Baseball's offseason starts quicker than usual
November 2, 2010
NEW YORK (AP) -- Baseball's offseason market got busy even faster than usual Tuesday, with teams forced to make quick decisions on contract options as they prepare offers to a relatively weak free-agent class headed by Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford.
Under modifications agreed to by players and owners in September, free agents can start negotiating with all clubs on the sixth day after the World Series, which is Sunday, rather than the 16th.
Teams and players must decide single options by the third day after the World Series. For mutual options, the side making the first decision must act by the second day, with the other party deciding by the fourth.
Lee is the top available pitcher on the free-agent market, and the New York Yankees are set to pursue him.
Traded from Seattle to Texas during the season, Lee helped the Rangers reach the World Series for the first time, and Rangers president Nolan Ryan hopes to re-sign him.
Crawford also is expected to be highly sought-after, with the Los Angeles Angels and Yankees thought to be interested in the speedy outfielder.
The Yankees hope to re-sign their trio of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte -- who still hasn't decided whether to pitch next year or retire.
Other free agents include Philadelphia right fielder Jayson Werth, Boston catcher Victor Martinez, White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, Tampa Bay slugger Carlos Pena and closer Rafael Soriano, and Angels designated hitter Hideki Matsui.
Texas must make a quick decision on whether to exercise its half of a $9 million mutual option on Vladimir Guerrero or pay the designated hitter a $1 million buyout.
In a sign the market might be tight after the top free agents, Arizona declined a $7.5 million option on first baseman Adam LaRoche on Tuesday. He gets a $1.5 million buyout after hitting .261 with 25 homers and 100 RBIs in his first season with the Diamondbacks.
Milwaukee declined a $7.5 million mutual option on career saves leader Trevor Hoffman, who gets a $750,000 buyout. The 43-year-old reliever, who has 601 saves, struggled in May and lost his closer's role to rookie John Axford. The Brewers also declined a $6.5 million option on left-hander Doug Davis and a $2.25 million option on catcher Gregg Zaun, who both were injured for most of the season. Davis gets a $1 million buyout and Zaun $250,000.
Atlanta exercised $2.5 million options on infielders Alex Gonzalez and Omar Infante, and declined a $6 million option on outfielder Rick Ankiel and a $5.25 million option on right-hander Kyle Farnsworth. They both came to Atlanta in a July 31 trade with Kansas City. Farnsworth gets a $250,000 buyout.
The Chicago White Sox agreed to a $1.75 million, one-year contract with 43-year-old infielder Omar Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove winner.
Detroit declined a $7.25 million option on shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who gets a $250,000 buyout and may re-sign with the Tigers.
Baltimore declined Mark Hendrickson's $1.2 million option and will pay a $200,000 buyout to the 36-year-old left-hander, who was 1-6 with a 5.26 ERA in 52 games this year.
Among players eligible for arbitration, San Diego exercised a $5.9 million option on All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and Atlanta agreed to a $750,000, one-year contract with right-hander Scott Proctor, who had a 6.35 ERA in 5 2-3 innings with the Braves as he began his comeback from 2009 elbow surgery.