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Qualifying offers, options, and opt-out decisions kick off MLB free agent season

November 4 is decision day. Track all the decisions here!

League Championship Series - St Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals - Game Three Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

November 4, five days after the end of the 2019 World Series, is the deadline for clubs or players to exercise contract options for the 2020 season. It’s also the deadline for players to serve notice if they intend to opt out of their contracts (if their contract has such a clause), and for teams to make a qualifying offer of $17.8 million to their own free agents for the 2020 season if they hope to receive draft pick compensation should the player sign with another team.

Under the terms of the latest collective bargaining agreement (CBA), teams who lose a qualified free agent will receive a supplemental round draft pick between the first and fourth rounds as compensation. Teams who sign a qualified free agent must pay compensation in the form of their second to sixth highest selections, and possibly some international bonus pool money. This only applies to the highest qualified free agent players. Players will have until November 14 to accept or reject a qualifying offer. The Detroit Tigers have five free agents, but none are in consideration for a qualifying offer.

There are over 100 players who are free agents. Another 60 players have options that either the club or the player must exercise or decline. Only then will the full extent of the free agent market fully take shape.

So let’s dive right in.

Last update: November 4, 2019, 8:00 PM EST

Potential 2020 Qualifying Offers

Player Position Team Notes Result
Player Position Team Notes Result
Gerrit Cole SP Astros Offered
Anthony Rendon 3B Nationals Offered
Stephen Strasburg SP Nationals Opted out of current contract Offered
JD Martinez DH Red Sox Potential opt out (3 years, $62.5M) Declined to opt out
Aroldis Chapman RP Yankees Agreed to contract extension Extended
Josh Donaldson 3B Braves Offered
Madison Bumgarner SP Giants 10 and 5 rights vested Offered
Zack Wheeler SP Mets Offered
Ryan Zimmerman 1B Nationals Team declined $ 18M option Not offered
Jose Abreu 1B White Sox Offered
Didi Gregorious SS Yankees Not offered
Cole Hamels SP Cubs Not offered
Marcell Ozuna OF Cardinals Offered
Jake Odorizzi SP Twins Offered
Will Smith RP Giants Offered

The top eight players on the list above are virtually certain to receive qualifying offers. The other players are strong possibilities. The NationalsAnthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg, and the AstrosGerrit Cole, are the hottest free agents this winter. Each will receive a qualifying offer, and will decline the offers.

Jake Odorizzi is an interesting case with the Minnesota Twins. Coming off a fine season, the Twins would love to keep him, although the qualifying offer is pricey. He surely would not want to enter free agency with draft pick compensation attached to him.

Will Smith is a good reliever who, like most relievers, has no business getting a salary of $17.8 million for one year, but this could be his only shot at another multi-year contract, so he seems likely to decline the offer if the San Francisco Giants risk making one. They didn’t trade him at the deadline, perhaps thinking that a compensation pick was the least they’d get for him.

Keep in mind that players who were traded during the season, such as Nicholas Castellanos, or those who have received qualifying offers previously, are not eligible to receive a qualifying offer. Ineligible players include Nicholas Castellanos, Edwin Encarnacion, Yasmani Grandal, Yasiel Puig, Dallas Keuchel, and Hyun-Jin-Ryu.

Here are the players who can opt out with multiple seasons remaining, or exercise a player option for 2020.

Last update: November 4, 2019, 8:00 PM EST

Player Options and Opt Outs

Player Position Team Remaining Contract Result
Player Position Team Remaining Contract Result
Aroldis Chapman RP Yankees 2 yrs/ $30M Extended
Steven Strasburg SP Nationals 4 yrs/ $100M Opted out
J.D. Martinez DH Red Sox 3 yrs/ $62.5M Declined opt out
Kenley Jansen RP Dodgers 2 yrs/ $38M Declined opt out
Yu Darvish SP Cubs 4 yrs/ $81 M Declined opt out
Jason Heyward OF Cubs 4 yrs/ $86 M Declined opt out
Jake Arrieta SP Phillies 1 yr/ $20 M Declined opt out
Yasmani Grandal C Brewers 1 yr/ $16 M Opted out
Tony Watson RP Giants 1 yr/ $2.5 M Exercised option
Brad Brach RP Mets 1 yr/ $1.35 M DFA'ed

J.D. Martinez could opt out of the three years and $62.5 million remaining on his contract with the Boston Red Sox, in which case the club would make a qualifying offer as he hits the free agent market looking for a more lucrative deal. Boston, being suddenly cost conscious, reportedly sat down with Martinez and his agent but did not offer an extension. He might be better off staying put.

