Most of us cannot imagine turning down $14.1 million for one year of work. We could retire from our jobs and — if we manage the money well — never have to work or worry about money again. How, then, does it not surprise me that Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, and Stephen Drew turned down that qualifying offer? Even more, many fans expected them to do so. MLB.com’s Jason Mastrodonato confirmed the announcement late Monday night.
In today’s baseball money, $14.1 million is still a large sum, but it pales in comparison to what some players make. Maybe that is why all three Red Sox players turned down the qualifying offer. They may not get that total for one year (although Ellsbury has a chance), but they could secure more over time.
CBS Sports.com lists Ellsbury as the #2 free agent position player for this offseason behind only Robinson Cano. At .298/.350/.439, 9 HR, 52 RBI, it does not appear as if Ellsbury could command the six to eight years and $100 million that he has reportedly seeks. However, considering that he did all that as a leadoff hitter — in addition to stealing 52 of 56 bases and scoring 92 runs in 134 games, it becomes apparent why he seeks that type of deal. Many teams will talk with him, and he could land a hefty contract after all.
Napoli is the #8 free agent and the top first baseman. He wants a multi-year deal, especially after having the one he made with Boston before this season nullified due to hip problems. The problems went away, and he became an offensive force as well as a defensive asset. He made $5 million in 2013 and hit 20+ home runs (23) for the sixth straight year. He also fielded .994. Mastrodonato says that GM Ben Cherington “is comfortable” with a one-year deal, possibly for a raise, but Napoli wants to secure a job for the next few years.
Finally, Drew had a down year offensively, but he played very solid defense, especially in the postseason. He wants to play shortstop, and Mastrodonato quotes him as saying that he will speak with only teams that want him to play shortstop. He could find his opportunities reduced with those words, but he knows what he wants, including a multi-year deal. Drew made $9.5 million in 2013. He could get a raise and have it repeated for the next few years. I cannot blame him for trying. He is the #12 free agent and top shortstop available.
Should any of these players sign with any other team, the Red Sox will get a draft pick as compensation. That pick will be a first-round pick unless the signing team picks in the first ten spots. Then, it will give up its next pick. The Red Sox would then get to use that pick between the first and second rounds in this year’s June draft.
It seems unfathomable for most of us to see anyone turn down $14.1 million, but these three players did. In fact, all 13 MLB players who received the offer rejected it for reasons very similar to Ellsbury’s, Napoli’s, and Drew’s. Regardless of where these three players sign, though, no one can take away their 2013 World Series championship with the Boston Red Sox.