Soler, Freeman, Correa among 160 free agents who hit market

Sports from the AP

Atlanta Braves’ Jorge Soler celebrates in the dugout after a three-run home run during the third inning in Game 6 of baseball’s World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

NEW YORK (AP) — 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.

Houston shortstop Carlos Correa and Astros pitcher Justin Verlander, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, also became free agents.

Other stars who hit the market include Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Max Scherzer, Marcus Semien, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Michael Conforto and Kevin Gausman.

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.

Catcher Tucker Barnhart, whose contract includes a $7.5 million club option, was traded Wednesday from Cincinnati to Detroit for infielder Nick Quintana. A decision is pending on Barnhart’s option.

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.

Dodgers right-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.

Boston designated hitter J.D. Martinez must decide on a player option as does Milwaukee outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.

San Francisco catcher Buster Posey planned to announce his retirement Thursday, according to a person with direct knowledge of the decision. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because Posey had yet to make his decision public. The Athletic first reported Posey’s pending retirement.

The Giants said last month that they would exercise Posey’s $22 million club option for the 2022 season as long as the 34-year-old veteran catcher wanted to keep playing.

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.

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AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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