Daily Distractions: Let the free agency period begin.

Red Sox fans

Boston Red Sox fans celebrate the start of free agency Wednesday night. (Associated Press photo)

The World Series is over, making ringbearers of the Red Sox and free agents of dozens of players around baseball.

The Dodgers will have at least 10: Ricky Nolasco, Michael Young, Juan Uribe, Carlos Marmol, Jerry Hairston, Edinson Volquez, Skip Schumaker, Nick Punto, J.P. Howell and Brian Wilson. Per MLB rules, the Dodgers have exclusive negotiating rights with each player up until midnight Eastern Time Monday, after which all are free to sign with any club.

Sometime within the next five days, general manager Ned Colletti and staff must ultimately decide whether or not to extend these players a qualifying offer, a guaranteed contract for 2014 equal to the average salary of the highest-paid 125 players. This year, that’s $14.1 million.

The potential risk every team faces in extending a qualifying offer is that the player will accept the offer and receive more money than he would by testing the open market. The potential reward is twofold: 1, you might re-sign the player at a discount compared to his open-market value; 2, if the player doesn’t accept the qualifying offer and signs elsewhere, your team receives a first-round draft pick in 2014 from the team that does sign the player.

Of the Dodgers’ 10 free agents, Nolasco is the only viable candidate to receive a qualifying offer. He made $11.5 million last year. What’s another $2.6 million? That’s the, um, $2.6 million question that’s been floating around the front offices at Chavez Ravine this month. The answer should be an easy one: Since Nolasco didn’t begin the year with the Dodgers, they won’t receive any draft-pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.

More on him, and the other free agents, later today.

We should also note here that Chris Capuano and Mark Ellis have options for 2014 in their contracts. Capuano’s is a mutual option for $8 million with a $1 million buyout; Ellis’ is a $5.75 million club option with a $1 million buyout. If the team declines the option on both players, that’s a dirty dozen Dodgers destined to hit the free-agent market.

Some bullet points for an Allantide morning:
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Daily Distractions: Pressure on Dodgers mounting, and more Yasiel Puig.

Mark Ellis

Second baseman Mark Ellis stopped but couldn’t make an out on this ground ball during the Dodgers’ ninth-inning meltdown Monday. (Associated Press photo)

Matthew Kory, writing for SportsonEarth.com, makes a good point today: It’s hard to make sense of how pressure affects athletes. Specifically, in his piece, how the pressure of the Dodgers’ circumstances (expectations, payroll, proclamations from ownership) are affecting an underperforming team.

Most athletes get questions about pressure from us media types. Most say “there is pressure in every situation,” or some variation thereof, but we don’t know exactly how each player perceives the pressure in a situation. It’s foolish to assume that all athletes have the same perception of the pressure facing them or their team.

All we really know is that these guys are better than most of us at handling pressure. Even Brandon League was remarkably calm after getting pulled in the ninth inning yesterday, and remarkably calm again while talking to reporters less than an hour later. In between, he could have been exerting his emotions on any number of inanimate objects. I still maintain that his composure in the critical situations was impressive, even if his command of belt-high sinkers to Gerardo Parra and Martin Prado was not.

But the pressure is mounting.

After yesterday’s game, I asked Don Mattingly where the tipping point is — when a pitcher who’s blown four saves can no longer be trusted to save another.

“I’m not sitting here trying to defend Brandon at this point,” Mattingly said. “For the most part, Brandon has been saving games.”

Seems like it’s getting harder to defend a lot of things around this team, and that’s a consequence of pressure.

Onto the bullet points:

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Daily Distractions: Let #Puigapalooza begin.

Yasiel Puig has arrived, literally:

I wrote last night about what it really means for Puig and for the Dodgers; in short, it means that the plan changed. The Dodgers didn’t plan on having Puig in the majors this soon. Maybe Puig isn’t here if Carl Crawford, the Dodgers’ only outfielder who presents a stolen base threat, is healthy. Power-hitting Alex Castellanos is in Triple-A and he’s the only logical alternative — in fact, he’s the only other natural outfielder on the 40-man roster available for recall.

Puig was hitting well in Double-A Chattanooga, but will he still be as rough around the edges as he was in spring training? Should be fun to find out.

Some bullet points for an Opium Suppression Movement day:
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