Early Options Decisions: Bauer, McCutchen, Herrera, Kikuchi, Profar, Bradley

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Early Options Decisions: Bauer, McCutchen, Herrera, Kikuchi, Profar, Bradley

Chicago Cubs

As noted in the offseason timeline post, options decisions – player, team, mutual – are typically due at some point within the first five days following the end of the World Series. Some player contracts specify a shorter time period. It’s a range. Moreover, the decisions can be made before they are “due,” so you will get a flurry of those decisions over the next few days (as well as trades related to those decisions, like today’s Tucker Barnhart deal).

Some of the options decisions being reported today …

Unsurprisingly, Trevor Bauer is not going to opt out of his lucrative deal with the Dodgers while his sexual abuse investigation is ongoing:

I’m not quite sure why the deferrals are even mentioned, since they factor zero percent into this decision. An opt out would’ve meant Bauer was out there trying to get a new contract from a team that would (1) have to take on his horror show of a situation, and (2) have to sign him not knowing whether he faces a lengthy suspension and/or prison time. No, this decision was already made a long, long time ago. It remains a very open question whether Bauer pitches again in MLB.

Japanese lefty Yusei Kikuchi signed a complex contract with the Mariners when he first came over, and it involved the Mariners being able to exercise a multi-year option at this point, and, if not, Kikuchi being able to exercise a smaller-value player option for next year. Neither is happening:

Kikuchi, 30, had a rough transition to the States in 2019-20, but looked like he was breaking out this year in the first half. But after July 1, his season fell apart, and he posted a 6.22 ERA (5.07 FIP) from that point on. The question, I think, is whether he stays in MLB or could find a more lucrative deal in Japan. If he stays in the States, he’s the kinda guy you would love to see the Cubs consider trying to get over the hump.

The Phillies are declining two outfield options:

Herrera, 29, was a near league-average player in 2021, and although the option was declined, he can still be retained via arbitration. But that figures to be a raise above the $9 million decision they had on him ($11.5M option, $2.5M buyout), so I presume he’s going to hit free agency.

McCutchen, 35, was a $12 million decision after another slightly-above-average offensive season (.222/.334/.444, 107 wRC+), but with the defense continuing to fade. He’ll make for a good, complementary, veteran bench bat for some team this offseason. Certainly wouldn’t hate a guy like that on the Cubs.

Unsurprisingly, after a disastrous year in San Diego, Jurickson Profar isn’t opting out:

The 28-year-old utility man saw his defensive metrics fall apart, and he hit just .227/.329/.320 (85 wRC+). Any chance the Padres might get desperate to unload a little salary, and would either eat some or attach a prospect to move Profar? If so, maybe you want to be the team to take a chance on a bounce back? Overall, he’s still a versatile, high-contact, high-walk, switch-hitter with plenty of physical talent.

No surprise on Jackie Bradley Jr. taking his money for next year:

The glove was still great, but Bradley was basically the worst hitter in baseball this past season for the Brewers. Far, far, far worse than anyone could have realistically projected. Not sure if there’s a bounce-back there or not, but the Brewers were on the hook for the salary either way.



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.