Free agency officially began on Sunday as 131 players fulfilled the terms of their contracts, but there’s a five-day wait before negotiations can begin with new teams. November 10 is the deadline by which players and teams must decide on options, but most of the big names saw no need to wait. Per a release from the MLBPA, nine players have opted out of their deals to become free agents.
.@MLBPA Release: Nine Additional Players Become XX(B) Free Agents
— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) November 7, 2022
Even though these were all expected, it’s still a very impressive list that features several of the top available players on the market. Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Jacob deGrom, and Carlos Rodón are probably all ranked in the top 10 by just about every outlet and they will be raking in some serious cheddar. Nelson Cruz, Zach Davies, and Robert Suarez don’t have quite the same impact, but Taijuan Walker and Jurickson Profar will have their share of suitors.
The other very important wrinkle here is that November 10 is also the deadline by which teams must extend qualifying offers, with the players then getting 10 days to decide whether to accept or decline. Bogaerts, deGrom, and Rodón are sure to receive and decline them, and Walker may get one as well. Willson Contreras, who was granted free agency as part of that big initial wave, will also get a QO.
Once viewed as an auto-decline, the QO has become a little more acceptable of late because of its value on two different fronts. A $19.65 million salary is nothing to sneeze at, especially when the penalties attached to it can suppress a player’s market. That won’t matter for the elite-level free agents, but it could really hamper someone like Contreras.
A player who is young enough to still score a big long-term deal the next season might see the QO as a good opportunity because getting one means they can’t be saddled with it again. That helps Correa, who turned down the Astros’ offer last year and now hits free agency unencumbered. The White Sox didn’t see fit to offer Rodón, who is now sure to get one from the Giants.
In between the deadlines to extend and decide on offers are two more very important dates. November 15 is when teams must set their 40-man rosters to protect eligible prospects from the Rule 5 Draft, a much earlier date than its previous range in early December. Three days later is the non-tender deadline, after which a few valuable arbitration-eligible players will become free agents because their teams aren’t willing to pay them.
I am contractually obligated to remind you that the Cubs non-tendered Kyle Schwarber in 2021 rather than pay him approximately $10 million. Now that the situation has shifted at Wrigley, Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins will be scouring the market for players who’ve been cut loose via non-tender, DFA, or team declination of an option. I’d like to see them check on Kolten Wong if the Brewers let him go.
Anyway, there will be a whole lot of posturing and maneuvering over the next 13 days as teams try to figure out who will be available at what costs. The news cycle is picking up in a big way already, but it’ll hit overdrive once we get past November 20. Fasten those seatbelts, Cubs fans.