With end of World Series, free agency begins
Teams have a five-day window after the end of the World Series to negotiate exclusively or make qualifying offers to their own free agents. On the sixth day, any unsigned players are able to negotiate with any of the 30 Major League clubs. That means players can sign with new teams as of 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday or 9:01 p.m. PT on Monday on the West Coast.
The Mariners free agents will be starting pitcher Chris Young (pictured), left-handed reliever Joe Beimel, catcher Humberto Quintero, first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales and outfielders Endy Chavez, Chris Denorfia and Franklin Gutierrez.
The Mariners aren’t expected to make qualifying offers to any of those players, with this year’s number at $15.3 million for a guaranteed one-year deal. Players extended a qualifying offer can reject that offer, but if they sign with another team their original club receives draft pick compensation.
Seattle’s most-marketable free agent would appear to be Young, who was named The Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year after going 12-9 with a 3.65 ERA in 30 games in his first fully healthy season since 2007.
The Mariners are interested in adding a veteran starting pitcher to a rotation that currently includes Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Roenis Elias, but Young’s solid season might have changed his market value enough that he’ll be looking for more money and years now than Seattle is willing to offer in their situation.
“I would love to be back,” Young said. “This was most fulfilling and gratifying season of my career. I’d love to be part of finishing what we’ve started there. That being said, I understand it’s a business and they’ve got a lot of good, young arms and it might not be in the best interest of the Mariners or vice versa.”
Zduriencik said the Mariners have interest in all their free agents. Beimel and Chavez both made the club last year on Minor League deals and filled valuable veteran roles, while Quintero was a September callup in the same scenario.
Zduriencik said Gutierrez has indicated a desire to return to baseball after sitting out 2014 due to lingering health issues. But after spending last year on the reserve list, Gutierrez would only be of interest to the Mariners as a non-roster invitee on a Minor League deal.
Denorfia was acquired at the July 31 Trade Deadline from the Padres for outfielder Abraham Almonte, but hit just .195 in 32 games with Seattle.
Morales figures to be an interesting offseason figure again as he tries to determine his market value. The veteran DH turned down Seattle’s $14.3 million qualifying offer last winter, then had to sit out the first two months of the season before landing with the Twins and eventually getting traded back to the Mariners.
But the late start hurt the 31-year-old’s timing and production and he batted .218 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs in 98 games, a far cry from the .277 average, 23 home runs and 80 RBIs he put up in 156 games with Seattle in 2013.
While Seattle can deal with its own free agents now, the real offseason interest figures to begin in five days when clubs can start pursuing others. Though few deals are struck immediately, that’s when the market will begin to play out for the 121 available free agents, which include Victor Martinez, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis, Melky Cabrera, Michael Cuddyer, Michael Morse and Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas, as well as pitchers Jon Lester, Jake Peavy and Ervin Santana.
Former Mariners Ichiro Suzuki, Munenori Kawasaki, Joe Saunders, Aaron Harang and Asdrubral Cabrera are among this year’s free agents as well. Here’s a complete list of the players eligible to file for free agency as of Thursday.
So stay tuned. The offseason has just officially begun.