by Ryan Potter
The new collective bargaining agreement has provided some additional intrigue for this year’s MLB offseason. Teams are now allowed to make a “qualifying offer” to players when their contracts are set to expire. The value of a qualifying offer is equal to the average of the top 125 highest-paying contracts (about $13.3M). If a player declines a qualifying offer and then signs with a new team, that team gives up it’s highest draft pick (unless it’s a top 10 pick) in the upcoming draft to the player’s former team as compensation. Because the value of a qualifying offer is often more than a player’s actual value, not many players receive an offer. Only 9 of the 165 MLB free agents were made a qualifying offer. Now that we all understand the process of free agency, let’s get to the news.
Outfielder Nick Swisher, set-up man Rafael Soriano and starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda all declined the Yankees’ qualifying offers and elected to become free agents. GM Brian Cashman reportedly wasn’t surprised and expected the offers to be declined.
Kuroda, who posted a 16-11 record with a 3.32 ERA last season, has drawn significant interest from the Dodgers according to the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff.
The Yankees and Red Sox are pursuing free agent catcher Mike Napoli. New York is looking to replace Russell Martin, who left in free agency. Boston, who already have three catchers on their roster (David Ross, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnaway ), are looking at Napoli because of his ability to share first base duties with the aging David Ortiz. Napoli hit .227/.343/.469 with 24 home runs with the Texas Rangers in 2012.
Relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt inked a 3YR/$18M deal to remain with the San Francisco Giants after posting a 2.70 ERA and 8.1K/9 in 63 1/3 innings last season.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Rangers are expected to non-tender catcher Geovany Soto and pursue free agent catcher Russell Martin.
The Atlanta Braves are interested in free agent outfielder Torii Hunter, but the smart money is on him remaining in the American League where he can also be used as a designated hitter.
The Mets have agreed to an early expiration of outfielder Jason Bay’s contract. Bay posted an anemic .234 BA with just 26 HRs during his 3 seasons in New York.
The Dodgers look to continue their insane (and unsustainable) spending spree after winning negotiating rights to Korean left-handed pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu. The bid was believed to be around 25 million dollars. They have 30 days to work out a contract.
Ryan Potter can be reached on Twitter @RyanPotter26