It used to be that a no-trade clause was the sexiest thing a player could have worked into his contract. In addition to making millions of dollars, a player would be assured that it would be highly unlikely that their life would be uprooted and shipped to another city along with his bat and glove. Times have changed. Now all the cool kids are getting opt-out clauses in their contracts, and you're left standing in the corner with your no-trade clause and Tamagotchi pet. It's hard to keep up with trends, isn't it?
Eight free agents have been given nine opt-out clauses so far this winter, with one more possibly heading Dexter Fowler's way. Opt-outs are the new vogue of free agency because they're a way of giving the players value (the opportunity to secure better contracts) that doesn't come in the form of dollars. However, opt-outs can also benefit the team beyond possible monetary savings during the signing of the contract. If a player is very good at baseball for a few years and decides to opt out, a team can theoretically be saved from having dead weight on the roster when that player ages and breaks down with injuries. It's an attempt at managing risk that can backfire if the player is unexpectedly bad before the opt-out clause can be activated or simply gets hurt. Barring a radical shift in ownership philosophy, it's likely that opt-outs will be prominent components of major free agent contracts for the foreseeable future. Here is every free agent given an opt-out clause so far this winter, along with the general terms of their contract.
- David Price: $217 milliion, 7 years, opt-out after 3rd year
- Jason Heyward: $184 million, 8 years, opt-outs after 3rd and 4th years
- Johnny Cueto: $130 million, 6 years, opt-out after 2nd year
- Justin Upton: #132.75 million, 6 years, opt-out after 2nd year
- Wei-Yin Chen: $80 million, 5 years, opt-out after 2nd year
- Ian Kennedy: $70 million, 5 years, opt-out after 2nd year
- Yoenis Cespedes: $75 million, 3 years, opt-out after 1st year
- Scott Kazmir: $48 million, 3 years, opt-out after 1st year