HOUSTON — Aaron Judge, Edwin Díaz, Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson and Xander Bogaerts were among 131 players who became free agents on Sunday as baseball’s business season began just hours after the final out of the World Series.
Justin Verlander, Jacob deGrom and Carlos Rodón are set to join them in the next few days, among 56 players whose contracts have options that must be decided within five days of the World Series’ end. All three pitchers are expected to decline player options, as is shortstop Carlos Correa and first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
Clayton Kershaw, Willson Contreras, Brandon Nimmo, Kenley Janson, Nathan Eovaldi and Josh Bell and Andrew Benintendi also went free Sunday.
Some players, such as Mets pitcher Chris Bassitt, have contracts with mutual options that must be decided. About 55 additional players are potentially eligible for free agency depending on option decisions.
Players can start negotiating economic terms on Friday. Judge rejected a contract offer from the New York Yankees in April that would have paid $213.5 million from 2023-29. He set an AL record with 62 homers, finished tied for the major league lead with 131 RBIs and was second in the AL with a .311 batting average.
Teams have until Thursday to make $19.65 million qualifying offers to their former players who became free agents. A free agent can be made a qualifying offer only if he has been with the same team continuously since opening day and has never received a qualifying offer before. A player has until Nov. 20 to accept.
If a team makes a qualifying offer to a player who signs a major league contract with another club before next year’s amateur draft, his former club would receive a draft pick as compensation at the end of the first round or at the end of competitive balance round B. The placement depends on the amount of the new contract and the revenue-sharing and luxury tax status of the team losing the player.
Qualifying offers began after the 2012 season, and only eight of 110 offers have been accepted. Among the 14 players given offers last year, only San Francisco first baseman Brandon Belt said yes.
Major League Baseball offered last winter to drop qualifying offers and direct draft-pick compensation, and the March lockout settlement tied the proposal to the players’ association agreeing to an international amateur draft. The union rejected the draft in July.
Rather than become free agents, St. Louis Cardinals stars Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina went on the voluntarily retired list.
Washington left-hander Sean Doolittle became the first free agent to reach an agreement, staying with the Nationals on a minor league contract. Doolittle made the last of his six appearances this year on April 19 and had surgery in July to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow, an internal brace procedure less severe than Tommy John surgery.