MLB free agency: Justin Verlander declines option; Evan Longoria hits market; Mets bring back starter

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Major League Baseball’s free agency period is slated to officially begin at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, meaning that teams and players across the country are nearing the decision point for contractual options. They can exercise them, they can decline them, but they have to do something before the end of business today.

American League Cy Young Award frontrunner Justin Verlander kicked off the day in emphatic style, declining his $25 million player option to become a free agent. Verlander could still return to the Houston Astros, his team since late 2017, but he seems likely to pursue an AAV that rivals what Max Scherzer received from the New York Mets last winter, when he signed for two years and $86.7 million.

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CBS Sports will summarize all of the other notable option decisions below. (Do note that the players are presented in alphabetical order.)

Exercised

  • Anthony Bass: The Blue Jays exercised a $3 million club option over Bass’ services. He pitched well for them after being acquired from the Marlins at the deadline.
  • Carlos Carrasco: The Mets will need to figure out how to keep or replace several members of their starting rotation, including Jacob deGrom and Chris Bassitt, but at least they’ll have Carrasco in tow. New York executed a $14 million club option to bring him back into the fold for 2023.
  • John Curtiss: The Mets also exercised their option on Curtiss. He underwent Tommy John surgery in September 2021 and has not made a big-league appearance since. He will make $775,000 next season.
  • Jake Odorizzi: Odorizzi Exercised his $12.5 million player option On Wednesday, set off a trade that sent him from the Braves to the Rangers. (The Braves sent $10 million with him to Texas, suggesting they viewed his contract as an underwater variety.)
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declined

  • Brad Boxberger: The Brewers declined Boxberger’s $3 million club option, instead choosing to pay him a $750,000 buyout.
  • Kevin Kiermaier: The Rays said goodbye to one of their longest-tenured players, declining Kiermaier’s $13 million club option for next season in lieu of a $2.5 million buyout. Kiermaier underwent season-ending hip surgery in mid-August, but is expected to be ready for Opening Day 2023.
  • Evan Longoria: The Giants saved $8 million by declining Longoria’s $13 million option in favor of a $5 million buyout. Longoria expressed interest in working out a new contract with the Giants, but also stated that he is open to playing elsewhere in 2023 after spending the past five years at the Bay Area.
  • Justin Verlander: We covered Verlander’s situation in the introduction, but for this afternoon’s sake: He will become a free agent after declining a $25 million player option.
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You can check out CBS Sports’ top 50 free-agent rankingsIncluding some of the players above, by clicking here.



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