Today was decision day for a list of players headed towards free agency. Josh Hamilton of the Rangers, Michael Bourn of the Braves, Kyle Lohse of the Cardinals, Adam LaRoche of the Nationals, B.J. Upton of the Rays and Hiroki Kuroda, Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher of the Yankees all rejected qualifying offers from their respective teams and are now free to test their value on the open market.
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz had previously re-signed with the club.
The Red Sox were able to come to terms with Ortiz on a two-year $26 million contract on Monday.
Under the new system, free agents had to be offered contracts, not just arbitration, worth at least the average of the top 125 player salaries from 2012 — $13.3 million. By extending qualifying offers teams guarantee themselves compensation for a player signing with a new team.
Teams still have an opportunity to bring players back, although in most cases it’s not very likely.
Upton who has spent his entire career with Tampa Bay as already drawn interest from several teams, most prominently the Philadelphia Phillies. “This decision doesn’t preclude us from continuing our dialogue with B.J.,” Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in an e-mail. “All it does is ensure that we receive something of value if B.J. signs elsewhere.”
Ironically, Tampa Bay has emerged as a possible destination for Upton’s brother, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton. Tampa Bay has a surplus of starting pitching which is almost always the impetus for this type of speculation.
“It was a formality for us,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said of the qualifying offer. “Josh wasn’t taking a one-year paycut.
“We know all the possible ways it can play. Josh has intimated that we’d get an option. We’d talk before he does something. I’d expect we’ll talk before he does something.”
The Rangers are reportedly willing to re-sign Hamilton but are not willing to meet his demands, making his return to Texas extremely unlikely. Hamilton has indicated he’s seeking a seven-year, $175 million deal.