How was your week

Posted: October 31, 2020 by Sports Time Radio in sports

The Major League Baseball season ended four days ago with the Los Angeles Dodgers claiming the short season World Series over the Tampa Bay Rays. Now four days may not seem like a lot of time, but teams are already shaping their roster s for the hopefully 162 game 2021 season.

These past few days teams have been making decisions on which players will have the option years on their contracts picked up for the 2021 and which players will be allowed to go into free agency. In some cases a player has to be bought out of that final year of his contract by a team before he can become a free agent. There where no big time players that where allowed to go into free agency, but there where quite a few names that people will know that will be entering the free agent market. Let’s take a look at a few of the players that are now free agents.

I mentioned the Rays earlier and they where one of the teams who have decided not to pick up contract options on a couple of players we just saw contribute to them getting to the World Series. Catcher Mike Zunino and starting pitcher Charlie Morton didn’t have their contract picked up by Tampa Bay and they are now both free agents.

Zunino was scheduled to make $4.5 Million dollar in 2021 while Morton salary for 2021 would’ve been $15 million dollars. Now Tampa Bay has expressed interest in trying to bring both players back, but that may be a tough task to achieve. I think that Tampa Bay has a better chance of bringing Zunino back than they do Morton.

Zunino is a power hitting catcher who has improved defensively in his two seasons with the Rays. Zunino has split time with Michael Perez behind the plate while with the Rays and you have to wonder if Tampa Bay thinks Perez might be ready to take over full time in 2021. If that’s the case the Rays would probably like to see Zunino accept a pay cut to return.

Now getting Morton to comeback for less money might be a little more difficult as it appears as though he’s going to have quite a few teams interested in his services.

Morton also spent two season with Tampa Bay. He made 42 starts for them and was 18-8 with an ERA of 3.33, but Morton really showed his value in the post season. With the exception of that final World Series start Morton was lights out. He didn’t allow a run in his two American League Championship Series starts and only gave up one run in his Wild Card Series start.

Now there has been some talk before the shortened 2020 season that Morton would retire, but since it wasn’t a full season maybe Morton would like to comeback for one more run. If he is interested their will be a number of contending teams interested in trying to sign him and he might get more than the $15 million dollars he was set to make on his contract option with the Rays. I’m sure Tampa Bay would want him back for less money, but Morton may have other options.

Another starting pitcher who’s contract option wasn’t picked up was Jon Lester of the Chicago Cubs, but I don’t think anyone is surprised by that. Lester’s option was for $25 million dollars and he’s no longer carries that kind of dollar value as a starting pitcher. Now before you feel too bad for Lester his contract contained a $10 million dollar buyout; so he was paid quite well just to go into free agency.

After the Cubs announced they wouldn’t be picking up Lester’s option they made it very clear that they would like him to return and I think they’ll have a good chance of bringing him back. I just can’t see a team offering Lester anywhere near the $25 million dollars he was scheduled to make in 2021; so he’d probably like to stay with a team he’s familiar with.

Lester went 3-3 in 12 starts for the Cubs in 2020 and posted an ERA of 5.16. Unfortunately the Cubs didn’t hang around in the post season long enough for Lester to make a start for them there in 2020.

The Cubs like a lot of major league teams are short on starting pitching; so bringing Lester back makes sense for them; they’d just like to do it at a reduced rate.

There where also a couple of other players who have been with there teams for their entire career that now find themselves on the free agent market after their long time teams didn’t pick up contract options on them.

Brett Gardner who’s spent his entire 13 year career with the New York Yankees and Ryan Braun who has been with the Milwaukee Brewers for 14 seasons both find themselves on the free agent market.

It’s not a huge surprise that the Yankees would let Garner go into free agency. Gardner was due to make $10 million dollars in 2021 which isn’t a huge sum for a team like the Yankees to carry, but it appears that the Yankees would like to final open up an outfield spot for Clint Frazier to play full time. It’s difficult to see Gardner playing for another team and I’m sure the Yankees would be willing to bring him back as a 4th outfielder with a smaller salary number, but will have to wait and see if that happens.

Braun had a $15 million dollar mutual option that the Brewers decide to not renew on their end. Instead Braun will be given a $4 million dollar buyout and be allowed to become a free agent.

It will be interesting to see what happens to Braun as a free agent. Milwaukee is a small market team and with the exception of a player here and there they don’t hand out big contracts and they also prefer to stick with younger players; so a soon to be 37 year old Braun might not fit into their plans, but could he fit into someone else’s? While it’s doubtful Braun could be an everyday outfielder at this point in his career he could be an interesting pick up for an American League team as a designated hitter and part time outfielder. Where do you see Braun playing in 2021?

The Cleveland Indians decided to not pick up the contract options on three of their players. Domingo Santana, Carlos Santana and Bad Hand, but they did pick up the option year on catcher Robert Perez’s contract.

Now I wouldn’t be surprise if both of the Santana’s end up back in an Indians uniform for the 2021 season, but Hand should have some other teams taking a good long look at him and the Indians probably wouldn’t try to match an bigger contract offer that Hand might get.

It’s interesting that the Indians decided to pay Hand a $1 million dollar buyout instead of picking up his $10 million dollar salary for next season especially since he led all of baseball in saves with 16 in 2020. In the three seasons he spent with Cleveland Hand recorded 58 saves in his time there and posted an ERA of 2.78.

There are a lot of teams that will be in the market for a closer this off season; so it won’t be a big surprise f Hand actually gets a better contract than the $10 million dollars he was scheduled to get from the Indians.

Let me know where you think these now free agents might land? Do you see them going to new teams? Or do you have them resigning for less money with the team that just let them go?

The Sports Time Radio podcast airs live on, but if you miss the podcast live just head over to and you can listen any time you want to.

You can also find me on Twitter @Burketime

  1. I think Lester would also go back to Boston on a one year deal. Tampa doesn’t have the big bucks to compete so they’ll lose some of their big name players from time to time. But somehow they always seem to get an obscure player who winds up doing a great job for them.


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