Red Sox free agents will be key to this year's market, but Boston's decisions about which players they'll extend qualifying offers will strongly affect the market as well, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Jacoby Ellsbury will, obviously, almost certainly receive a qualifying offer. Sherman also expects that Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will, and qualifying offers would significantly dampen the market for those three players. Teams will not want to forfeit draft picks to sign Napoli, Drew or Saltalamacchia, who, as free agents, would likely receive less per year than the $14.1MM qualifying offer, even if draft pick forfeiture didn't exist. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- The Rays face a number of tough decisions this offseason, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. At the center of their offseason, of course, is pitcher David Price, who is set to receive a raise on his $10.1MM 2013 contract in arbitration. Assuming the Rays pick up their options on Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar, they'll have an additional $23.6MM tied up in those two plus Evan Longoria, Joel Peralta and Matt Moore. Add in ten more arbitration-eligible players, nine free agents and what's likely to still be a very low 2014 budget, and Andrew Friedman and the Rays' front office are likely to have their hands full this winter.
- Hiring Cal Ripken to replace the retiring Davey Johnson as manager would be a bad idea for the Nationals, Mike Harris of the Washington Times writes. Harris argues that the Nats don't need to make a flashy choice for their managerial job. They don't need a manager who will receive tons of media attention (even if he doesn't ask for it). Instead, what they need is a manager with experience, and while Ripken might be a good manager once he has experience, he doesn't have it yet. Nats bench coach Randy Knorr and Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams would be better choices, Harris says.