Wieters, Rasmus, Anderson accept qualifying offers; 17 others decline
NEW YORK — Houston outfielder Colby Rasmus, Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brett Anderson became the first three players to accept qualifying offers from their teams rather than remain free agents, and Boston obtained closer Craig Kimbrel from San Diego.
The trio of free agents, who agreed to the $15.8 million, one-year contracts Friday, were among 20 players given the offers Nov. 6. Another in the group, Toronto pitcher Marco Estrada, agreed to a $26 million, two-year contract that was announced just before the 5 p.m. EST deadline to accept qualifying offers.
None of the 34 qualifying offers was accepted in the first three years of baseball’s current collective bargaining agreement. The qualifying offer salary is determined by the average of the highest 125 contracts in the major leagues.
Among those who turned down the offer this year were second baseman Daniel Murphy (Mets) and right-hander Ian Kennedy (Padres). When a player fails to accept a qualifying offer and signs a big league contract elsewhere before June’s amateur draft, his former team gets an additional high selection as compensation. The signing club loses a top pick.
In a trade that followed this week’s general manager’s meetings, new Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made his first big move to rebuild the franchise after its third last-place finish in four years. The Red Sox sent outfielder Manuel Margot, infielders Javier Guerra and Carlos Asuaje, and left-hander Logan Allen to the Padres for Kimbrel, a four-time All-Star. Only Asuaje and Margot made it as high as Double-A last season.
Boston assumed $25 million remaining on Kimbrel’s contract but has him under control for up to three more seasons. Kimbrel, 27, went 4-2 with a 2.58 ERA in 61 appearances last season.
"Moving to the American League, I’m excited," Kimbrel said in a conference call with reporters. "It’s a league that has the big bats. And being a pitcher, you want a challenge of facing the big bats."
Among the free agents, the 29-year-old Rasmus hit .238 with a career-high 25 homers and 61 RBIs in his first season with the Astros. He had seven homers over 27 at-bats in his last nine games, including four in six postseason games.
"I’m just happy to be an Astro. It would have been nice obviously to have a long-term deal and whatnot, but I feel that it worked out pretty good," Rasmus said during a conference call. "It was in my heart and my wife’s heart to go to Houston."
Wieters played in 75 games last season after elbow ligament replacement surgery in 2014. He batted .267 with eight homers and 25 RBIs.
"For a one-year deal, there’s no place more comfortable than playing baseball for the Orioles," the 29-year-old said.
Asked whether his family tried to talk him out of accepting, Wieters said, "They know that I’m stubborn. When I make a decision, that’s it."
Anderson, a 27-year-old left-hander, was 10-9 with a 3.69 ERA.
Estrada gets a $1 million signing bonus payable by Jan. 29 and salaries of $11 million next year and $14 million in 2017. The 32-year-old right-hander went 13-8 with a 3.13 ERA in 2015, setting career bests for wins, ERA and opponents’ batting average. He was 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA in the playoffs, Toronto’s first postseason appearance since 1993.
"We obviously identified Marco as a priority to bring back after the season he had," Blue Jays interim general manager Tony LaCava said during a conference call. "He was a big part of our success. We think that he can maintain that level of performance, maybe not to the level that he did this year, but certainly someone we can count on going forward who can help us defend the AL East title."