The opt-out clause seems to be gaining in popularity over the last ten years or so. The most popular example is Alex Rodriguez's first contract, negotiated by Scott Boras in December of 2000. That record deal allowed A-Rod to opt out after the seventh year, and he did so (during the World Series) to eventually snare an even larger contract. We've also seen J.D. Drew, A.J. Burnett, C.C. Sabathia, and Rafael Soriano use opt-out clauses to their advantage. Vernon Wells had the ability to opt out after the 2011 season, but chose to stick with his current contract. Here's a look at current Major Leaguers with opt-out clauses or something similar:
- Zack Greinke, Dodgers. Greinke can opt out after the 2015 season, at which point he'd have three years and $71MM remaining ($23.67MM AAV). He'll be 32 at that point, so there's a possibility for another $100MM contract.
- Elvis Andrus, Rangers. Andrus' new deal with the Rangers, which was officially announced today, allows him to opt out after the 2018 or 2019 season. I haven't yet seen the year-by-year salary breakdown, but using the $15MM AAV, Andrus would either leave four years and $60MM or three years and $45MM on the table by opting out at age 30 or 31.
- Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers. Ryu may opt out after the 2017 season, leaving one year and $7MM on the table, if he reaches 750 innings pitched from 2013-17 (an average of 150 per year).
- Barry Zito, Giants. Zito has an $18MM club/vesting option for 2014, of which he may opt out and receive a $3.5MM buyout if it vests. The option vests with 200 innings in 2013, a level he has not reached since his last year in Oakland (2006).
- Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians. Having been traded in the midst of his contract, Jimenez can void the Indians' $8MM club option for 2014.
- Joe Nathan, Rangers. Nathan may void a $9MM club option for 2014, forfeiting a $750K buyout, with 55 games finished this year. He finished 62 in 2012.
- Derek Jeter, Yankees. Jeter has an $9.5MM player option for 2014 with a $3MM buyout. The option value increased by $1.5MM when Jeter won a Silver Slugger award last year, and would have gone up another $2MM had he finished one spot higher in the MVP voting. It is reasonable to expect Jeter to decline the player option, since he only needs to top one year and $6.5MM after the buyout to come out ahead.
- Mike Scioscia, Angels manager. Scioscia can walk away after 2015, leaving three years and $18MM on the table.
What's next for the opt-out clause? The Dodgers handed out two this offseason, and Andrus set a precedent for a non-free agent to get two of them. It'd be a fair request for Clayton Kershaw, even though Justin Verlander did not receive one. An opt-out clause could also be a target for Robinson Cano, though it's been more popular with Scott Boras than CAA.