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Joc Pederson, Kyle Schwarber among 10 MLB players to become free agents

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NEW YORK — Atlanta outfielder Joc Pederson and Boston infielder-outfielder Kyle Schwarber were among 10 players who became free agents Thursday when they both declined 2022 mutual options in their contracts.

Pederson agreed with the Cubs in February to a $7 million, one-year contract that included a $4.5 million salary and a $10 million mutual option with a $2.5 million buyout. He was traded to Atlanta in July and helped the Braves win their first World Series title since 1995.

Pederson had two homers and five RBIs in the National League Division Series against Milwaukee and one homer and four RBIs in the NL Championship Series against the Dodgers, then went 1-for-15 in the World Series against Houston.

Schwarber agreed to a $10 million, one-year contract with Washington in January that included a $7 million salary and an $11.5 million mutual option with a $3 million buyout. He was traded to the Red Sox in July.

Outfielder Kole Calhoun‘s $9 million option was declined by Arizona, triggering a $2 million buyout and completing a $16 million, two-year contract.

Mets outfielder Kevin Pillar became a free agent after he and New York both declined options. His deal called for a $3.6 million salary this year and included a $2.9 million player option and a $6.4 million club option with a $1.4 million buyout.

Milwaukee outfielder Avisail Garcia declined his part of a mutual option. His deal guaranteed $18 million in salary and included a $12 million mutual option with a $2 million buyout, but only if exercised by the player and declined by the club.

Cincinnati outfielder Nick Castellanos became a free agent after exercising his right to opt out of the last two years of his $68 million, four-year contract.

Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner and reliever Darren O’Day declined mutual options, as did New York.

Oakland left-hander Andrew Chafin’s $5.25 million mutual option was exercised by the team and declined by the player, triggering a $500,000 buyout.

Philadelphia outfielder Andrew McCutchen, signed as a free agent to a $50 million, three-year contract in December 2018, gets a $3 million buyout instead of a $15 million salary.

There have been 170 players who became free agents following the World Series, and about 40 players await decisions on options by Sunday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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MLB free-agency grades – Texas Rangers bet big on their future with Marcus Semien signing

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Raise your hand if, like me, you uttered something unprintable when you heard the reported terms of Marcus Semien‘s new contract and the team that had offered them. That’s what we call a knee-jerk reaction, which isn’t always rational or correct. Your real response is what you come up with after thinking through the factors involved. Often, then, you see a reason and a rhyme, even with surprising news.

For me, after thinking this deal through, I still think something mildly unprintable, but it’s a word that’s less severe than my knee-jerk phrase — and it comes with a slightly more positive connotation.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Semien and his representatives agreed to a seven-year, $175 million deal with the Texas Rangers. It’s the richest deal by far of this year’s free-agent season, matching the average annual value of Justin Verlander‘s deal with the Astros ($25 million) but for a half-decade longer.

In finding a new team, Semien becomes the second member of the long-anticipated shortstop free-agent class of 2021-22 to find a long-term home (the first being Francisco Lindor, who agreed to an extension with the Mets last season). Let’s consider that class with a few numbers from baseball-reference.com:

Here, it’s worth noting that Passan is also reporting that Semien is far from likely to be the last of the Rangers’ high-level free-agent targets, even among that shortstop class. Still, for now, we’ll look at how he fits as if he were the jewel of the Rangers’ winter push, and not just a jewel.



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Twins, Buxton find perfect balance in incentive-laden deal

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For his first 24 games of 2021, Byron Buxton was the best baseball player on the planet. He hit for average. He hit home runs. He hit doubles. He stole some bases. He played center field like Hermes, only in cleats instead of winged sandals. He hit .370/.408/.772 with nine home runs, 10 doubles and five stolen bases. He led all hitters in slugging percentage and trailed only Mike Trout in OPS.

This was the ceiling we had longed dreamed of for Buxton, who at his best is the most dynamic player in baseball this side of Shohei Ohtani: a combination of power, speed and defense that would make him a modern-day Willie Mays or Ken Griffey Jr.

Of course, it’s unfair to compare anybody to those two, and it was unfair to expect Buxton to keep hitting at that level. But sadly, we don’t even know how close he would have come, because once again the injury bug wrecked Buxton’s season. On May 7, he went on the injured list with a hip strain, suffered while running to first base on a groundout. He returned on June 19, and in his third game back, he suffered a fracture in his left hand when Reds pitcher Tyler Mahle hit him with a 94-mph fastball.

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Avisail Garcia, Miami Marlins reach 4-year deal, sources say

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Outfielder Avisail Garcia and the Miami Marlins are in agreement on a four-year, $53 million contract, a source told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Sunday.

Garcia, 30, spent the past two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers. He hit .262 in 2021, with 29 home runs and 86 RBIs — both career highs.

Miami had some money to spend in free agency after going 67-95 this past season, and made an early move with Garcia, one that helps shore up the team’s outfield.

CEO Derek Jeter had said he planned to be active this offseason.

“For the first time, really since we’ve been here as an ownership group, I expect to be pretty active — or I should say, have active conversations. There’s two sides to it,” he said in Octover.

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