The baseball free-agent field is about to get a lot bigger. That’s because the deadline to tender players contracts is this Friday, Nov. 17.
Teams can decline contracts to anyone on their 40-man roster who isn’t already on a multi-year, guaranteed pact. Such non-tenders go immediately into free agency without passing GO or collecting $200.
Players who are tendered a contract, on the other hand, can continue negotiating with their current clubs before salary arbitration hearings, usually overlapping the start of spring training from mid-February well into March.
According to Matt Swartz of the website Major League Baseball Trade Rumors (mlbtr.com), some recognizable names are likely to be non-tendered – and thus become free agents.
The most prominent among them, Swartz predicts, are catchers Austin Nola, Garrett Stubbs, and Jose Trevino; first baseman Rowdy Tellez; second baseman Kyle Farmer and Josh Rojas; shortstop Jorge Mateo; third basemen Nick Senzel, Edmundo Sosa, and Ramon Urias; and outfielders Akil Baddoo, Jake Bauers, Trent Grisham, Connor Joe, and Austin Meadows; plus designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach.
Pitchers the writer considers likely non-tenders include Domingo German, who pitched a perfect game for the Yankees in 2023, and Michael Soroka, a one-time All-Star who finished second in the National League’s Rookie of the Year voting in 2019 before tearing his Achilles twice.
Other pitchers who could be non-tendered are left-handed relievers Joe Mantiply and Ryan Yarbrough, plus righties Drew Smith and Alan Cimber.
It’s already been a busy time for general managers, who faced a midweek deadline to finalize their 40-man rosters and factored into the equation the deadline for free agents to accept or reject a one-year salary qualifying offer.
Several veterans, including Cleveland pitcher Cal Quantrill and Washington first baseman Dom Smith, were designated for assignment after their clubs decided they would rather lose them than take them to salary arbitration hearings.
All seven players given qualifying offers – set at $20.325 million this year – also became free agents by rejecting those bids. They were Cody Bellinger, Matt Chapman, Sonny Gray, Josh Hader, Aaron Nola, Shohei Ohtani, and Blake Snell.
Veteran players who did not receive the QO became instant free agents as well. That group included three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, former World Series MVP Jorge Soler, former RBI king Adam Duvall, and sluggers Rhys Hoskins, Teoscar Hernandez, J.D. Martinez, and Michael Brantley.
Players who have previously received a qualifying offer are ineligible to receive another.
Teams routinely put top prospects on 40-man rosters to protect them from the Rule 5 draft, scheduled for the Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville Dec. 6.
Also this week, team owners will meet in Arlington, TX with an agenda topped by the proposed move of the Oakland Athletics to Las Vegas. If approved, the A’s would be the first team to represent four different cities, also including Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Oakland before Las Vegas.