Six Qualifying Offers Extended
On Sunday, players not under contract officially became free agents and were free to start signing with other teams. Now, baseball is not like football or basketball in that there is not a frenzy of signings as soon as players are eligible to do so. The offseason is much more of a slow burn, particularly in recent years. That said, we did get a little bit of news from this day as it was also the deadline for teams to extend a qualifying offer to their free agents. This year, the offer was worth $18.9 million. If a player declines it, the team gets draft pick compensation if/when he signs with another team while the team who signs the free agent loses a draft pick.
This year there were six players who received a qualifying offer from their old team. Those players were:
- Trevor Bauer, SP
- Kevin Gausman, SP
- Marcus Stroman, SP
- J.T. Realmuto, C
- DJ LeMahieu, INF
- George Springer, OF
On the position player side of things, any surprises came in the form of players who were not extended offers, not in the players who were. Realmuto, LeMahieu and Springer were all no-brainers to get the offer. The Red Sox could have interest in any of three of these players theoretically, though Springer is the most likely player of the trio. That said, I’m not sure I see them giving up their second round pick for a position player this winter. Some players who were seen as possibilities to get an offer that did not were Didi Gregorius, Michael Brantley and Marcus Semien.
The pitching side is much more interesting. Bauer was a no-brainer and is easily the top starting pitcher on the market this winter. I would at least expect the Red Sox to be involved in talks with the righty as the offseason moves along. Stroman and Gausman were a bit more surprising to me, though. The former didn’t pitch in 2020 while the latter had a big breakout in his first season with the Giants. Both seemed to be good second-tier options for Boston this winter, but if they do make it to free agency — there’s a possibility that either or both accepts the offer — the Red Sox may not see them as impactful enough for a second rounder.
These six players now have up to ten days to decide whether or not they will accept the offers.
Padres decline option for Mitch Moreland
Back in the summer, the Red Sox made one of the better deals of the deadline when they traded Mitch Moreland to the Padres for prospects Hudson Potts and Jeisson Rosario. The Padres got the veteran bench they needed for their playoff run while the Red Sox got two solid prospects. Moreland had an option for 2021 so it didn’t have to be a rental, but it turned out that way. On Sunday, the Padres officially declined to pick up the $3 million option, making Moreland a free agent.
This was a little bit surprising to me. Moreland certainly isn’t the kind of player that will make or break anything for San Diego in 2021, but for $2.5 million — they had to pay a $500,000 buyout — it seemed worth it to have a solid veteran bat on the bench, particularly after giving up a couple of prospects over the summer. It’s likely the lack of clarity around the DH in the National League last year played into this decision a bit.
Don’t be surprised if the Red Sox look at the possibility of bringing him back for another year as insurance for Bobby Dalbec. He may be able to get a bigger role elsewhere, but the Red Sox really like having Moreland around and Moreland really likes Boston. The team could really use a veteran, left-handed first baseman and Moreland brings that along with familiarity.