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Ball Boy Talk- Club Option Free Agents

Updated: Nov 21, 2020

Today I want to go over some of the teams that did not exercise their club options on their players and predict where I think they could land. Free agency opens on November first.

To view the full list of all the free agents as of 10/28, click here:

Before we get too into the players, I want to talk about the WhiteSox hire of 76yo Hall of Famer Tony La Russa as their manager. He hasn't coached in 9 years in the MLB since 2011 with the Cardinals. There is a legit worry within the organization that La Russa won't connect with this team's youth. I think La Russa will get so much respect from this team and give insight on a different level to these young guys. I think the approach and time, and wisdom that La Russa has will be the biggest benefit to this team.

Biggest Fish:

OF- Geroge Springer: Leaving the Houston Astros and publically saying he wants out of Houston and doesn't want to return is something I am following. I think Springer wants a 4-7 year deal. With a team where he can be the leader and the superstar of the group. I think Miami is the best fit for Springer.

C- JT Realmuto- Wants to stay in Philadelphia but also wants to get paid. He is expected to take a long look between the Phillies and whoever gives him the most money and the best chance to win.

P- Trevor Bauer: Has been linked to all 30 teams. But the Padres are my favorite destination for Bauer.

P- Marcus Stroman: Called out the Yankees and said I am the next best thing you will get after Gerritt Cole, and I am in the same class as him. I like Stroman's fit to the Yankees as they have Tanaka, Paxton, and Happ all entering free agency.

2B- Kolten Wong- I am surprised by the Cardinals' move to at least exercise the option and then work out the long-term deal they said to be interested in with Wong. I do think the 30-year-old Wong will return to St-Louis Cardinals. But if he doesn't, his .265BA/.350OBP/.326SLG with a 14.4K%, 6 Defensive Runs Saved, and a 3.8 UZR. He could have many suitors behind DJ LeMahieu. I can see the Cardinals doing their best to keep Wong, however.

P- Brad Hand- was placed on waivers today, 10/29. If he goes unclaimed, then the Indians will be declining his 10MIL option. I can see the Indians making a play for the reliever. But the Market for Hand should be strong, and he should get a decent deal.

P-Roberto Osuna- was placed on waivers today, 10/29. After pitching in 4 games in 2020, the move makes sense for the Astros. I believe that the Astros are one of very few teams that want the baggage that comes with Osuna as he was suspended for domestic violence in 2017, I believe. I like the fit with the Astros as a logical place.

P- Zack Britton- had his option picked up by the NY Yankees. Great keep for the Yankees in that pen!

OF- Ryan Braun- Long time OF for the Brewers had his mutual option denied by the club. It's a 15MIL option. After playing 39 games in 2020, he slashed .233/.281/.488 with eight HR. Braun won an NL MVP in 2011 with the Brewers and became a serious contender in the following years as the club has gotten to the postseason each of the last 3 years. I can see Braun taking a much lower-paying deal to come back to the Brewers. The 36Yo still has a little left in the tank, and I am sure he and the Brewer want that to happen in Milwaukee.

OF- Brett Gardner- Yankees OF had his 10MIL option declined, but the Yankees are expected to bring back the vet on a much team friendlier deal.

P- JA Happ- Yankees SP did not have his 17MIL option exercised by the Yankees and is now a free agent. He isn't worth the 17MIL and hopefully will latch on with another competitor on a 1-2 year deal.

P- Charlie Morton- Rays SP did not have his 15MIL option picked up after an excellent postseason with the Rays. The Rays are expected to get "creative" and try to bring back Morton. He will have a strong market among contenders.

P- John Lester- Cubs SP did not have his $25MIL club option picked up. The Cubs instead paid Lester a $10MIL buyout. Lester showed to be streaky in 2020 and isn't the dominant ace of old. Lester should still be able to land a 1-2 year deal with incentives with the Cubs and look for SP needy teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Braves, and many more to play for the vet.

SP Chris Archer- 2x All-Star pitcher for the Pirates had his $11MIL club option declined. After the trade failed and the Pirates are kicking themselves for how it's ending. Hopefully, better things ahead.

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Smaller Fish

The Miami Marlins exercised their club option on OF Starling Marte. An excellent move for the Marlins as a team, as Marte has shown to be an outstanding overall MLB player.

1B- Anthony Rizzo- Exercised his $16.5MIl player option to stay with the Cubs.

P- Ian Kintzler- Miami Marlins- had his 4MIL club option declined and is now a FA. With a track record of success, look for him to generate interest after Hendricks, May, and Rosenthal. Look for the Marlins, Mariners, Rays, and Braves to play here and the Yankees.

P- Greg Holland: The Royals have a serious interest in bringing back the RP. After an incredible 2020 going 6-6 with saves, 1.91ERA/2.52FIP, 9.85K/9, 51.4 ground ball rate, and 2.22 BB/9. Holland is nowhere near the Liam Hendriks, Trevor May, and Trevor Rosenthal class but could still get a good 1-2 year deal from the Royals or another contender. I like the fit here being in Seattle. They need an established reliever and mentor in that pen and are planning on signing 3-4 arms.

P- Mike Leake: Who turns 33 didn't pitch in 2020 after opting out of the season. I think Leake signs with whoever gives him the most money.

