The Cleveland Indians will not be extending qualifying offers to Mike Napoli or Rajai Davis prior to the 5:00 p.m. deadline. This year’s qualifying offer was $17.2 million, which likely represents more than either player would make in the free agent market.
Indians will not not be making qualifying offers to any free agents, including Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis.— paul hoynes (@hoynsie) November 7, 2016
Napoli, who will be entering his age 35 season in 2017, started the season hot for the Indians after signing a one-year, $7 million deal in the offseason, and he quickly became one of the team’s clubhouse leaders. His bat cooled off considerably late in the season, however, eventually culminating in a 3-for-15 showing in the World Series. He finished the regular season with a .239/.335/.465 slash and a team-leading 34 home runs.
Both the Indians and Napoli have expressed interest in the first baseman returning next season, so a lack of a qualifying offer does not mean he won’t be in an Indians uniform next season. The Indians did just pick up Carlos Santana’s $12 million option for 2017, so that may limit how much they are willing to spend on another DH/1B type like Napoli.
Davis is a similar story, although his role on the team was not quite as impactful as 34 home runs. He did, however, lead the Indians in stolen bases with 43 swiped bags and provided us with an incredible moment in Game 7 of the World Series, so there’s that. Davis was brought on last season with a one-year, $5.25 million deal.
This move (or lack of moves) should not come as a surprise for either player. At best, the Indians could have hoped that Napoli would reject the offer and they would get a draft pick out of it, but that’s a $17 million gamble they would probably lose. If they do want to bring Napoli back, it will likely be for less than the qualifying offer.
Marlon Byrd was eligible for a qualifying offer as well, but he probably won’t be in baseball next season...