Stephen Strasburg has opted out of his remaining four years and $100 million on his contract with the Nationals, and will now receive a qualifying offer, which he will obviously decline.

Chapman was all set to opt out as he tried to negotiate an extension with the Yankees. The two sides agreed to add one season at $18 million salary to the end of his current contract.

Jansen struggled late in the season, leaving the Dodgers to wonder if they need another closer, so he’s not likely to chance free agency.

Club Options and Buyouts

By far, the greatest number of contract options are straight club options. Most of these options come with a buyout that is paid to the player if the club declines their option. There are also some “mutual options” which require both the player and club to extend the contract for another season at a pre-determined price, which almost never happens. It’s a way of deferring some salary to the next season.

Here are the club and mutual options. We will try to update as news rolls in.

Last update: November 4, 2019, 8:00 PM EST

MLB Club Options for 2020

Player Position Team Option Amount Buyout Result
Player Position Team Option Amount Buyout Result
Alex Gordon LF Royals $23M $4 M Declined
Edwin Encarnacion DH Yankees $20M $1M Declined
Ryan Zimmerman 1B Nationals $18M $2M Declined
Corey Kluber SP Indians $17M $1M Exercised
Jason Kipnis 2B Indians $16.5M $2.5M Declined
Starlin Castro IF Cubs $16M $1M Declined
Anthony Rizzo 1B Cubs $14.5M $2M Exercised
Kole Calhoun OF Angels $14M $1M Declined
Jedd Gyrko IF Dodgers $13M $1M Declined
Brandon Morrow RP Cubs $12M $3M Declined
Nelson Cruz DH Twins $12M $300,000 Exercised
Julio Teheran SP Braves $12M $1M Declined
Jose Quintana SP Cubs $11.5M $1M Exercised
Starling Marte OF Pirates $11.5M $2M Exercised
Mike Moustakas IF Brewers $11M $3M Player declined
Andrew Cashner SP Red Sox $10M $1M Declined
Adam Eaton OF Nationals $9.5M $1.5M Exercised
Yan Gomes C Nationals $9M $1M Declined
Chase Anderson RP Brewers $8.5M $500,000 Exercised by Toronto
Chris Archer SP Pirates $8.5M $1.75M Exercised
Juan Lagares OF Mets $9.5M $500,000 Declined
Jason Vargas SP Phillies $8M $2M Declined
Welington Castillo C Rangers $8M Declined
Eric Thames OF Brewers $7.5M $1M Declined
Martin Perez SP Twins $7.5M $500,000 Declined
Sean Doolittle RP Nationals $6.5M - Exercised
Derek Holland SP Cubs $6.5M $500,000 Declined
Tyler Flowers C Braves $6M $2M Extended
Nick Markakis OF Braves $6M $2M Extended
Mike Dunn RP Rockies $6M $1M DFA'ed
Wilmer Flores 2B Arizona $6M $500,000 Declined
Billy Hamilton OF Braves $7.5M $1M Club declined
Jake Diekman RP A's $5.75M - Club declined
Freddy Galvis SS Reds $5.5M - Exercised
Yusmeiro Petit RP A's $5.5M - Exercised
David Phelps RP Cubs $5 M - Declined
Wade LeBlanc SP Mariners $5M $450,000 Declined
Matt Adams 1B Nationals $4M $1M Declined
Jared Hughes RP Phillies $3M $250,000 Declined
Tony Barnette RP Cubs $3M - Declined
Kendall Graveman RP Cubs $3M - Declined
Chris Devenski RP Astros $2.725M - Declined
Oliver Perez RP Indians $2.5M - Vested
Aaron Loup RP Padres $2M - Declined
Manny Pina RP Brewers $1.85M $150,000 Exercised
Dan Otero RP Indians $1.5M $100,000 Declined

This list is compiled from information available across multiple web sites including MLB Trade Rumors, Roster Resource, and Cot’s Contracts. We will try to update this along the way, with a big update on Monday evening when all the decisions are due.