P-Korey Kluber: Who turns 35, had his 18MIL club option turned down. Which makes sense the Rangers are cutting payroll. Kluber has an excellent track record of dominance on the mound. It's fair to speculate that Kluber is past his prime, but we thought that about many pitchers at this age and were proved wrong. I can see a 1year deal with a 2-3mil base and more incentives after a contending team. The Yankees, Braves, Padres are my teams to keep an eye on this winter. The Rangers would also be interested in having him back on the cheap, of course.

P-Hector Rondon: Also turning 33, had a miserable 2020 with Arizona. However, he still carries career 3.49ERA and 3.63FIP, so that he will get another look somewhere. I can see a team like Rays or another contender signing Rondon on the cheap for the upside. His deal will be non-guaranteed.

P-Junior Guerra: who turns 36, had an excellent 2020 pitching to a 3.04ERA over 23IP with a 21-15 K/BB ratio. The D-backs and the Guerra will most likely settle in arbitration on a deal.

1B- Daniel Murphy is a free-agent after him, and the Rockies disagreed on the mutual option. Josh Fuentes replaced him at 1B during the season. Murphy will turn 36 this season. After two seasons of decline, he will most likely have a hard time finding a new home.

C- Wilson Ramos: Despite him being a good defensive backstop, his two years with the Mets were bottom of the basket. He had a -12 Defensive runs scored, and a 15.9 percent caught-stealing rate shows the struggles he had. Even Syndergaard requested for someone else to catch his games. Ramos is 33 and could serve as a nice compliment to a team with a young catcher. He had the 2 All-Star games from 2016-2019. I think he could be a good fit for a team like the SF Giants.

C- Robinson Chirinos, who turns 36, also had his option declined by the Mets. After slashing a .162BA/.232OBP/.243SLG, the market will be close to non-existent for the veteran Catcher.

OF-Eric Thames: The 32-year-old struggled in his 140PA with the Nationals this season. He hit .203BA/.300OBP/.317SLG. The power-hitting lefty should find himself on a team that needs some lefty pop in the middle of the lineup. Look for the Thames to wind up in an AL club on a minor league deal. Think Indians, Twins, and possibly Rangers.

IF- Todd Frazier, who turns 35, also had his option declined by the Mets for much of the same reason as Chirinos—slashing .236BA/.302OBP/.382SLG, the veteran IF will look to find a club who is willing to take aging and declining vet. I can see his market-shaping together after an injury or a team like the A's, Cardinals, or Twins taking a shot on him for cheap.

IF- Howie Kendrick: Battling injuries in 2020 make sense that the Nationals will be moving on here, but even though he hit .275BA/.320OBP/.385SLG. The 37-year-old isn't confident he will play beyond 2020. If he plays in 2021, I think it will be with the Nationals, and it will be his last season.

1B-Carlos Santana- Indians- Had his 17.5MIL club option declined by the club. This one is pretty obvious as Santana is a good DH/1B but not worth the price they would pay. Look for Santana to get a much cheaper deal and stay with the Indians. Fellow Indian OF Domingo Santana also had his 5MIL option declined by the club.

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SP- Kendall Gravemen had his option declined by the Mariners. Gravemen has a good chance at a decent 1-2 year deal as he showed the ability to be a swingman for a team. He worked 9/10 appearances in Seattle as a reliever. With the injury history, the M's only had to pay a 500K buyout to him and not pay him 3MIL in 2021. I think the M's will look to bring him back a lot cheaper, if at all, in 2021.- I literally wrote this Tuesday, 10/28, and as of 10/29, Gravemen has already resigned with Seattle.

OF- Adam Eaton: The Nationals denied his club option. The 32-year-old has an excellent track record of above-average speed, defense, power, and glovework. The Nationals did not want to pay him 10.5MIL. I can see Eaton going to Houston to fill Brantly and Springer's void and help someone like Kyle Tucker develop.

IF/OF- Dee Strange-Gordon had his 14MIL club option declined and received a 1MIL buyout from Seattle. This move makes a lot of sense for the M's as they have Dylan Moore, Ty France, JP Crawford, Shed Long to play a MIF spot or take up an MLB spot. Strange-Gordon will join DJ LeMahieu in a thin 2B class. At 32, Strange-Gordon will look to join a contender this off-season, hopefully. A reunion in Miami makes a lot of sense to me or even the NY Yankees or Mets also as a good fit for Dee.

P- Sergio Romo: He had his option denied by the Twins. In 2020 he pitched to a 4.05ERA and a 23-7 K-BB ratio and allowed 3HR. So the quality was there but not for the Twins. Who is most likely going after a Hendricks, May, or Rosenthal. At 37 and low-velocity Romo relies on stikes and swings and misses as 64% of his pitches were over the plate. I can also see a fit with the Mariners here for Romo as well as the Blue Jays, Indians, and maybe even a reunion in SF with the Giants.

P- Anibal Sanchez- Had an excellent 2019 with the Nationals didn't have quite as good of 2020. He pitched 53 innings had a 6.62ERA. Sanchez turns 37, and a team looking to fill out a rotation and have depth could use Sanchez's services. I like the Mets, Reds, Brewers, the Rockies being a few of my top choices.

1B Mitch Moreland- Now former Padres 1B is a free agent of 11/1 as his option was declined. I can see a few teams being a fit here: Seattle, A's, Twins, Reds, Brewers, Phillies, Nationals, Angels, Royals, With Moreland's limited defensive ability only being at 1B, AL teams with a DH opening, or NL teams that need a decent 1B.

P Marin Perez- Red Sox also had his option declined is now a free agent. The bullpen market is shaping up to be a competitive one.

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