Opt Out Clauses Are Here to Stay
You probably knew that already. However today’s signing of Wei-Yin Chen by the Marlins for five years and $80 million, with Chen having the ability to opt out after two seasons at a total of $28M into the deal, represents something new. As far as I am aware, this is the first time that someone who cannot be considered an elite free agent has received an opt-out clause.
No doubt that Chen is a valuable major league starter. However, mlbtraderumors.com ranked him as only the seventh best free agent starter (although his contract is roughly equal to Mike Leake‘s — Leake gets a no-trade clause while Chen gets the opt-out for the same years and guarantee — so it’s fair to call Chen a tie for sixth) means that a broader class of free agents will be getting opt-out clauses in the future.
The deal makes complete sense for the Marlins. A no-trade clause is worth more to them than an opt-out, because if things go bad for the team, they will dump contracts like Chen’s, while if Chen performs well enough to exercise the opt-out, it’s highly unlikely the Fish will re-sign him going into his age 32 season unless they are threatening to or have already won their division, and the Fish will already have received two years at what is now a bargain price of $28 million for a potential No. 2 starter.
All things being equal, meaning not taking into account everything I have not taken into account, I think I’d rather have Chen, at least for the next two seasons, than Leake. Chen’s career ratios are definitely better.