Devin Mesoraco was optioned to AAA Louisville yesterday for relief pitcher J.J. Hoover. Unless he’s replacing an injured player, Mesoraco will have to stay in the minors for 10 days, which has fans questioning his availability on the Reds playoff roster.

Under Major League Rule 40 (a), the pool of players eligible for the postseason consists of the 25 players on the active roster and any players on the disabled, bereavement, suspended or military lists before midnight ET on August 31.

So, there is a concern. Barring an injury to another player, Mesoraco will not be on the 25-man roster, the DL, or any other automatic eligible player list. HOWEVER, there is an exception to the rule. Even though Devin will be in the minor leagues on September 1st, Mesoraco could still be part of the pool of playoff eligible players. I’ve have confirmed this in many places online, but I think Baseball Prospectus lays it out most clearly:

If an eligible player cannot play in a post-season series because of injury, his club may petition the Commissioner’s office to replace him with any player who was in the organization on August 31, provided the replacement was included on the roster of a minor-league affiliate at the end of the major-league season.

So, any player on the DL at the end of the season, who remains unavailable for postseason play, can be replaced in the player pool with any other player in the organization, provided that the player wasn’t added to the Reds or a minor league affiliate in September.

If today was September 1st, that would mean that the 25 players active today would be in the playoff pool, along with Joey Votto, Nick Masset, Bill Bray, and Ryan Madson. That’s 29 playoff eligible players that the Reds could choose from each round. (Once you get to October, the team can select its 25 players each round)

Madson is certainly not coming back to pitch this season, so his roster spot in the playoff pool is available to Devin Mesoraco, Logan Ondrusek, or Billy Hamilton. If Bill Bray or Nick Masset were unable to return from the DL, then their spots would be available to be filled by minor league players, too.

Now the Reds just need to put the division away and get back to the playoffs!

UPDATED with Baker’s comments from John Fay:

The Reds still plan on having Devin Mesoraco on the postseason roster.

“We’re hoping so,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We’re hoping that’s what the final outcome is. It depends on him. It depends on the progress he makes. We really want to stress it had nothing to do with his suspension.

“This has been dabbled about for a while. You could see his confidence had gone down some. We want him to get his confidence back — offensively, defensively, throwing, all kind of ways. I had a long chat with him. He’s struggled before but he always comes back.”