BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Red Sox made qualifying offers to three of their four free-agents-to-be on Monday. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was not one of them.
GM Ben Cherington announced that the team would make one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offers to first baseman Mike Napoli, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and shortstop Stephen Drew prior to Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline at a press conference at Fenway Park on Monday afternoon.
By making a qualifying offer to players, teams would receive a draft pick in compensation should that player sign elsewhere. If no offer is made, the player becomes an unrestricted free agent.
“With all of our free agents, there is interest in every one of them. I also think it’s unlikely that every one of them will be back,” Cherington said on Monday. “That’s the nature of the game.”
“We’ll keep conversation going for all of them and alternatives,” noted Cherington. “We’d like to have them all back but we’ll have to see how it goes and how the money shapes out.”
Saltalamacchia hit 14 home runs and finished the regular season with a career-high .273 batting average, but spent the final three games of the World Series on the bench in favor of veteran backstop David Ross, who is signed through next season. With Ryan Lavarnway waiting in the wings, Boston may opt to move on from Saltalamacchia, who could get a rather pricey, multi-year deal on the free agent market.
Napoli, who hit .259 with 23 home runs in the regular season after signing a one-year deal with Boston, will likely get the multi-year deal he sought last off-season. Napoli and the Red Sox had initially agreed on a three-year deal but concerns over avascular necrosis (AVN) in the first baseman’s hips led to the two sides agreeing on just the one-year pact. Now, after making some big swings during Boston’s World Series run, Napoli will be able to get that multi-year deal the Red Sox balked at last off-season.
Ellsbury and super agent Scott Boras are expected to command a big-money, long-term deal for the 30-year-old center fielder, and he’ll have plenty of suitors lining up for his services. The Red Sox could still re-sign Ellsbury, but now they’ll at least get something in return should he bolt town.
Drew is an interesting case, as he too is in the market for a multi-year deal. He made $9.5 million in 2013, and with Xander Bogaerts looked primed to take over at short, it will be interesting to see if he can find that deal he’s looking for, or accepts Boston’s qualifying offer.
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There was expected to be some turnover for the 2013 World Series champs, and Monday afternoon will be the first domino to fall in terms of players coming and going.
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