Free agency begins with five M’s hitting the market

MoralesSmile1

With the Red Sox clinching the World Series last night, MLB’s offseason offiicially begins today. And there is no time to be wasted on the MLB calendar as that means free agency is already underway for players not under contract.

For the Mariners,  five veterans became free agents today — outfielders Raul Ibanez and Endy Chavez, designated hitter Kendrys Morales (pictured), catcher Humberto Quintero and lefty reliever Oliver Perez.

Two other players — lefty Joe Saunders and outfielder Franklin Gutierrez — could become free agents if the Mariners don’t agree to options in their contracts that would bring them back in 2014.

The Mariners’ 40-man roster is now at 35 players with reliever Stephen Pryor still on the 60-day disabled list. Pryor will need to be put back on the 40-man by Monday.

I posted this story today on Mariners.com that outlines the Mariners’ offseason agenda with free agency and what positions are of greatest need and how much money figures to be available.

I also recommend this story by my MLB.com colleague Doug Miller as a good overview of the whole free-agent process and what to look for at different points this offseason.

Teams now have five days to exclusively negotiate and sign their own free agents. Then on the sixth day after the World Series — which will be next Tuesday – free-agent players can sign with any of the 30 Major League teams, including re-signing with their own team if they choose. 

The other option is for teams to make a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer to any of their own free agents. If the player turns that down, the team will receive a compensatory pick at the end of the first round of next June’s draft. Obviously such offers are only made to players who the team would be willing to pay that much money to if accepted, so it’s a pretty elite group that receivers offers.

Nine players around MLB got qualifying offers last year and all nine turned them down and later worked out longer-term deals either with their own teams or elsewhere. The Mariners are expected to make Morales a qualifying offer and he is expected to turn it down. Which, again, doesn’t mean he won’t return to Seattle. It just means he won’t return for a one-year, $14.1 million deal, but instead will look to see how much he can get on the open market.

The deadline for teams to make qualifying offers to their own free agents is 2 p.m. PT on the fifth day following the conclusion of the World Series (or this coming Monday). A player has until 2 p.m. PT on the seventh day after receiving the offer to accept it, which in this case makes Nov. 11 the latest date of acceptance.

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