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Reports: Robertson rejects Yanks’ QO

With the 5 p.m. ET deadline rapidly approaching, there have been multiple reports that Yankees reliever David Robertson has turned down New York’s one-year, $15.3-million qualifying offer.

Robertson, along with Francisco Liriano and Michael Cuddyer (who just signed a two-year deal with the Mets), were considered the most likely to accept their teams’ deal. No player has ever done so.

YES Network‘s Jack Curry first reported the news. Curry says the Yankees and Robertson will continue to work toward a more long-term deal.

–  Joey Nowak

Mets sign Cuddyer to 2-year deal

Just ahead of the 5 p.m. ET deadline for free agents to make a decision on their qualifying offer, Michael Cuddyer rejected the Rockies’ and agreed to a two-year deal with the Mets.

Cuddyer had been considered one of the 12 players who received an offer that could accept it. He would have been the first since the system began two years ago.

Now the Rockies will receive a compensation pick in the 2015 Draft and the Mets will lose the 15th pick in the Draft. New York will also lose the draft bonus money associated with the slot.

“Michael is a tremendous addition to the middle of our lineup,” Mets GM Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “He is a proven offensive threat who also brings versatility in the field with the ability to play multiple positions.”

Cuddyer won the NL batting title in 2013 with the Rockies after hitting a career-best .331 in 130 games. He played just 49 games last year because of a left shoulder strain and left hamstring strain, but still hit .332 with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs.

– Joey Nowak

Royals: Out on Shields, in on Santana and outfielders?

If the Royals lose out on James Shields — which is expected to be the case — there’s a possibility they could turn to a different former starter to help fill the void in the rotation.

Ervin Santana, who also received a qualifying offer this month (from the Braves), may be a better fit for Kansas City, who is likely to be priced out of a deal with Shields. Santana, 31, spent one season in KC, going 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA in 2013.

He received a qualifying offer after that season and turned it down, opting for free agency and held out until March 12 before signing on with the Braves. Despite all that waiting and deliberation last season, Santana is still expected to reject Atlanta’s qualifying offer before Monday’s deadline.

Regardless of whether they land Shields or Santana (or neither) the Royals are still likely to make a play for an outfielder, with Nori Aoki becoming a free agent. He could re-sign with Kansas City, and there’s a prevailing thought that the Royals may go after veteran Torii Hunter. Jon Heyman reports that Melky Cabrera (another former Royal, who received a QO from the Blue Jays) may also be a possibility.

– Joey Nowak

Mariners in play for top free agents

The Mariners last season were just a piece or two away from being a playoff team, and they’re reportedly trying to take that next step this winter.

According to a report from FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the M’s are “interested” in Hanley Ramirez, but Victor Martinez is their “priority.”

Both players have received qualifying offers (Ramirez from the Dodgers and Martinez from the Tigers) and are expected to decline by Monday’s deadline. The issue is that both players are likely to command deals north of $100 million and Rosenthal says Seattle may be unwilling to pay that kind of money.

Ramirez — whose days at shortstop may be numbered, regardless of where he lands — hit .283 with 13 homers and 71 RBIs for the Dodgers last year. Martinez was arguably the Tigers’ best hitter last season and would provide protection for Robinson Cano that he’s never had in the heart of the Mariners lineup.

The Mariners were 12th in the AL with a .376 slugging percentage last year, ahead of only Texas, Boston and Tampa Bay.

– Joey Nowak

Report: Liriano may accept Pirates’ QO

Since the current collective bargaining agreement went into effect three seasons ago, no free agent has accepted a qualifying offer from his previous club.

That may change this year, as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted Sunday afternoon that, according to sources, Francisco Liriano is still considering a qualifying offer from Pittsburgh among his free agency options.

On Nov. 3, the Pirates extended the one-year, $15.3 million offer to two of their free agents, Liriano and catcher Russell Martin, who is expected to decline his. The deadline to accept is 5 p.m. ET Monday.

Liriano has spent the last two seasons with the Pirates, earning a total of $9 million. He was 7-10 with with a 3.38 ERA though 29 starts in 2014.

– Chad Thornburg

Report: “Optimism” in SF that Sandoval will stay

With the deadline for free agents to reject or accept qualifying offers coming on Monday, opposing teams are reportedly close to writing off third baseman Pablo Sandoval signing elsewhere.

