Teams Decline 2021 Options on Several Notable MLB Players
Now that the World Series is officially in the books, the attention turns towards the Hot Stove. The first big deadline this Hot Stove season is from now until Friday to exercise or decline player’s options. As a standard tradition in the MLB, this part of the Hot Stove season happens three days after the conclusion of the aforementioned World Series.
For every team, these are some significant decisions to make regarding players with options. The decisions they make will certainly impact the team they roll out on the field in 2021. With that being said though, there is still a lot of uncertainty about exactly how teams will approach this offseason.
Given the substantial amount of money teams lost this season with no fans in attendance, profits are way down and debt figures are way up for every club. Although, it should come as no surprise as that’s what was expected to happen. Regardless, it’s important to remember that some of these players might reunite with their former team. However, it will come via a revised contract that pays less money than they were slated for.
Here are some of the more notable MLB players that had their player options declined Wednesday.
1. Corey Kluber (Texas Rangers)
The most notable name of the bunch was starting pitcher Corey Kluber who had his $18 million dollar option declined by the Texas Rangers. Kluber was acquired by the team prior to the start of this past season from the Cleveland Indians. He was expected to be a key factor in the Rangers starting rotation alongside Lance Lynn and Mike Minor. However, the 34-year old only made one start for the team and was later played on the 60-Day Injured List at the end of July with a tear in his right teres muscle.
It should come as no surprise that the Rangers declined Kluber’s option. Given his age and the fact that he’s experienced some injuries in the last few years, Texas feels as though they can utilize that money to upgrade other areas of their roster. Most notably, Texas will likely look to add a bat somewhere in the mix. Although, a reunion cannot be ruled out either. In September, Texas Rangers President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jon Daniels hinted that. Only time will tell what ends up happening in regards to the team taking that step.
2. Kolten Wong (St. Louis Cardinals)
In what was a bit of a surprising move, the St. Louis Cardinals declined their option on second baseman Kolten Wong for 2021. Wong was originally drafted by the Cardinals with the 22nd pick of the 2011 MLB Draft. He made his MLB Debut on August 16th, 2013, and was a key member of the team’s roster ever since. However, while there were some strides made by Wong especially over the last few seasons, St. Louis feels as though they will be better suited without having to pay him $12.5 million dollars next year.
Wong concluded this past season with a .265/.350/.326 slash line over 208 plate appearances or 53 games. Over that span, the 30-year old racked up 48 hits, four doubles, two triples, one home run, 16 RBI, 20 walks, and 30 strikeouts. With this move, the Cardinals can now slate in Tommy Edman as their everyday second baseman unless they find another option this winter. During his second big league season, Edman showed enough at the plate and with his glove to be considered a vital part of the future core for the Cardinals.
3. Adam Eaton (Washington Nationals)
Another notable MLB player that had their option declined today was Washington Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton. Eaton had a $10.5 million dollar team option for next season. It would have been the 31-year old’s final season before hitting free agency. With the Nationals, he was never a significant power threat but did provide a nice spark in the dugout and the ability to get on base via the walk. During his four seasons with the organization, Eaton racked up 129 walks and had an on-base percentage of .365.
More specifically, he concluded this past regular season with a .226/.285/.384 slash line over 176 plate appearances or 41 games. With Eaton likely out of the fold now for a Nationals team that won the World Series just last year, it leaves the team without an everyday right fielder. Looking ahead to next season, the Nationals have two young superstars in Juan Soto and Victor Robles for the other outfield spots. However, the starting right fielder right now would be 26-year old Andrew Stevenson who has played in one major league game. Likely a position of focus for the team this offseason.
4. Sergio Romo (Minnesota Twins)
After concluding the season with a 4.05 ERA over 24 appearances, the Minnesota Twins officially declined their option on reliever Sergio Romo Wednesday. Romo had a $5 million dollar option, but will now be paid $250,000 dollars via a buyout instead. While Romo had an above league average ERA, he did conclude the regular season with a 10.4 K/9 rate and a 1.150 WHIP. He will turn 38 next May, but should still receive some interest as a free agent assuming that he doesn’t return to the Minnesota Twins.
For the Twins, the decision to decline Romo’s option makes sense. As a unit, the Twins bullpen finished with the third-best ERA (3.62) among the rest of the American League. Minnesota had some standout performances as well from right-handers Caleb Thielbar and Matt Wisler. Therefore, the organization might feel as though they have a cheaper option in-house that can fill that role. Either way though, the Twins will likely be in the market for some relief help of some sort this offseason.
5. Daniel Murphy (Colorado Rockies)
Following the 2018 season, Daniel Murphy inked a two-year, $24 million dollar contract with the Colorado Rockies. The deal included a $12 million dollar team option for next season. When the deal was agreed upon, the Rockies thought they were signing a legitimate bat to add to their everyday lineup. After all, Murphy had posted a .800 OPS with the Chicago Cubs during the second half of 2018. However, in all fairness, Murphy did not live up to expectations during those two seasons.
Over 40 games this season, Murphy had a .236 batting average with an OPS+ of 54 and 21 strikeouts. For a Colorado Rockies team that is essentially strapped for cash, trimming payroll wherever possible is going to be the primary goal this winter. As it stands right now, the Rockies have a projected payroll of $130.3 million dollars for 2021. That puts them ninth overall among the other thirty teams. Colorado will likely make other cost-cutting moves this offseason, but to what extent remains to be seen.
Final Thoughts on MLB Player Options
In the end, there are going to be plenty of notable players that have their options declined Thursday and Friday. These were just some of the more notable names from Wednesday. For all thirty teams, these decisions will not only impact their offseason plans but their roster for next season as well.
Now, the attention turns towards what the future will hold for these five aforementioned MLB players. All of them still possess the ability to play in the major leagues if healthy. It just comes down to whether or not a team sees a fit or wants to give one of them another chance.
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