NEW YORK — With the World Series over, baseball’s business season began Thursday as the Kansas City Royals exercised their option on pitcher James Shields and the Cleveland Indians jettisoned closer Chris Perez.
There were 147 players who became free agents, a group that includes second baseman Robinson Cano; outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo and Curtis Granderson; catcher Brian McCann; and pitchers Roy Halladay, Tim Hudson, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Fernando Rodney.
About 30 additional players are eligible to go free in coming days if their 2014 options aren’t exercised. Among that group is Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who has a $9.5 million player option.
Teams then have until Monday to make $14.1 million qualifying offers to eligible free agents who were on their rosters when the season began. If a player accepts, he is signed for 2014; if he declines and signs elsewhere, his former team gets amateur draft pick compensation for next June’s draft.
The Seattle Mariners announced five players have officially become free agents: outfielder Endy Chavez, outfielder/designated hitter Raul Ibanez, designated hitter Kendrys Morales, left-handed pitcher Oliver Perez and catcher Humberto Quintero.
The Mariners’ 40-man roster is now at 35 players with right-handed pitcher Stephen Pryor still on the 60-day disabled list. Pryor will need to be put back on the 40-man roster by Monday.
Shields ($13.5 million) and Chicago White Sox reliever Matt Lindstrom ($4 million) had their options exercised Thursday, preventing them from becoming free agents.
Acquired last offseason from Tampa Bay, Shields went 13-9 with a 3.15 ERA and an AL-leading 228 2-3 innings.
“I feel good about it. I feel like I pitched well for them last year,” Shields said. “I’m just excited to be back and be a Royal and have a good season next year.”
Among the players whose options were declined were Cardinals pitcher Jake Westbrook ($1 million buyout instead of $9.5 million salary); Texas first baseman-designated hitter Lance Berkman ($1 million instead of $12 million); Dodgers left-hander Chris Capuano ($1 million instead of $8 million) and second baseman Mark Ellis ($1 million instead of $5.25 million); and Colorado reliever Rafael Betancourt ($250,000 instead of $4.25 million).
Cleveland’s Jason Giambi went free, then agreed to a minor league contract with the Indians.
Perez, a two-time All-Star, would have been eligible for salary arbitration.
He spent five seasons with the Indians and while he saved 124 games, Perez often was at the center of turmoil that overshadowed his pitching. He angered Indians fans last season for saying they didn’t support the team like they should, and he rankled Cleveland’s front office by criticizing trades and stating the Indians weren’t spending enough to win.
A-Rod battling MLB
NEW YORK — With the World Series over, Alex Rodriguez resumed his criticism of Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig for its investigation that led to a 211-game suspension that the New York Yankees third baseman is trying to overturn.
In addition to a grievance filed by the players’ union, Rodriguez filed a lawsuit against Selig and MLB that accused them of engaging in a “witch hunt.”
“I am deeply troubled by my team’s investigative findings with respect to MLB’s conduct,” Rodriguez said in a statement Thursday. “How can the gross, ongoing misconduct of the MLB investigations division not be relevant to my suspension, when my suspension supposedly results directly from that division’s work?”
Nationals hire manager
WASHINGTON — Former major league third baseman Matt Williams is the new manager of the Washington Nationals.
The Nationals will hold a news conference today to introduce Williams as the team’s fifth manager since it moved to Washington from Montreal in 2005. He replaces Davey Johnson, who is retiring.
It is Williams’ first job as a major league manager. He has only brief managerial experience at any level, having spent time in the Arizona Fall League and five weeks at Double-A in the minors.
He’s been the Arizona Diamondbacks third-base coach the past three seasons.
The 47-year-old Williams was a five-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove recipient during 17 years as a player for the Giants, Indians and Diamondbacks.
Indians, Padres trade
SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres have traded left-hander Colt Hynes to the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations.
Hynes had been designated for assignment by the club Oct. 26.
The 28-year-old Hynes, a 31st-round pick by the Padres in the 2007 amateur draft out of Texas Tech, split his time between the Padres, Triple-A Tucson and Double-A San Antonio last season. He allowed 17 earned runs in 17 innings spanning 22 appearances in the majors for a 9.00 ERA, with 13 strikeouts. He posted a 1.52 ERA with 58 strikeouts in 41 combined appearances with San Antonio and Tucson.
San Diego’s 40-man roster stands at 40.