Thirteen players are set to enter the free-agent pool this winter.



Thirteen players are set to enter the  free-agent pool this winter.

This winter, several players could potentially join the free-agent pool as they navigate important decisions regarding their contracts. While over 30 players have club options for the next season, there are a select few who possess opt-out clauses or player options, giving them the opportunity to explore the open market or remain with their current teams.

In particular, eight players have opt-out clauses at the end of the season, while five others have player options in their contracts. Let's take a closer look at some of these players:

Opt-out clauses:

1-Hector Neris, RHP, Astros

Option: 1 year, $8.5 million ($1 million buyout) 

Neris signed a two-year, $17 million deal with Houston prior to the 2022 season, one which included a team option for $8.5 million for 2024. That became a player option after the right-hander made his 110th appearance for the club, which he did in July. Neris, who had significant closing experience with the Phillies from 2017-21, has been outstanding for the Astros this year, posting a 2.05 ERA in 56 appearances. Should Neris finish this season on the injured list, the option would revert to a club option. But if Neris retains control over the decision, he is likely to decline it and seek a multi-year deal on the open market.

2- Seth Lugo's scoreless start

Option: 1 year, $7.5 million

Entering 2023, Lugo hadn’t started a game since 2020 and had made only 12 starts since the beginning of the 2018 season, compared to 227 relief appearances. Yet, the 33-year-old has started 20 games for the Padres this season, already earning $750,000 in performance bonuses. Given that Lugo landed a $7.5 million deal with no recent track record as a starter, his work this season -- he has a 3.70 ERA in 109 1/3 innings, tossing six-plus innings with two-or-fewer runs in 12 of his 20 outings -- should allow him to exceed $7.5 million on the open market.

3- Matt Carpenter's two-run HR (4)

Option: 1 year, $5.5 million

It was something of a surprise that the Padres kept Carpenter on the roster after the Trade Deadline, following San Diego's acquisition of Ji Man Choi and Garrett Cooper. Yet, he remains a member of the club despite not seeing a single at-bat from July 25 through Aug. 14. Carpenter, who rejuvenated his career with the Yankees in 2022, hit just .173 with four home runs, 27 RBIs and a .614 OPS in 191 plate appearances prior to the All-Star break, but he’s had only 19 plate appearances in the second half. It seems unlikely that the Padres will keep Carpenter on the roster heading into his age-38 season, but the $5.5 million is guaranteed whether San Diego releases him or decides to give him another shot.

4- Javier Báez, SS, Tigers

Remaining contract: 4 years, $98 million

Despite a disappointing performance over his first two years in Detroit, Báez's contract includes an opt-out after this season. However, given his struggles with a .637 OPS and limited offensive production (8 home runs, .593 OPS in the current season), it is unlikely that he will exercise the opt-out clause.

5- Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Tigers

Remaining contract: 3 years, $49 million

Rodriguez, on the other hand, has had a solid season leading up to his opt-out decision. Signing a five-year, $77 million contract in 2022, he has rebounded well from personal issues that affected his playing time last year. With a 9-6 record and a 3.03 ERA in 19 starts in 2023, Rodriguez is in a favorable position to opt out and seek a more lucrative deal in the upcoming offseason.

6- Marcus Stroman, RHP, Cubs:

Remaining contract: 1 year, $21 million

Initially, it appeared highly likely that Stroman would opt out of the final year of his three-year, $71 million contract. He had an impressive start to the season with a 2.28 ERA in 16 starts and a 9-4 record. However, a downturn in performance, with a 7.00 ERA over his next seven outings, coupled with hip and rib cage injuries that landed him on the injured list since July 31, has complicated his decision. If Stroman is unable to make a return before the end of the season, it is possible that he will choose to opt in for the final year of his contract.

7- Josh Bell, 1B, Marlins:

Remaining contract: 1 year, $16.5 million

After a lackluster performance during the first four months of the season in Cleveland, Bell has found success since being traded to the Marlins. In 21 games, he has hit seven home runs and maintained an impressive .947 OPS. If he finishes the season strong, the 31-year-old first baseman may choose to opt out of his contract and explore the market in search of a multi-year deal.

8- Sean Manaea, LHP, Giants:

Remaining contract: 1 year, $12.5 million

Manaea was removed from San Francisco's starting rotation in mid-May and has since been working out of the bullpen with mixed results in 24 appearances. Given his inconsistent season, it is unlikely that he will opt out of his $12.5 million salary for the 2024 season.

9- Ross Stripling, RHP, Giants:

Remaining contract: 1 year, $12.5 million

Similar to Manaea, Stripling has struggled to find success with the Giants, posting a 5.29 ERA in 19 outings (11 starts) before landing on the injured list due to a back strain. With a salary matching that of Manaea, it is unlikely that Stripling will opt out of his contract and test the free-agent market.

10- Jorge Soler, OF/DH, Marlins:

Remaining contract: 1 year, $9 million

Soler had a subpar first year with the Marlins, hitting 13 home runs with a .695 OPS in only 72 games. However, he has had a significant rebound this season, belting 33 home runs with an .824 OPS in 122 games and earning his first All-Star selection. Given his relatively modest salary for 2024, it is expected that Soler will opt out of the final year of his contract.

11- Justin Turner, INF, Red Sox:

Option: $13.4 million ($6.7 million buyout)

Turner signed a two-year deal last offseason, including a player option for $13.4 million in 2024. With a $6.7 million buyout, he is guaranteed $15 million regardless of his decision. The 38-year-old infielder has performed well, with 20 home runs, 82 RBIs, and an .834 OPS. He would need to secure a deal worth more than $6.7 million to increase his earnings. While a return to Boston is possible, it would likely involve negotiating a new contract.

12- Andrew Heaney, LHP, Rangers:

Option: 1 year, $13 million ($500,000 buyout)

Heaney's option can increase to $20 million if he reaches the 150-inning threshold and finishes the season without a significant injury. So far, he has thrown 122 1/3 innings in 25 starts. He would need to pitch 27 2/3 more innings before the end of the season to trigger the increased option value. Despite having some solid performances, particularly in April and May, Heaney has struggled with a 4.81 ERA since June 1. It is likely that he will exercise the option for the 2024 season.

13- Michael Conforto, OF, Giants:

Remaining contract: 1 year, $18 million

Conforto's opt-out clause was triggered once he reached 350 plate appearances, which he easily achieved this season. While his production has been solid, it hasn't been exceptional, as he has hit 15 home runs and maintained a .748 OPS in 111 games. Considering the relatively weak group of free-agent outfielders, Conforto might opt out of his contract in order to pursue a multi-year deal in search of better financial terms and stability.

Sport Globel