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Shohei Ohtani, Cody Bellinger among 7 to get qualifying offers as 168 free agents hit the market

NEW YORK (AP) — Two-way star Shohei Ohtani was among seven players who received $20,325,000 qualifying offers from their former teams Monday as the free agent market opened for 168 players.

All seven players are likely to turn down the offers by the Nov. 14 deadline to accept in favor of multiyear contracts on the open market.

In addition to the Los Angeles Angels' offer to Ohtani, the others to receive qualifying offers were outfielder Cody Bellinger (Chicago Cubs), pitchers Josh Hader and Blake Snell (San Diego), Aaron Nola (Philadelphia), Sonny Gray (Minnesota) and third baseman Matt Chapman (Toronto).

By making a qualifying offer — the average of the top 125 contracts by average annual value — a team would receive an additional selection in next July's amateur draft if a player signs elsewhere before then. A team signing the player could lose one or two draft picks.

In a sign of the relative weakness of the free agent class, half as many players received qualifying offers as last year. Qualifying offers began after the 2012 season, and 10 of 124 offers have been accepted.

Ohtani heads a free agent class that also includes starting pitchers Eduardo Rodriguez and Jordan Montgomery, along with Nola, Snell, Gray and Japanese star Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who is not attached to draft-pick compensation.

Among the 169 players who became free agents, Milwaukee's Colin Rea was the only one to re-sign during the five-day period for exclusive negotiations with a former club. He agreed to a $4.5 million, one-year contract.

On the last day to resolve contract options, Atlanta exercised a $20 million option on right-hander Charlie Morton, who went 14-12 with a 3.64 ERA in 30 starts and turns 40 on Nov. 12. The Braves declined options on outfielder Eddie Rosario ($9 million) and right-handers Collin McHugh ($6 million) and Kirby Yates ($5.75 million). Rosario gets a $1 million buyout and Yates $1.25 million.

Mark Canha’s $11.5 million option for 2024 was exercised by Detroit, two days after the outfielder was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers for minor league pitcher Blake Holub. Milwaukee could have paid a $2 million buyout and allowed Canha to become a free agent.

Toronto exercised a club option on reliever Chad Green that guarantees the right-hander $21 million for 2024 and 2025. The 32-year-old returned Sept. 1 following Tommy John surgery while with the New York Yankees on June 1, 2022, and went 3-0 with a 5.25 ERA in 12 games.

Right-hander Michael Wacha went free after San Diego declined to exercise $16.5 million options for 2024 and '25 and the pitcher turned down player options at $6.5 million for 2024 and $6 million for each of the following two years.

Miami declined options on right-handers Johnny Cueto ($10.5 million) and Matt Barnes ($9 million). Cueto gets a $2.5 million buyout and Barnes $2.75 million.

Other players whose options were exercised were San Francisco right-hander Alex Cobb ($10 million), Mets left-hander Brooks Raley ($6.5 million) and Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Blake Treinen ($1 million).

Tigers shortstop Javier Báez, Giants outfielder Michael Conforto and right-hander Ross Stripling, Miami first baseman Josh Bell and Cubs pitcher Drew Smyly decided not to opt out.

Báez kept salaries of $25 million in each of the next two seasons and $24 million apiece in 2026 and '27 after slumping to a .222 average, nine homers and 59 RBIs in his second season with Detroit.

Conforto retained an $18 million salary for next season after hitting .232 with 15 homers and 58 RBIs, and Bell kept a $16.5 million salary after batting .247 with 22 homers and 75 RBIs for Cleveland and the Marlins, who acquired him on Aug. 1. Stripling kept a $12.5 million salary after going 0-5 with a 5.36 ERA in 11 starts and 11 relief appearances.

Smyly kept a $10.5 million salary. He went 11-11 with a 5.00 ERA in 41 appearances last season, including 23 starts.

Mets right-hander Adam Ottavino declined a $6.75 million player option. He was 1-7 with a 3.21 ERA in 66 relief appearances.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb