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Tim Beckham still has an Option remaining

The back-up middle infielder race just got a whole lot more interesting

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

After undergoing an extensive investigative process that even the Dark Knight would envy, we have discovered that the favorite to land the team's 25th spot on the active roster, Tim Beckham, still has options remaining -- possibly removing his "favorite" status.

This means that the Rays could simply option him to Durham at the end of spring, rather than having to expose him to the waiver wire, in which he would surely be plucked by another club.

A player receives three option years in his rookie contract that go into the effect the moment they're added to the team's 40-man roster. An option is only used if a player is sent down at any point in the season and spends more than 20 days on the minor league roster.

Also, when a player is sent down, they must spend at least 10 days in the minors during that stint for an option to have been used. A player can be optioned back and forth as many times as a team needs during a season, as long as it's an option eligible season for that player.

Beckham was added to the Rays 40-man roster in November of 2012 in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. The club would use his first option that spring as they reassigned him to minor league camp.

He made his major league debut in September of 2013 and looked primed to make the team's opening day roster in 2014; however, a torn ACL suffered in the off-season derailed those plans and allowed the Rays to place him on the disabled list for most of the season.

Eventually, the Rays used his second option year in 2014, activating him and sending him to Durham on August 10th until the season's end -- more than 20 days.

In 2015, he was optioned in May, but was called back up just three days later when James Loney went back on the disabled list, so the option didn't count.

Beckham then, himself, was injured and spent time on the disabled list. He'd be activated and optioned towards late June, but returned by mid July in a stint that lasted 15 days, giving him 18 days totals. Beckham concluded the year on the major league roster, which means that his options to Durham did not meet the 20 day theshold. They do not count.

So, heading into the 2016 season, Tim Beckham still has one option year remaining, thus re-opening the door for Nick Franklin and Taylor Motter to potentially break camp with the Rays. It also makes the race towards opening day that much more exciting to watch as we see how each player performs down the stretch.