This is the first in a series of pieces previewing offseason club option decisions. We’ll start with catchers and infielders…
- Welington Castillo, White Sox ($8MM option or $500K buyout): This looks like a buyout waiting to happen for the White Sox, who have gotten awful offensive production from the typically competent Castillo. The 32-year-old has hit .184/.262/.340 with six home runs in 164 plate appearances. Castillo has also graded as one of the game’s worst defensive backstops.
- Tyler Flowers, Braves ($6MM option or $2MM buyout): The 33-year-old Flowers’ offensive output has waned this season in comparison to the previous three campaigns, though his line – .229/.307/.432 with nine HRs in 215 PA – is closer to average than terrible relative to his position. And Flowers remains a strong defender, so it’ll be a surprise if the Braves buy him out – especially with Brian McCann’s future in question.
- Yan Gomes, Nationals ($9MM option or $1MM buyout): This has been a miserable year for Gomes, a former Indian whom the Nationals acquired last offseason. Gomes, 32, owns a .207/.313/.327 line with six homers across 240 PA, and has been a mixed bag behind the plate. With fellow catcher Kurt Suzuki under control through next season, the Nationals may not feel compelled to bring Gomes back.
- Yasmani Grandal, Brewers ($16MM mutual option or $2.25MM buyout): At this rate, the Brewers will exercise their half of Grandal’s mutual option, but he’s sure to decline his end of it. Grandal’s amid another strong all-around year and, unlike last offseason, will enter free agency without a qualifying offer weighing him down.
- Chris Iannetta, Rockies ($4.25MM option or $750K buyout): It’s not a prohibitive price for Iannetta, but he hasn’t done himself any favors by hitting .212/.306/.409 with six dingers in 157 trips to the plate as Tony Wolters’ backup. Expect the Rockies to move on without Iannetta.
- Matt Adams, Nationals ($4MM option or $1MM buyout): This will amount to a $3MM decision for the Nationals, who are already paying Adams that much this year. The 30-year-old has been a useful piece for the club, with a powerful .245/.296/.532 line and 17 HRs in 233 PA. The guess is the Nats will exercise his option, especially with other first base choices Ryan Zimmerman, Howie Kendrick and Gerardo Parra possibly on the way out after this season.
- Anthony Rizzo, Cubs ($16.5MM option or $2MM buyout): The Cubs will obviously pick up Rizzo’s option.
- Eric Thames, Brewers ($7.5MM option or $1MM buyout): Thames has somewhat bounced back from an underwhelming 2018, his price for next year is reasonable, and the Brewers just sent fellow first baseman Jesus Aguilar packing. They’ll likely keep Thames around for 2020.
- Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals ($18MM option or $2MM buyout): Zimmerman’s days as a star third baseman are long gone, and the now-first baseman’s time as a National is likely to end after the season.
- Starlin Castro, Marlins ($16MM option or $1MM buyout): It’ll be easy for the low-budget Marlins to move on from Castro, who’s mired in the worst season of his career at the age of 29.
- Wilmer Flores, Diamondbacks ($6MM option or $500K buyout): The 28-year-old Flores was a quality bench piece for the Mets prior to this season, but his first (and possibly only) D-backs campaign has been an injury-limited one. The production hasn’t been great, either, as Flores has hit just .277/.327/.387 with a pair of HRs in 168 attempts. As of now, he looks like a strong possibility for a buyout.
- Jedd Gyorko, Dodgers ($13MM option or $1MM buyout): Speaking of injuries, Gyorko has taken just 62 PA this season, and he has slashed a meager .196/.274/.304 in that sample size. The Dodgers acquired the soon-to-be 31-year-old from the Cardinals at last week’s trade deadline, but despite LA’s deep pockets, he figures to hit free agency after the season.
- Jason Kipnis, Indians ($16.5MM option or $2.5MM buyout): In terms of aggregate production, this is the third straight unspectacular season for the 32-year-old Kipnis, who has batted .255/.317/.405 with 11 homers through 383 PA. Kipnis has been a lot better since an ice-cold start to the season, but so good that the budget-conscious Indians will pick up his pricey option? Highly doubtful. While Kipnis has been an Indian since they chose him in the second round of the 2009 draft, his long run with the organization may be on the verge of ending.
- Mike Moustakas, Brewers ($11MM mutual option or $3MM buyout): Like Grandal, the Brewers figure to exercise Moustakas’ option. But Moustakas is likely to join Grandal in taking another stab at free agency. Set to turn 31 next month, Moustakas has performed well this year at second (where he hadn’t played prior to 2019) and third, and is on track for his second 30-HR campaign.
- Freddy Galvis, Blue Jays ($5.5MM option or $1MM buyout): It’s not a crazy price for the durable, switch-hitting Galvis, who has slashed a competent .272/.306/.455 and smacked 18 homers over 449 PA in his age-29 campaign. But it may not be palatable for the Blue Jays, who have seen touted middle infield prospects Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio emerge as major leaguers this year.
- We already covered Flores, Gyorko and Moustakas, the only third base-capable players with options.