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Weighing the Options

Now that the 2018 MLB season has come to a close and a new champion has been crowned, teams are now focusing on building their rosters for the coming year. The first item on the agenda is making decisions regarding player and team options in contracts. Options may be held by the player (player option), the franchise (club option), or mutually (mutual option). If the options are not picked up, the player becomes a free agent unless ineligible.

I will be listing Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays and other marquee MLB players with 2019 options below per

Chicago Cubs

Cole Hamels, SP

$20 million w/$6 million buyout

Status: Undetermined

Hamels was a strong contributor to the Cubs’ 95-win season and hopes for a postseason run after joining the Northsiders late in 2018 (4-3, 2.36 ERA with Chicago) after a season-ending injury to Yu Darvish and a disappointing performance from Tyler Chatwood. The team is very likely to exercise the option to keep him with the team or negotiate a new contract.

Brandon Kintzler, RP

$10 million club option/$5 million player option

Status: Club option declined/player option exercised

Kintzler posted a 7.00 ERA with the Cubs (4.60 for the entire season) after being acquired from the Nationals in 2018 and was not included on the Wild Card roster. He exercised his player option and will remain on the Cubs roster until further notice.

José Quintana, SP

$10.5 million club option w/$1 million buyout

Status: Picked up

The Cubs picked up Quintana’s club option, and he is expected to continue as a starting pitcher for the Northsiders in 2019 after going 13-11 with a 4.03 ERA in 2018.

Pedro Strop, RP

$6.25 million club option w/$500,000 buyout

Status: Undetermined

Strop has become one of the all-time best relievers in Cubs franchise history since joining the team in 2013 in the trade that also brought 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta to the North Side, and Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein has been highly complimentary of Strop’s performance and leadership, so it would be shocking if the Cubs did not pick up his option or reach another arrangement. I for one will be highly disappointed if one of my favorite Cubs does not return for another season of #hatstotheleft.

Jason Heyward, OF

Opt-out clause for remaining 5 years/$106 million of current contract

Status: Undetermined

Heyward won Gold Gloves during his first two seasons with the Cubs, but his offensive numbers were extremely disappointing and did not pick up until 2018. Thanks to his poor performance at the plate during his first two seasons, he has only managed an OPS of 81+ during his first three seasons in Chicago. Therefore, he is not likely to wish to test the free agent market again after signing a well-paying deal with the Cubs.

Toronto Blue Jays

Justin Smoak, INF

$8 million club option w/$250,000 buyout

Status: Picked up

Smoak is a popular player in Toronto, and it seems the team is not quite ready to hand first base over to prospect Rowdy Tellez on an everyday basis in 2019.

Yangervis Solarte, INF

$5.5 million club option w/$750,000 buyout

Status: Club option declined

Solarte was acquired by the Jays ahead of the 2018 season and hit .226/.378/.655 in 2018 with 54 RBI and 17 HR. His club option was declined by Toronto, but he will stay on the roster and become eligible for arbitration as he is not yet able to become a free agent.

Other Marquee Players

Madison Bumgarner, Giants SP

$12 million club option w/$1.5 million buyout

Status: Picked up

The four-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion remains one of MLB’s top starting pitchers, finishing 6-7 with a 3.26 ERA during a disappointing 73-89 season for the Giants.

Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks INF

$14.5 million club option w/$2 million buyout

Status: Picked up

Goldschmidt has been one of MLB’s top first basemen and is a six-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner. It is being speculated that the Diamondbacks may be looking to rebuild after finishing just out of the National League playoff picture in 2018, and Goldschmidt would bring in a big return on the trade market.

Jeremy Jeffress, Brewers RP

$3.17 million club option w/no buyout

Status: Picked up

Jeffress was the Brewers’ closer during their 2018 NL Central championship season that included a run to the NLCS before being eliminated by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He will be returning to the Crew next year, but it remains to be seen how well their bullpen arms will hold up after going deep into the playoffs in 2018.

Chris Sale, Red Sox SP

$15 million club option w/$1 million buyout

Status: Picked up

Sale was key to the Red Sox’ World Series championship in 2018 and will remain with the team as it defends the title in 2019.

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers SP

Opt-out clause for remaining 2 years and $65 million of current contract

Status: Undetermined

Kershaw, the current face of the Dodgers franchise, is the top subject of speculation among MLB fans. He came to an agreement with the team to extend the deadline for his decision on the opt-out clause to Friday at 4 p.m. ET. Although he may decide to become a free agent and would have plenty of suitors, he is widely expected to remain with the Dodgers under the terms of his current deal or negotiate a new contract.

David Price, Red Sox SP

Opt-out clause for remaining 4 years and $127 million of current contract

Status: Not opting out

The man who I thought should have been the 2018 World Series co-MVP with the actual winner, INF Steve Pearce, disclosed before the Red Sox World Series parade that he had decided to stay with Boston under his current deal and defend the Red Sox’s 2018 title.

Mike Moustakas, Brewers INF

$15 million mutual option w/$1 million buyout

Status: Declined by player

Moustakas was one of the Brewers’ high-profile acquisitions for the 2018 playoff run. Despite having an unusually high degree of infield depth and another star third baseman, INF Travis Shaw, the Brewers were able to make it work, winning the NL Central Division title and forcing a seventh game of the NLCS before being eliminated. However, Shaw and INF Jonathan Schoop, who was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in 2018, will continue under contract with the Brewers, which means there is not much incentive to keep Moustakas on the team when they could spend on starting pitching instead. Moustakas chose to decline his option and test free agency.

Please continue to follow this blog for more updates on roster changes and moves for the Cubs and Jays ahead of the 2019 season.