With the offseason officially beginning today, we’ve got some deadlines coming this week. One of them is the deadline for players and teams to make decisions on contract options. Those decisions are due by Thursday.
But that doesn’t mean all the decisions have to come on Thursday. They can come any time over the next five days, and some have already rolled in today.
For one big, albeit expected, one: Giants lefty Carlos Rodon is opting out of his deal and into free agency, per NBCSC. Rodon, 29, put together his second straight dominant season, and increased his innings total from 132.2 innings in 2021 (4.9 WAR) to 178.0 innings in 2022 (6.2 WAR). With a 33.4% K rate, a 7.3% BB rate, a 6.5% barrel rate, a 0.61 HR/9 … and on and on … Rodon was just dominant in 2022. By any measure, he was an ace. So opting out of the $22.5 million he was owed for 2023 was an easy decision.
Rodon will get – and reject – a Qualifying Offer later this week, and then he’ll be a free agent attached to draft pick compensation. How much a team is will to pay him is going to come down to risk tolerance on the health of the arm. Before 2021, Rodon was a tremendously talented, too-frequently-injured, ultimately disappointing pitcher. So there’s a lot of risk in a four or five-year deal, but that’s what it’s going to take to get him. The Cubs have been connected to Rodon in very early chatter, there was interest before 2021 in a reclamation-type deal, and we know the Cubs are in the market for an impact starter. I’m monitoring.
Fellow free agent pitcher Chris Bassitt is, er, well is also now a free agent. The 33-year-old late-bloomer declined his half of a $19 million mutual option (Heyman) after consistently being really solid since 2018. He’s not a stud, but even what he did in 2022 – 3.42 ERA (10% better than league average), 3.66 FIP (6% better), 181.2 innings, 2.7 WAR – is worth a whole lot to teams. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Bassitt get a three-year deal in that $20 million range, even with the coming Qualifying Offer attached.
Old friend Dan Vogelbach is solely a bat, but he was a good one this year, particularly after a midseason trade to the Mets (.255/.393/.436/144 wRC+). So, even without the ability to play in the field, the $1.5 million option for 2023 on his deal was a no-brainer for the Mets to pick up, which they have, per Jon Heyman.
Another few no-brainers are the White Sox keeping shortstop Tim Anderson for $12.5 million (Heyman), the Twins keeping Sonny Gray for $12.5 million (Heyman), and the Nationals declining their half of a mutual option on Nelson Cruz at $16 million (TalkNats).
Cruz, 42, did not hit at an above-average clip in 2022 (.234/.313/.337/85 wRC) for the first time since 2007. It’s possible that’s that for him, but it’s also possible he’ll want one more crack at DH’ing in 2023.