Red Sox pass on qualifying offer for Moreland

Boston could still re-sign first baseman, Nunez, Reed for 2018

Red Sox pass on qualifying offer for Moreland

BOSTON -- The Red Sox declined to make a $17.4-million qualifying offer to Mitch Moreland, their starting first baseman in 2017.

Moreland was the only key contributor from Boston's 2017 team eligible to receive a qualifying offer, and he is now a free agent. He earned $5.5 million this past season, so it's hardly surprising he wasn't extended a qualifying offer.

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Infielder Eduardo Nunez and setup man Addison Reed -- who are also free agents -- weren't eligible for qualifying offers because they were traded to the Red Sox in the middle of the 2017 season.

It's still possible the Red Sox could re-sign Moreland, Nunez or Reed. In particular, Nunez could be a good fit considering that Dustin Pedroia will miss the first couple of months of the season following left knee surgery.

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The Red Sox are also expected to be aggressive in pursuing other team's free agents, and the market is now officially open for business.

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A year ago, Boston didn't negotiate in high-stakes free agency because there was a mandate from ownership to stay below the luxury-tax threshold. However, owner John Henry and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski confirmed Monday that staying under the threshold -- which will be $197 million in 2018 -- is not a requirement.

This could open the Red Sox up to be players for a key free agent to lift the offense. Outfielder J.D. Martinez and first baseman Eric Hosmer are two names to keep an eye on in the coming weeks. Because Martinez was traded to Arizona in the middle of the 2017 season, the Red Sox could sign him without having to give up a compensatory Draft pick.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.