This offseason, there are 46 players with either club or mutual options. The White Sox are at the center of the option frenzy, as they have the most players (five) with options, as well as the most money ($62.5 million) on which to make decisions. With the option decisions due soon after the conclusion of the World Series, Chicago has some big decisions to make awfully quickly.
Option decisions can be complex because they can amount to little more than a guessing game. Not necessarily in terms of the value the team believes a player will deliver -- though there is some of that -- but rather what the value of a win will be on the free-agent market. We generally think of a win purchased on the free agent market as valued somewhere between $4 and $6 million, but this week, Cleveland Indians president Mark Shapiro said that he believes a win on the free-agent market costs $9 million.
That seems aggressive, but with new television contracts -- both on a local and national level -- potentially flooding the free agent landscape with money, it is certainly reasonable to forecast that the price of free agents will go up this winter. Viewed in that light, perhaps some of the club options the White Sox hold aren't as weighty as they would appear. Either way, the decisions are not necessarily easy.