In theory, sure. But isn’t this exact scenario happening right now with Bogaerts? The team and its fans don’t seem more than happy to walk away at all.
I hate to re-litigate the whole opt out debate again, but I think people who say that opt outs can be good for the team mostly mean something like "opt outs can work out in the team's favor."
The Bogaerts situation can't really be analyzed along this line yet because we don't know what's going to happen. At the moment the opt out is available to be exercised, the value is clearly in the hands of the player. The team now has to make a decision to commit more resources to the player or let him go, which as we are seeing now is often a difficult decision. At this moment in time it's always going to look like a disadvantage to the team. And it is
a disadvantage, but it can work out to the team's benefit.
Consider a spectrum of career trajectories with Big Papi on one end of the spectrum (basically excellent output from the day he broke out to the day he retried, barring a few blips) and Carl Crawford (superstar player that turned into a pumpkin basically overnight at a surprisingly young age). At the moment an opt out is exercised, we don't know what track the rest of the player's career will take, and who actually benefits from the opt out depends on a combination of the market and the future production of the player.
Let's look at the following scenarios, comparing an opt out to a contract without an opt out:
- Player performs at or above the level of their contract up to the opt out, and continues to perform after the opt out
- Player performs at or above the level of their contract up to the opt out, but falls off significantly after the opt out
- Player performs under their contract up to the opt out (or suffers a clearly debilitating injury before the opt out)
In scenario 1, the opt out hurts the team as they have either lost the services of a player that continues to perform or they are forced to increase the value of the contract in order to retain those services.
In scenario 2, the opt out has helped the team if they didn't resign the player, as they have managed to extract significant value in the early phase of the contract and aren't left holding the bag later. If the team resigned the player for a higher value, then the opt out has hurt the team.
In scenario 3, the opt out is neutral when compared to a contract without an opt out. Either way the team is stuck holding the bag.
Unfortunately I think there are a lot more Carl Crawfords in baseball than there are Big Papis, and I expect scenario 2 will come up more often that one might expect. Is the opt out good for the player? Yes. Is the opt out stressful for the team and the fan base? Yes. Can it work out in the team's favor? Also yes.