MLB Free Agency: 10 Position Players Likely To Have Club Options Denied
When handing out contracts, a team will often include a club option as a possible incentive for the player to perform well.
Many times, the option is worth more than that player’s average yearly salary.
This upcoming offseason, a handful of players who are in line for lucrative options may be left out in the cold by their current teams.
Whether it is due to underachieving or the presence of a younger, cheaper player, here are 10 position players whose club options are likely to be denied.
10. Chris Snyder, C, Pittsburgh Pirates
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Coming off a miserable offensive season split between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Pittsburgh Pirates, Chris Snyder has swung the bat decently in his first 14 games.
Though the power numbers aren’t there just yet, he’s hitting .295 with a .373 OBP.
Snyder had a $6.75 million club option on the table with a $750,000 buyout.
Though he is a safer bet to remain in Pittsburgh than Ryan Doumit, Snyder may be too expensive for the Pirates.
Pirates catching prospect Tony Sanchez has the tools to be a Major League catcher, but the question is whether he’ll be ready to handle the bulk of the duties next year.
Even so, Snyder’s days in Pittsburgh may be numbered.
9. Kelly Shoppach, C, Tampa Bay Rays
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Kelly Shoppach has a $3.2 million club option in line for next season.
Formerly a platoon candidate, Shoppach has struggled offensively in limited plate appearances.
John Jaso has established himself as the everyday catcher for the Rays, which likely spells Shoppach’s fate at the end of the season.
It appears unlikely that the Rays would spend $3.2 million on a backup catcher, when they could use the money elsewhere, especially since the team’s budget isn’t too high to begin with.
8. Casey Blake, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
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The 37-year-old Casey Blake is off to a decent start through his first 14 games. He’s hitting .321 with a whopping .446 OBP.
Blake has been a consistent player his entire career, and one that the Los Angeles Dodgers can rely on to get them through their tough times.
However, Blake will be 38 after this season, and has a $6 million club option.
This price tag may be too high for the aging third baseman, especially given the Dodgers' financial constraints.
7. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS, Milwaukee Brewers
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Yuniesky Betancourt has quietly put together a solid Major League career.
He had a breakout campaign for the Kansas City Royals last year, with 16 HR and 78 RBI.
Betancourt has played an above-average defensive shortstop as well.
However, does all this warrant a $6 million club option from the Milwaukee Brewers?
Though his buyout is $2 million, the other $4 million could be put towards Milwaukee’s efforts to re-sign Prince Fielder.
6. Marco Scutaro, SS, Boston Red Sox
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Marco Scutaro’s tenure in Boston is as good as done following this season.
Not only has Jed Lowrie already won the everyday shortstop position, but the Red Sox also have one of the top-ranked minor league shortstop prospects in Jose Iglesias.
Scutaro has a $6 million club option on the table, but unlike the other players listed so far, he also has a $3 million player option.
If another team doesn’t come calling, Scutaro may accept his player option, though he’d be relegated to a utility bench role.
With all the money Boston just spent on Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, retaining Scutaro doesn’t appear to be high on the priority list.
5. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
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After five seasons of double-digit home runs, Edwin Encarnacion is off to a slow start in the power department for the Toronto Blue Jays.
He’s been playing third base for the Jays, which has shifted slugger Jose Bautista to right field.
Bautista doesn’t seem affected by this switch, as Joey Bats has already clubbed an AL-leading nine HR.
Encarnacion, meanwhile, has a $3.5 million club option for next year. Rather than retain him, the Blue Jays should look to hang onto second baseman Aaron Hill.
Though Hill has an $8 million option, moving Encarnacion would make room for highly touted third base prospect Brett Lawrie to take over for the big club.
4. Ryan Doumit, C/RF, Pittsburgh Pirates
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Ryan Doumit has appeared lost at the plate over the past few seasons. What’s worse is that his defense far from makes up for his lack of offensive production.
As a result, a once-promising player for the Pittsburgh Pirates may need to look elsewhere for a job.
He has two club options—a $7.25 million option after this season and an $8.25 million option after next season.
The $500,000 buyout seems extremely likely, and that’s if Doumit remains in Pittsburgh through this season, which is a long shot in and of itself.
He’s a likely candidate to be traded, but teams may balk at his high price tag.
3. Bobby Abreu, LF/DH, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have done all they can to try to rid themselves of Bobby Abreu.
However, the 37-year-old outfielder/DH remains with the team. But he has actually been quite productive.
Abreu is hitting .267 with 11 RBI through his first 29 games.
Though he may have lost some of his overall baseball ability, Abreu is still one of the most durable players in the game.
This might actually work against the Angels. Abreu has a $9 million option that automatically vests if he reaches 433 plate appearances.
He’s already at 129, so barring a major injury, the only way Abreu is not an Angel next season is if another team acquires him via trade, which is an unlikely scenario.
2. Rafael Furcal, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
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Rafael Furcal has been on the disabled list for three weeks with a broken thumb.
Before his injury, Furcal struggled with the bat in seven games for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It’s hard to believe that the once super-exciting young Atlanta Braves shortstop will be 34 after this season.
Furcal has a $12 million vesting option if he reaches 600 plate appearances. Since he’ll likely be out at least another three weeks, this plateau may be tough to achieve.
Furcal has even contemplated retirement if he’s unable to return fully healthy. If he does play next season, it most likely won’t be for the financially strapped Dodgers.
1. Nate McLouth, CF, Atlanta Braves
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Nate McLouth has been a terrible disappointment so far for the Atlanta Braves after a few promising seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He struggled so mightily last year (.190 BA) that he was sent down the minors to figure himself out.
McLouth won the starting center field job for the Braves out of spring training, but once again struggled with the bat early on.
However, a recent move to the No. 8 spot in the lineup has allowed him regain his groove. He’s hitting .294 with a .400 OBP in the 14 games since this switch.
McLouth has a lofty $10.65 club option on the table for next season. That is an exorbitant sum of money to pay a No. 8 hitter, regardless of his production—except for the New York Yankees.
A $1.25 million buyout is the likely end to McLouth's career in Atlanta.