NEW YORK – Houston outfielder George Springer, New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu and Philadelphia catcher J.T. Realmuto were among just six free agents who received $18.9 million qualifying offers on Sunday from their former teams.
Three right-handed pitchers also received the offers, Cincinnati’s Trevor Bauer, the New York Mets’ Marcus Stroman and San Francisco's Kevin Gausman.
Those six players have until 5 p.m. on Nov. 11 to accept the offers or press ahead as free agents, who could start negotiating contracts with all teams on Sunday night.
They are the only ones subject to compensation among the 181 players who became free agents in a market that also includes pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, outfielder Marcell Ozuna, shortstop Didi Gregorius and designated hitter Nelson Cruz.
A brutal market is expected, with many teams likely to cut payrolls following a regular season played with no fans in the seats due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
If a team makes a qualifying offer to a player who signs a major league contract with another club before the June amateur draft, his former club would receive a draft pick as compensation at the end of the first round or at the end of competitive balance round B. The placement depends on whether the new contract is worth $50 million or more and the revenue-sharing and luxury tax status of the team losing the player.
A free agent could be made a qualifying offer only if he had been with the same team continuously since opening day and had never received a qualifying offer before.
Qualifying offers began after the 2012 season, and only five of 90 offers have been accepted: New York Mets second baseman Neil Walker and Philadelphia pitcher Jeremy Hellickson after the 2016 season; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu after the 2018 season and Chicago White Sox first baseman José Abreu last season. Abreu later agreed to a $50 million, three-year contract.
The qualifying offer price started at $13.3 million in 2012 and rose to $14.1 million in 2013, $15.3 million in 2014, $15.8 million in 2015, $17.2 million in 2016 and $17.4 million in 2017.
New York Yankees designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton and Boston DH J.D. Martinez kept their contracts rather than go free and test the market following subpar seasons.
Stanton is owed $218 million for seven seasons and Martinez $38.75 million for two years.
Stanton, who turns 31 on Nov. 8, hit .266 with 38 homers and 100 RBIs in his first season with the Yankees in 2018. He batted .288 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 2019, when he was limited to 18 games by a left biceps strain that sidelined him from April 1 to June 18 and a right knee strain that kept him out from June 26 to Sept. 18.
Stanton hit .250 with four homers and 11 RBIs in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, limited to 23 games by a left hamstring strain that sidelined him from Aug. 9 to Sept. 15. He rebounded to become the Yankees’ best offensive player in the playoffs, hitting .308 (8 for 26) with six homers and 13 RBIs in seven games.
Martinez gets $19,375,000 in each of the next two seasons and can opt out after 2021.
Martinez hit a career-low .213 in the pandemic-shortened season with seven homers and 27 RBIs, his lowest output since 2013. His salary was cut from $23.75 million to a prorated $8,796,296.
Boston declined a $6.85 million option on left-hander Martín Pérez and opted to pay a $500,000 buyout to the 29-year-old, who became a free agent. Perez was 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA in 12 starts, striking out 46 and walking 28 in 62 innings in his first season with Boston after leaving Minnesota as a free agent. He had a $6 million salary, reduced to $2,222,222 in prorated pay.
Reliever Dellin Betances exercised his $6 million player option with the Mets, deciding against taking a $3 million buyout and becoming a free agent. A 6-foot-8 right-hander who turns 33 on March 23, Betances signed with the Mets last December for a deal that guaranteed $10.5 million. A four-time All-Star during seven seasons with the New York Yankees, Betances slumped to a 7.71 ERA in 15 relief appearances with the Mets, walking 12 and striking out 11 in 11 2/3 innings.
Earlier, Mets reliever Brad Brach exercised his $2,075,000 player option for next season.
Arizona exercised a $4.25 million option on pitcher Merrill Kelly rather than pay a $500,000 buyout, and Baltiore exercised a $3.5 million option on shortstop José Iglesias rather than pay a $500,000 buyout.
Houston exercised an option on left-hander Brooks Raley calling for a $2 million salary in the major leagues and a $250,000 salary in the minors, and San Diego declined a $3 million option on first baseman Mitch Moreland, which calls for a $500,000 buyout.
Raley was 0-1 with a 3.94 ERA and one save in 17 relief appearances and pitched scoreless relief in five of six playoff appearances. He entered with a tie score in Game 3 of the Division Series against Oakland and allowed a pair of sacrifice flies in a 9-7 loss.
Moreland hit .203 with two homers and eight RBIs in 69 at-bats for San Diego, which acquired him from Boston on Aug. 30, and was 4 for 8 with an RBI in the playoffs. He batted .328 with eight homers and 21 RBIs for the Red Sox, and had $925,926 in prorated pay from a $2.5 million salary.
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