September 1st is the day that many teams will call up their prospects (Glasnow) and veteran minor leaguers (Runzler). Prospects that are out of options will usually be called up to the major league squad. Service time is basically a non issue, and getting a guy acclimated to the majors is not a horrible thing.
The Pirates did not call up Nick Kingham. Nick Kingham is a prospect that is out of options. He has to make the major league squad next season, or else he will have to go through waivers (and after the past couple of weeks, nobody in Pittsburgh seems to like waivers). It doesn’t make sense that he wouldn’t be called up.
Or, maybe not. Kingham had a rough couple of years with injuries, and it sort of makes sense for them to take it easy on him. Transitioning from a starting role to a relief role probably isn’t the easiest, and with only a couple of weeks left there isn’t much of a point in subjecting him to that kind of stress.
Trying to get keep Kingham healthy is a valid reason for letting him have the rest of 2017 off. However, I looked into the issue a little bit more and found out players can sometimes be eligible to receive a 4th option. Players normally only receive 3 option years, and the Pirates have already used all 3 of Kingham’s. But, there is a rule in place that allows players to get an extra option year in certain cases. In Kingham’s case, he has missed enough time due to injury that it appears he will be eligible for a 4th option year.
If you wish to read more about the rule, I found this to be helpful.
To keep it short, if a player hasn’t had 5 full seasons, he is eligible for a 4th option. This is how a full season is defined: “a player accrues a “full season” when he spends at least 90 days on the Active List of an MLB and/or minor league club or clubs in a given season.”
Kingham began his career in 2010. However, 2010, 2011, 2015, and 2016 are not considered ‘full seasons’. However, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2017 are considered full seasons because he was on the active roster for longer than 90 days. So, he has only played in 4 full seasons.
This should make the move to keep Kingham out of the majors a little less puzzling. Kingham getting an extra option does a couple of things. One, it allows him to continue developing as a starting pitcher. Neal Huntington has said that he likes to have at least 8 guys that are capable of starting in the majors at any time. This year, Williams, Brault, and Hutchison were 6-7-8. Thankfully, only one was needed. But now, Brault and Hutchison’s futures are unclear. Hutchison may not be on the roster next year, and Brault may be a reliever. The Pirates will very much need Kingham as a depth option in 2018.
I’m almost certain that Kingham will get another option. The title of the post says “possibly” because I don’t know without a doubt that Kingham will receive a 4th option. However, all signs point to him getting another option. Keith Law also seems to agree, Kingham should be able to receive another option.