Three opt-ins . . .

Tanka---opting to stay a Yankee . . .

Tanka—opting to stay a Yankee . . .

Opt-out clauses in player contracts often bewilder fans and sometimes wreak havoc, as did Alex Rodriguez when he exercised his during the 2007 World Series. Now they could wreak either benefit or havoc when players don’t exercise them. Consider these who’ve decided to stay put rather than opt out:

* Masahiro Tanaka—The Yankees right hander could have opted out of the final three years of his deal. Instead, he chose not to exercise the option. That takes a top of the line starting pitcher off the winter market. It also gives the Yankees a kind of hometown discount since Tanaka could have commanded more on the open market than the $67 million he’s due on the final three years.

Verlander’s new Houston life beats the Tigers’ continuing one

Verlander leans in for a sign. All signs are great for him in Houston now, just as they're painful for his old friends in Detroit . . .

Verlander leans in for a sign. All signs are great for him in Houston now, just as they’re painful for his old friends in Detroit . . .

Do you get the feeling Justin Verlander simply prefers to pitch for a team with a realistic postseason shot? It’s not that he’s throwing steaks past wolves even in an Astros uniform, but since he came to the Astros in a waiver period deal making him eligible for the postseason, Verlander’s looked strong enough that the Astros must be thinking about him opening a division series, no questions asked.

The Beltway clinches, and dreams awhile . . .

Adam Jones, flag-waving pie-man . . .

Adam Jones, flag-waving pie-man . . .

Adam Jones got a few Camden Yards fans a little pie-eyed—cream pied, that is. Bryce Harper plopped a personalised Washington, D.C. Fire Department helmet on his head and took selfies with teammates. Neither man had to be told otherwise that a possible Beltway World Series loomed ahead, depending upon how the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals handle themselves when the postseason launches.

Things to Keep in Mind as Opening Day Approaches

Can Doc heal himself?

Can Doc heal himself?

Yes, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ new ownership has spent the equivalent of two small nations’ gross domestic product. (Yes, I’m exaggerating—perhaps only slightly.) But no, and I’ll say it until the day I buy the rancho, it doesn’t mean they’re a lock for a 2013 World Series ring. If you still persist in believing money talks when it comes time to nail down the ring, I suggest you have yet another look at the New York Yankees and (pre-Madoff) Mets. For openers.

The Trade Winds, Continued, and Other Sobrieties

Don’t look for Justin Upton to move at the non-waiver trade deadline . . . or any other time this season, say the Arizona Diamondbacks. “Close to a 100 percent chance nothing happens,” as team president Derrick Hall phrases it.

Upton.

Among the clubs thought to be interested in landing the talented outfielder—who hit 31 bombs, landed an .898 OPS, and placed fourth in the National League’s MVP voting in 2011 but broke slow out of the proverbial box this season—were the Toronto Blue Jays, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Atlanta Braves, the Detroit Tigers, and the Texas Rangers. For his part, Upton has a no-trade clause that lists the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees, and the Cleveland Indians as destinations he can block.