Rizzo, Bassitt turn down options, among 11 now free agents

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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LAS VEGAS — First baseman Anthony Rizzo became a free agent again when he declined his $16 million option with the New York Yankees for 2023.

Pitcher Chris Bassitt declined his $19 million option with the New York Mets and followed rotation mates Jacob deGrom and Taijuan Walker into free agency.

They were among 11 players who became free agents Tuesday, raising the total to 151. About 32 more players are potentially eligible to go free by Thursday, joining a free agent class headed by Aaron Judge, Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson, deGrom, Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts.

Acquired from the Chicago Cubs at the 2021 trade deadline, Rizzo went free after the 2021 season and stayed with the Yankees for a deal that paid $16 million this year.

He hit 32 home runs for the fourth time in his career – he’s never hit more – and had 75 RBIs in 130 games despite a .224 batting average. The 33-year-old was sidelined between Aug. 31 and Sept. 18 by back pain and headaches from an epidural injection to treat his back.

Rizzo’s home runs were 40% of the Yankees’ 77 by left-handed batters and his RBIs were 37% of the 202 by New York’s lefties.

Bassitt gets a $150,000 buyout, completing a one-year deal for $8.8 million. The 33-year-old righty went 15-9 with a 3.42 ERA in 30 starts after the Mets acquired him from Oakland at the end of the lockout.

Milwaukee exercised a $10 million option on Kolten Wong, preventing the second baseman from becoming a free agent.

San Diego declined a $20 million option on 31-year-old outfielder and first baseman Wil Myers, who gets a $1 million buyout that completes an $83 million, six-year contract. He hit .261 with seven homers and 41 RBIs.

Colorado turned down an $8 million team option on reliever Scott Oberg, who has not pitched since 2019 due to blood clots in his arms. Oberg completed a $13 million, three-year contract.

Left-hander Andrew Chafin turned down a $6.5 million option with Detroit, making his deal worth $6.5 million for one season. He went 2-3 with a 2.83 ERA in 64 relief appearances.

NL champion Philadelphia declined a $17 million option on second baseman Jean Segura, who gets a $1 million buyout that finishes a $70 million, five-year deal. Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin turned down a $15 million mutual option for a $150,000 buyout, completing a $5.7 million, one-year contract.

Minnesota declined options on right-handers Chris Archer ($10 million) and Dylan Bundy ($11 million) and first baseman Miguel Sano ($14 million) in favor of buyouts of $750,000 for Archer, $1 million for Bundy and $2.75 million for Sano, who finished a $30 million, three-year contract.

Infielder Josh Harrison‘s $5,625,000 option was declined by the Chicago White Sox in favor of a $1.5 million buyout.

Phillies select active duty Navy aviator in MLB Rule 5 draft

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SAN DIEGO — The Philadelphia Phillies took U.S. Navy aviator Noah Song in the Rule 5 draft Wednesday, hoping the former top pitching prospect can still be effective once he completes his military service.

There is no definitive date on when the 25-year-old Song might be able to join the Phillies.

Song was picked from the Boston Red Sox system in the draft for unprotected minor league players. Philadelphia put him on the military list while he continues his active duty and he won’t count on the 40-man roster, the pool from which major league teams can select players for the 26-man active roster.

Song impressed in his only pro season, making seven starts for Boston’s Class A Lowell affiliate in 2019, with a 1.06 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 17 innings. With a fastball clocked in the upper 90s mph, the right-hander dominated that year as a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy, going 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 94 innings.

The Red Sox drafted Song in the fourth round – he likely would’ve gone much higher, but his impending military service caused teams to back off.

In November 2019, Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed a memo clearing the way for athletes at the nation’s military academies to delay their service commitments and play pro sports after graduation. Song’s request to have those new rules retroactively applied to his case was denied.

Song began school as a flight officer in the summer of 2020 and finished that phase last April. He started additional aviation training in May.

Song was among the 15 players, including three Boston pitchers, taken in the big league phase of the Rule 5 draft, which wasn’t held last year because of the MLB lockout.

Washington took righty Thad Ward from Boston’s Triple-A roster with the first pick. Baltimore took Red Sox minor league pitcher Andrew Politi with the ninth choice and the Phillies chose Song with the 11th selection.

Teams pay $100,000 to take players in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. The players must stay on the big league roster next season or go on waivers and, if unclaimed, be offered back to their original organization for $50,000.