BOSTON — From the duck boats to the negotiating table — such is the life of Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington.
Cherington announced Monday — just two days after the Red Sox’ rolling rally celebration through the streets of Boston — that the club is making qualifying offers to free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew. The Red Sox will not make Jarrod Saltalamacchia a qualifying offer.
This means that Ellsbury, Napoli and Drew each have the option to accept a one-year, $14.1 million contract — the $14.1 million is the average of the top 20 percent of major league salaries from this past season. If a player accepts, he will be slated to return to the Red Sox at that salary, although there still exists the possibility of a long-term deal being negotiated. If a player rejects, he is free to sign elsewhere in addition to the Red Sox. A rejection also attaches draft-pick compensation to the player, meaning that whichever team signs the player would need to relinquish a first-round draft pick to the Red Sox — unless that team finished with one of the 10 worst records in baseball, at which point the team would relinquish a second-round pick.
It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Ellsbury will reject the qualifying offer, as he’s believed to be seeking a multiyear deal in excess of $100 million, and it also seems likely that Napoli will reject his offer in pursuit of a multiyear contract. Drew, meanwhile, has an interesting scenario. The shortstop is coming off a strong season — with the exception of his offensive woes in the postseason — but the draft-pick compensation that would be attached to him if he rejects the Red Sox’ qualifying offer could hurt his market value.
In any event, Cherington said that each qualifying offer was made under the assumption that each player would accept. In other words, the Red Sox would be pleased to have all three players back, even though it’s highly unlikely.
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