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MLB: Odorizzi, Abreu accept $17.8M offers to stay with teams

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Pitcher Jake Odorizzi accepted a $17.8 million qualifying offer to stay with the Minnesota Twins and first baseman José Abreu took the same amount to remain with the Chicago White Sox as general managers headed home Thursday following their four-day annual meeting.

Using the threat to accept San Francisco’s offer as leverage, reliever Will Smith became the first of the 168 free agents to switch teams, agreeing to a $40 million, three-year contract with the Atlanta Braves.

Just 10 free agents received the offers on Nov. 4, and their former teams will receive draft-pick compensation if they sign elsewhere before the amateur draft in June. Players who did not accept included pitchers Gerrit Cole (Houston), Stephen Strasburg (Washington), Zack Wheeler (New York Mets) and Madison Bumgarner (San Francisco) along with third basemen Anthony Rendon (Washington) and Josh Donaldson (Atlanta) and outfielder Marcell Ozuna (St. Louis).

Qualifying offers began after the 2012 season, and only eight of 90 offers have been accepted. The others were Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters, Houston outfielder Colby Rasmus and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brett Anderson after the 2015 season; New York Mets second baseman Neil Walker and Philadelphia pitcher Jeremy Hellickson following the 2016 season; and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu last offseason.

Odorizzi, a right-hander who turns 30 in March, was a career-best 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA for the AL Central champions, striking out 178 in 159 innings. He can become a free agent again after the 2020 season, when there will be no loss of draft picks attached and fewer high-level starting pitchers competing for attention.

Abreu hit .284 with 33 homers and his 123 RBIs were second to Rendon’s major league-best 126. He turns 33 in January, and the one-year deal could be a precursor to a multiyear contract with the White Sox.

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