Sox free-agent trio declines qualifying offers

Sox free-agent trio declines qualifying offers
November 11, 2013, 6:15 pm
Share This Post

BOSTON -- To the surprise of no one, all three Red Sox free agents who were presented with qualifying offers last week -- outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, shortstop Stephen Drew and first baseman Mike Napoli -- rejected the offers by Monday's 5 p.m. deadline.

Had any of the three accepted, they would have been considered signed by the Red Sox for $14.1 million salaries for 2014. The $14.1 million figure is tantamount to the average salary of the top 125 players in baseball in 2013.

Rejecting the offers doesn't preclude any of the three from re-signing with Red Sox. Each is free to negotiate a deal of any length with the Red Sox, or any of the other 29 major-league teams.

Napoli remains the safest bet to return to the organization. According to an industry source, the Sox have already begun negotiations on a multiyear deal that would keep Napoli with the Red Sox for at least two years and perhaps longer.

Ellsbury, meanwhile, is a longshot to be here next season. As the second-most in-demand position player on this winter's free-agent market, behind the Yankees' Robinson Cano, Ellsbury figures to command a nine-figure deal over six or more seasons, which might price out the Red Sox.

Drew -- who, like Ellsbury, is represented by agent Scott Boras -- could return, though it's doubtful the Red Sox would be willing to give him more than two years.

Should any of the free agents sign elsewhere, the Red Sox will be compensated with a draft pick by virtue of having been given quallifying offers. If they sign with a team that finished with one of the 10 worst records in 2013, the Sox would receive a second-round pick. If they sign with any of the other 19 teams, the pick would come after the first round.