Bopara signed a new two-year deal with Essex in December
Ravi Bopara will start the season with Essex after being overlooked in the Indian Premier League auction.
Had he joined an IPL side, all-rounder Bopara, 25, would have missed the first seven weeks of the domestic season.
Head coach Paul Grayson told BBC Essex: "I'm a little bit surprised Ravi didn't get a deal, but that's life and I think it's a good thing for us."
Fellow all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate and batsman Owais Shah were signed to Kolkata and Kochi respectively.
Grayson believes Bopara, who has 10 England Test caps to his name, now has an opportunity to get back into the national fold.
"With Eoin Morgan away playing in the IPL and the retirement of Paul Collingwood, Ravi can really stake a claim by scoring loads of runs and taking wickets for us, and we can hopefully help him get back his England Test spot," Grayson added.
Doeschate, who was bought for $150,000 US (£96,600), will become the first Dutchman to play in the IPL, while former England batsman Shah was paid $200,000 (£128,800) for his services.
Essex will receive compensation for their absence and Grayson will use the money to bring in reinforcements.
"Hopefully that can go towards another player, a loan player, or perhaps bringing an overseas player in for the second half of the season, if not for the start of the year," Grayson continued.
"We're not sure how much it's going to be, but we'll be having a meeting next week to decide whether we need to bring somebody in early season and whether it's a batsman or a bowler."
Meanwhile, all-rounder Graham Napier also missed out on an IPL club.
The 31-year-old played just four County Championship matches last season after suffering from a stress fracture in his back.