Red Sox intend to make qualifying offers to Ellsbury, Drew, and Napoli

Brian Blanco

Could the Red Sox' decision have an effect on the Mets' offseason?

Earlier today, Jon Heyman reported that the Boston Red Sox intend to make qualifying offers to impending free agents Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli, and Jacoby Ellsbury, all of whom have been seen as potential fits for the New York Mets.

Qualifying offers this year are one-year deals worth $14.1 million. If a player rejects the qualifying offer and chooses to test the free agent market, any team that signs him would lose its highest available unprotected draft pick. For the Mets, that means that they would lose their second-round pick and a portion of their bonus pool. Teams that sign multiple players who were extended qualifying offers lose multiple draft picks.

It has long been obvious that Ellsbury would receive a qualifying offer, but it was previously unknown whether Napoli and Drew would. Drew has been mentioned as a possible fit for the Mets at shortstop. In 2013, Mets shortstops hit .215/.285/.276 while Drew hit .253/.333/.433. It is not yet known whether Drew’s poor performance in the postseason will hurt his market value. Drew hit .111/.140/.204 in 57 postseason plate appearances.

Napoli initially signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Red Sox last offseason, but the discovery of a chronic hip condition led the Red Sox to cut their offer to a one-year, $5 million deal. Napoli had a strong year, hitting .259/.360/.482 while playing above average defense at first base. However, recent statements by Mets COO Jeff Wilpon indicate that the Mets will go with an internal first base candidate in 2014. Reports have also indicated that the Mets are unlikely to pursue Jacoby Ellsbury this winter.

For the Mets, this means that a potential fit like Stephen Drew may not even reach free agency. If Drew and his agents believe that having draft pick compensation attached would limit his market, they may choose to accept the qualifying offer. If Drew does reach free agency, it is possible that he would come at a cheaper price, since any team signing him would need to give up a draft pick.

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