NEW YORK --Freddie Freeman, World Series MVP Jorge Soler and Eddie Rosario of the champion Atlanta Braves were among 160 players who became free agents Wednesday as an uncertain offseason started with a lockout threat looming.
About 50 additional players are potentially eligible, pending decisions on options in their contracts for 2022.
Free agents can negotiate contracts with any team starting Sunday evening.
A slow market is expected as teams hesitate to make commitments before they know what the sport's economic structure will be next year. The collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the players' association expires Dec. 1, and a lockout appears likely.
Los Angeles Dodgersright-hander Trevor Bauer, who has been on paid leave since July 2 while he is investigated under MLB's domestic violence policy, can opt out of the remaining two years in his contract, which calls for $32 million salaries in 2022 and '23.
Teams must decide by 5 p.m. EST Sunday whether to make $18.4 million qualifying offers to their players who became free agents. A player is eligible for a qualifying offer only if he was with the team for the entire 2021 season and has not previously received a qualifying offer.
If a team makes a qualifying offer to a player who signs a major league contract with another club before the amateur draft, his former club would receive a draft pick as compensation at the end of the first round or at the end of competitive balance round B. The placement depends on whether the new contract is worth $50 million or more and the revenue-sharing and luxury tax status of the team losing the player.
A free agent could be made a qualifying offer only if he had been with the same team continuously since opening day and had never received a qualifying offer before.
Qualifying offers began after the 2012 season, and only seven of 96 offers have been accepted.