NEW YORK (AP) – Vladimir Guerrero became a free agent Wednesday when the AL champion Texas Rangers declined his $9 million mutual option, and Adrian Beltre hit the market when he turned down his $10 million player option with the Boston Red Sox.
Teams and players prepared for the start of free-agent negotiations Sunday under the new schedule that shortened the post-World Series “quiet period” from 15 days to five.
“I think there’ll be more aggressive behavior,” said agent Scott Boras, who represents Beltre and fellow free agent Jayson Werth. “I would say as many as eight to 10 teams are unhappy with what happened to their teams for a variety of reasons. And I believe there are a number of fan bases that expect a great deal more out of their franchises than has been given to date.”
Under the new rules, the general managers’ meetings could see more activity. GMs meet Nov. 16-17 in Orlando, Fla., with owners meeting there Nov. 17-18. The winter meetings, the usual offseason focal point, are Dec. 6-9 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
“I think it makes the GM meetings vastly more relevant mainly because of the fact that a GM can walk into a room and make a dramatic move, where before he could only talk about it,” Boras said. “The free agent airport is very different because now the captain of the plane can take off with passengers where before you could only position on the runway.”
Cliff Lee, the 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner, is the top available free-agent pitcher, and the Yankees plan to attempt to woo him from Texas. The Rangers hope to keep him after reaching the World Series for the first time, which should boost ticket sales.
“It’s hard for me to speculate on that because I don’t know where this is going to go,” Rangers president Nolan Ryan said. “You read reports that the Yankees are after him and they are determined to sign him. What that means, I don’t know.”
Other free agents include Boston catcher Victor Martinez, White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, Tampa Bay slugger Carlos Pena and closer Rafael Soriano and Angels designated hitter Hideki Matsui.
Texas gave a $1 million buyout to Guerrero, a former AL MVP who hit .300 with 29 homers and 115 RBIs during the regular season but slumped to .220 (13 for 59) with no homers and six RBIs in 15 postseason games. He went 1 for 14 (.071) in the World Series.
“He was a huge member of our team, played hurt, played hard. He was a great teammate,” Michael Young said. “He was a massive part of our team. Hopefully he’s back next year. We need him, without a doubt.”
Beltre, who gets a $1 million buyout, led Boston with a .321 batting average and a career-high 49 doubles in 154 games. He hit 28 homers and tied David Ortiz for the team lead with 102 RBIs. Boston must decide Thursday whether to exercise a $12.5 million option on Ortiz.
Cincinnati declined a $12.75 million option on right-hander Aaron Harang, who gets a $2 million buyout after going 6-7 with a 5.32 ERA.
“With the struggles I’ve had the past couple years and a few injuries and stuff, I just had a feeling that was going to happen,” Harang said.
The Reds exercised an $11.5 million option on right-hander Bronson Arroyo and a $1.75 million option on outfielder Jonny Gomes, and turned down a $4 million option on shortstop Orlando Cabrera.
Oakland declined a $12.5 million option on third baseman Eric Chavez, exercised a $6 million option on second baseman Mark Ellis and a $5.75 million option on outfielder Coco Crisp.
Chavez, a six-time Gold Glove winner, said in September he may retire. The 32-year-old was playing rehab games in the Arizona Rookie League when he had to stop because two bulging disks in his neck became too bothersome each time he batted. It also affected his surgically repaired right shoulder.
“We’re incredibly appreciative of everything Eric gave this organization,” assistant general manager David Forst said. “He literally gave us everything his body could handle. I hope he is up to playing next year because I know that’s what he wants.”
The New York Mets exercised their $11 million option on shortstop Jose Reyes. New Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said “a long term deal is not out of the question” for the injury-prone All-Star shortstop, who hit .282, with 10 triples, 11 homers, 54 RBIs and 30 steals.
Aramis Ramirez exercised his $14.6 million option to remain with the Chicago Cubs. The third baseman was bothered by injuries and batted .241 with 25 homers and 83 RBIs in 124 games.
San Diego declined its $8.5 million option on right-hander Chris Young, who was sidelined most of the season with a strained right shoulder. Catcher Yorvit Torrealba declined his $3.5 million mutual option with the Padres.
Seattle turned down an $8 million option on oft-injured left-hander Erik Bedard, who gets a $250,000 buyout, and a $5 million option on designated hitter Russell Branyan, who gets $500,000.
The Los Angeles Dodgers exercised their half of a $2 million mutual option on outfielder Scott Podsednik, who has until Thursday to accept or decline.
Tampa Bay declined a $4.25 million option on reliever Dan Wheeler and a $2.2 million option on infielder Willy Aybar. Wheeler gets a $1 million buyout and Aybar $275,000.
Washington declined its $2 million option on second baseman Adam Kennedy, instead giving him a $250,000 buyout.
Among players eligible for arbitration, the Mariners declined a $5 million option on third baseman Jose Lopez and Pittsburgh agreed to a one-year contract with left-hander Wil Ledezma that pays $700,000 in the major leagues next season and $300,000 in the minors.
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