David Hale admitted he was a “little worried” at first.
On Thursday, a flood of text messages came pouring in from friends asking what had happened. They said they had read the Yankees cut him. He saw it, too.
“It’s just a paperwork thing,” the 32-year-old pitcher said of what his agent told him to NJ.com.
Reports began circulating earlier in the day that the Yankees had released Hale from his minor-league deal, which included an invitation to this season’s big-league spring training. However, Hale said he and the Yankees just had to the change the language in his contract to work around an opt-out clause he had toward the end of when spring training was supposed to end.
It required the Yankees to release and then immediately re-sign Hale.
In Hale’s original deal, the Yankees had given him an opt-out clause that he could exercise four days before the end of spring training. But since MLB ended spring training early and pushed back Opening Day at least eight weeks due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the opt-out had to be disputed.
Since there wasn’t, at the time, an agreement between the league and the players union when spring training ended on March 12, long before the clause was set to become an option, Hale’s agent said it was on the Yankees to change it.
The Yankees obliged and drafted a new contract that gave Hale an opt-out for five days before whenever the start of the season ends up being scheduled for.
“The Yankees were very classy about it and I think it was the fair thing to do,” Hale told the website. “When those opt-outs came along, they were kind of pointless, with how spring training was canceled. Obviously, no one was going to use their opt-out. It was a pointless thing. So they were classy about it.”
Hale, who said he’s been working out at his home in Georgia, could make the Opening Day roster as a multi-inning arm out of the bullpen. His chances would be even higher in the likely event the league decides to expand rosters for at least the first months in hopes of combatting injuries and overuse.