Second baseman Robinson Cano and outfielders Curtis Granderson and Jacoby Ellsbury were among 13 Major League Baseball players who turned down $14.1 million qualifying offers from their teams, clearing them to negotiate with other clubs on the free-agent market.
Cano, Granderson and pitcher Hiroki Kuroda declined offers from the New York Yankees ahead of yesterday’s deadline, while Ellsbury, shortstop Stephen Drew and first baseman Mike Napoli rejected one-year deals from the Boston Red Sox. The $14.1 million figure is the average of the sport’s 125 richest player contracts.
“When we made the qualifying offers, we did not expect anyone to accept,” Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman was quoted as saying by MLB.com. “We would have been happy if any of them did. So now we enter the remaining part of the process, stay engaged and try to re-sign our players.”
Outfielders Carlos Beltran, Shin-soo Choo and Nelson Cruz also declined qualifying offers, according to the MLB Players Association, as did pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana, catcher Brian McCann and first baseman Kendrys Morales.
All 13 players can still negotiate new contracts with their current clubs. If they sign with another organization, their previous team would get a compensation pick following the first round of the MLB draft.
Cano, 31, and Ellsbury, 30, will probably be the most coveted free agents available this offseason, commanding long-term contracts worth more than $100 million.
Cano is a six-time All-Star who has hit at least 25 home runs each of the past five seasons. Ellsbury is two years removed from a season in which he finished second in voting for the American League Most Valuable Player award after hitting .321 with 32 homers, 105 runs batted in and 39 stolen bases.
“He has earned the right to be a free agent and he’s a premier player,” Cashman said of Cano yesterday at MLB’s general managers’ meetings in Orlando, Florida. “Given that status that he carries, those types of players dictate the dance steps. We’ll do the dance as long as we can, but at some point you can’t do that forever. We’re in the very front end of this thing. The music hasn’t even started yet.”