Buster Olney wrote in his ESPN Insider column Sunday that there is “optimism” in San Francisco that Sandoval will remain, though he’s already turned down the Giants’ $15.3 million qualifying offer and is reportedly seeking a six-year deal.

MLB.com‘s Chris Haft wrote this week that whether Sandoval re-signs in San Francisco “will shape the course of the club’s offseason.”

Sandoval was set to meet with the Red Sox at the General Managers meetings but Olney writes that other teams are getting the sense that Sandoval will stay with the Giants, and have begun exploring other options on the market.

In addition to the Giants and Red Sox, the Blue Jays and White Sox have also reportedly been interested in Sandoval.

– Joey Nowak

McCarthy waiting for chips to fall

Though right-hander Brandon McCarthy should get plenty of attention this winter, the free agent is reportedly waiting for other starters around him to sign before making any moves.

CBSSports.com‘s Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees — McCarthy’s club for the second half of the season — have engaged him in contract talks, but he’s inclined to sit back and wait for other free agents such as Jon Lester, James Shields and Max Scherzer to sign first. McCarthy will be highly sought-after, but as a middle-of-the-rotation kind of starter who will fit in behind those aforementioned aces.

McCarthy, 31, has pitched for three different clubs (Oakland, Arizona, New York) in the last three seasons. After a mediocre 2013 and first half of 2014 with the D-backs, he pitched extremely well for the Yankees in the second half of last year, going 7-5 with a 2.89 ERA.

– Joey Nowak

Pirates, Dodgers, Blue Jays among Martin suitors

As expected, the list of clubs with interest in free agent catcher Russell Martin is substantial. It’s been reported that the Cubs have met with Martin, and the Pirates, Dodgers and Blue Jays are also expected to do so.

It’s worth noting that Martin played the first five years of his career — from 2006-10 — with the Dodgers, twice being named an All-Star and winning a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in 2007. He’s played the last two seasons with the Pirates, and is a Canada native, so all three landing spots would make sense for the 31-year-old.

Martin hit .290 with 11 homers and 67 RBIs for the Pirates last year. Without him, the Bucs are looking at a catching corps of veteran backup Chris Stewart and youngster Tony Sanchez.

A.J. Ellis was the Dodgers’ everyday catcher last year (93 games), but he hit just .191 with three homers and 25 RBIs. Veteran Dioner Navarro caught 139 games for the Jays last year, and had more comparable numbers (.264 average with 12 homers and 69 RBIs) to what Martin could provide . The Jays are set to pay him $5 million next season.

– Joey Nowak

Report: Sandoval rejects Giants’ QO

It comes as really no surprise, but Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval has reportedly turned down San Francisco’s qualifying offer that was made official yesterday.

FOXSports.com‘s Ken Rosenthal tweeted the news Tuesday morning, which means Sandoval will hit the free agent market this winter. The Giants will receive a compensatory draft pick in the 2015 Draft if Sandoval signs with another club.

Sandoval is the first of the 12 players who received $15.3 million qualifying offers to turn it down. Most are expected to do so. The deadline to come to that decision is 5 p.m. ET on November 10.

– Joey Nowak

12 players receive qualifying offers

With the Monday afternoon deadline coming and going, 12 top free agents have received a $15.3 million qualifying offer.

They are: James Shields (Royals)Michael Cuddyer (Rockies), Max Scherzer and Victor Martinez (Tigers)Ervin Santana (Braves)Hanley Ramirez (Dodgers), Pablo Sandoval (Giants), Melky Cabrera (Blue Jays)Francisco Liriano and Russell Martin (Pirates), David Robertson (Yankees) and Nelson Cruz (Orioles).

Thirteen players received $14.1 million qualifying offers —  determined by the average annual salary of baseball’s top 125 contracts — last year, and none of them accepted. Cruz and Santana were both a part of that group, and neither signed until late in the offseason (Cruz on February 24 and Santana on March 12). It is expected that most — if not all — will reject the one-year contract, though Cuddyer, Liriano and Robertson are most likely to accept.

The aforementioned 12 players now have until 5 p.m. ET on November 10 to accept or decline the qualifying offer. If they sign with another club, the team that offered them the qualifying offer will receive a compensatory draft pick in the 2015 Draft.

– Joey Nowak

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