Hot Stove roundup: Let free agency begin
Cano, Ellsbury, other players hit open market, can sign with any team
At 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday morning, Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury and a pool of talented other players became eligible to be signed by another team.
Free agency is officially live.
Teams had a short period of exclusive negotiating privileges until Monday's midnight deadline.
Cano and Ellsbury were presented qualifying offers of $14.1 million for the 2014 season by their respective clubs, but both are expected to decline in pursuit of lucrative long-term deals.
The $14.1 million is determined by averaging the top 125 player salaries from the 2013 season -- the amount is the same regardless of the free agent. The player has until Monday at 5 p.m. ET to accept the qualifying offer. If he rejects it and signs elsewhere, the team making the offer will receive a compensatory Draft pick between the first and second round. Any team that signs a free agent who was extended a qualifying offer will relinquish their first-round pick. The exception is that if the signing team's first pick is in the top 10, then they will instead forfeit their second pick.
"Jacoby's a terrific player as everyone knows," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Monday. "Of course, we know we're a better team when he's on the field than when he's not. That's about all there is to say at this point. We'll just keep talking."
There's added uncertainty this offseason as teams are receiving the first influx of dollars from Major League Baseball's national television packages. The extra money could push the contracts of this offseason's top free agents even higher.
While the top free agents have continued to demand record-breaking contracts over recent years, the Red Sox defied that strategy last offseason, going after second-tier free agents and second-tier prices, aiming for depth and character over statistical dominance. Their strategy rewarded them with a World Series title, and other franchises could take note.
And there could be another Yu Darvish-type player about to take the Majors by storm. Masahiro Tanaka, a split-finger-throwing right-hander who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in Japan this season, could fetch a hefty posting fee in addition to his salary demands. The Yankees are expected to pursue Tanaka to help a starting rotation that ranked 18th in the Majors in 2013 with a 4.08 ERA.
While Ellsbury tops the outfield market, there are talented alternatives in Shin-Shoo Choo, Carlos Beltran, Curtis Granderson, Nelson Cruz, Marlon Byrd and Corey Hart, among others.
The starting-pitcher market will also be one to watch. Teams across the Major Leagues have made a habit of locking up their own starters to long-term deals before they reach free agency. Tanaka could top a pool of starters that also includes Ubaldo Jimenez and Hiroki Kuroda, who were each presented with qualifying offers by their respective clubs. Ervin Santana, Bartolo Colon, Matt Garza and A.J. Burnett are also available.
Brian McCann is just 29 years old and could fetch a strong salary as the top free-agent catcher on the market.
As of 12:01 a.m. ET, everyone is up for grabs.