant at this point.
A few key guys NOT OUT OF OPTIONS: Diaz, Kelly Johnson, Cormier.
I was baffled as to why Thorman was out of options when last year was his rookie year, and I was even more baffled as to how Cormier still had an option left. My exhaustive search began. I got some quality answers here.
Basically the three option years start from the time a player is put on the 40-man roster. So in the case of Scott Thorman, while he has only played in the majors for one year, he was nonetheless on the 40-man roster for three years. When a player is on the 40-man roster and doesn't see the majors in a particular season that still counts as an option year. Conversely if a player made the majors right after being added to the 40-man and stayed in the majors then he still has options left even after those first three years.
A player's three option years can be used for up to five years after he is added to the 40-man roster without the player's consent. And if he still has an option left after those five years it can still be used, albeit with the consent of the player. I'm also guessing that minor league rehab assignments are not a part of the option process, and that is the only way I can figure that Lance Cormier has an option left. He played in both the majors and the minors in 04, 05, and 06. The only catch to that may be in 05, when he pitched all of one game in the minors before being recalled - that one game must have somehow been a rehab assignment from an injury during the spring, and therefore 05 did not count as an option year for Corms.
Okay, hopefully that helps you to better understand options...I know it helped me. Now all we need is for Baseball-Reference or The Baseball Cube or someone to track every single transaction for every single player - then we can more easily determine if a player has options.
On a similar note, I had not realized that Jonathan Johnson is an older player who has pitched in the majors before. He's a pretty typical minor league journeyman who first pitched in the majors in 98. He was out of baseball for a couple of years from 04 to 05, no clue why. Of course, now I'm even more confused as to why we thought so much of him to put him on the 40-man roster.