It doesn’t take long for baseball to shift completely to offseason mode once the World Series concludes. With the seventh game being played Wednesday, free agency officially starts at 7 a.m. (PDT) Thursday.
The Mariners have seven possible free agents, although club officials previously indicated plans to exercise a $7 million option to retain outfielder Seth Smith, whose deal includes a $250,000 buyout.
While the Mariners have a three-day window to inform Smith of their decision, six other players will, under terms of the labor agreement, automatically become free agents.
Those six are catcher Chris Iannetta; first basemen Adam Lind and Dae-Ho Lee; outfielders Nori Aoki and Franklin Gutierrez; and reliever Drew Storen.
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All clubs, by rule, retain exclusive negotiating rights to their free agents for five days following the Series’ conclusion. Clubs must also notify those players within that span whether they intend to extend a one-year qualifying offer.
The value of all qualifying offers this year is $17.2 million, which is determined by averaging the top 125 salaries from the previous season.
The Mariners are not expected to extend qualifying offers to any of their free agents. Storen is not eligible for such an offer because he didn’t spent the entire season with the club.
Under current rules, a club receives a compensation pick between the first and second rounds of next year’s MLB Draft if a player receiving a qualifying offer signs with another club.
The player’s new club also loses its highest-available pick — unless it is one of the draft’s top 10 picks. A team with a top-10 pick forfeits its second selection if it signs a player who received a qualifying offer.
The Mariners currently have the 18th overall pick in the 2017 draft, although they could move up if clubs above them forfeit their picks by signing players who receive qualifying offers.
Those are the current rules under a labor agreement that expires Dec. 1.
Players who receive an offer have one week to accept it or reject it. Those who accept it are considered signed players and can’t be traded, without their consent, until June 16.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners