The Marlins used that wiggle room on Tuesday, and it came at the expense of reliable long reliever Burke Badenhop.
After a 4-2 comeback win over the Cardinals, Florida optioned Badenhop to Triple-A New Orleans.
By making a tough call, the club solidified its bullpen for the season, which begins on Friday night against the Mets at Sun Life Stadium.
"I think you can put it into the 'not fair' category," Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said.
Badenhop, who will earn $750,000 this season, became expendable because he has options left, meaning the right-hander can be sent up and down over the course of the season.
"They said, 'Unfortunately, you've got to wear it,'" Badenhop said. "I understand that. I hope it provides us with a little bit of depth. Guys go through the bullpen, in and out. At the same time, it's a tough pill to swallow. Did [I] know that this is an option? I guess, yeah. Any time you have options, this is an option."
Brian Sanches and Edward Mujica are both out of options, and if they didn't make the Opening Day roster, they certainly would have left the organization in the waiver process.
"We weren't prepared to trade away any of our relievers, or expose them on the waiver wire," Beinfest said. "We want to keep our inventory. We like our guys here. This was the vehicle to keep all of our guys. Unfortunately for Burke, barring anything happening in the next 72 hours, he will be starting in Triple-A."
The business side of the game caught up to Badenhop, who clearly pitched well enough to make the team. His Grapefruit League ERA is 2.13 after he tossed a scoreless one-third of an inning on Tuesday.
"I understand it," Badenhop said. "You're going to lose Brian [Sanches] on waivers. You're going to lose Mujica on waivers. You can keep me. You have to be professional about it. You have to gather yourself. We're nine innings from the season being upon you, and this one is kind of thrown on you."
2010 Spring Training - null
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
The Marlins' roster, which now stands at 26, will be finalized after Wednesday's Grapefruit League finale against the Mets in Port St. Lucie.
The team has to be at 25 by 11 a.m. ET on Thursday. Catcher John Baker is expected to be placed on the disabled list on Wednesday, which will set the Opening Night roster.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Marlins made four other moves that clarified who would be among the team's 13 position players.
The most telling transaction was the reassignment of veteran outfielder Dewayne Wise to Minor League camp. That clears the way for Scott Cousins to make the team as the fourth outfielder.
Wise, a terrific defensive player, has been bothered by a sprained left big toe for about 10 days. He visited the doctor on Monday, and because of the inflammation, it's not clear if he will be ready for the opening of the Triple-A season.
Wise also has an "out clause" that he could exercise and become a free agent. The Marlins are hopeful that he will accept the assignment, get healthy and perhaps be a candidate for a callup during the season.
"[Wise] had a great Spring Training," manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "He showed what I expected from him. He was a good presence on the field. He made a very good impression on us. We let him know. Hopefully, he will accept the assignment."
The Marlins' rotation will feature Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Javier Vazquez, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad.
The projected starting lineup is Chris Coghlan (center field), Omar Infante (second base), Hanley Ramirez (shortstop), Mike Stanton (right field), Gaby Sanchez (first base), Logan Morrison (left field), John Buck (catcher) and Donnie Murphy (third base).
The bench projects to feature Cousins, Greg Dobbs, Brett Hayes, Wes Helms and Emilio Bonifacio.
Wise, a non-roster invitee, was a front-runner to be on the squad, simply because the team ideally preferred to have Cousins play every day in the Minors rather than getting spot action in the big leagues.
"That was the discussion," Rodriguez said. "We know there is more Cousins can bring than just being the fourth outfielder. I think Cousins has a higher ceiling, and that's why I think playing every day will just make him better."
Cousins, a left-handed hitter and thrower, promises to see playing time as a defensive replacement in the late innings. Rodriguez plans on using Cousins in the field while Coghlan recovers from tendinitis in his right shoulder.
"Cousins might be the guy late in the game, especially with Coghlan's arm," Rodriguez said.
"I worked extremely hard this offseason, trying to solidify a spot on this 25-man roster," Cousins said. "Fortunately, things are going my way right now, and I'm on that team. I really feel like I've done everything I can do in the Minor Leagues, and that I've proven myself there. Personally, I think I'm ready to help the big league club win."
Also on Tuesday, the Marlins optioned catcher Brad Davis and infielder Ozzie Martinez to Triple-A New Orleans. Right-hander Jhan Marinez was optioned to Double-A Jacksonville.
As for the bullpen, the only pitchers with options are Badenhop, Mike Dunn and Ryan Webb.
The seven relievers expected to break camp are closer Leo Nunez, Clay Hensley, Ryan Webb, Randy Choate, Mike Dunn, Mujica and Sanches.
Badenhop said that the relievers occasionally talked about who might go.
"We talked about it, that somebody has to be the guy," the right-hander said. "Unfortunately, my card was called."