CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Indians did not make qualifying offers to free agents Mike Napoli or Rajai Davis, two players who helped get them to the World Series.
The AL champions had until 5 p.m. Monday to make the $17.2 million offers, which would have guaranteed them compensatory draft picks if the players sign with other teams.
Even though qualifying offers weren’t extended, Indians president Chris Antonetti said the team has strong interest in re-signing Napoli and Davis. The Indians would have had exclusive negotiating rights with them, but now they can talk with other clubs.
Napoli and Davis both revived their careers in first seasons with Cleveland.
The 34-year-old Napoli set career highs in homers (34), RBIs (101) and strikeouts (194).
The first baseman/designated hitter struggled in the postseason, batting just .173 with one homer. But Antonetti said that wouldn’t outweigh Napoli’s contributions on the field as well as in the clubhouse as Cleveland won its first division title since 2007 and made the Series for the first time since 1997.
Like Napoli, Davis had a productive first season with the Indians. The 35-year-old led the AL with 43 steals and helped solidify the outfield when All-Star Michael Brantley wasn’t able to come back from shoulder surgery.
Davis also struggled in the playoffs, but he provided a magical moment in Game 7 of the Series. Davis connected on a two-run homer in the eighth inning off Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman to tie it 6 before the Indians lost 8-7 in 10 innings, preventing Cleveland from winning its first title since 1948.
The Indians also chose not to pick up outfielder Coco Crisp’s $13 million option for next season.