Thirteen players will “definitely” receive a qualifying offer, speculates Mike Axisa of CBS Sports. All told, 50 players are eligible for the qualifying offer (pending a couple expected opt-outs). Axisa believes 20 free agents are likely to be extended an offer, although he believes the case for seven of those players is less than certain. With the value of a qualifying offer now set at $15.8MM, we have a better idea of what clubs must risk in order to gain a compensation pick.
If all 20 of Axisa’s picks were to receive an offer, it would set a new record (previous high: 13 players in 2013). Overall, 34 players have received a qualifying offer in past offseasons. All 34 have rejected it – a sign that clubs are conservative with the offer. Here’s more from Axisa:
- Interestingly, Axisa counts Orioles catcher Matt Wieters among the locks to receive an offer. However, we learned earlier today that the club may prefer to allocate that money elsewhere – if they believe he might accept the offer. To me, there does seem to be a real chance that Wieters would choose to remain with Baltimore for one more season. Camden Yards is one of the best ballparks for a switch-hitter to improve his value.
- Of Axisa’s seven players “likely” to receive an offer, Ian Desmond strikes me as a near guarantee. While he had a disappointing 2015 season, his track record should easily support a sizable multi-year offer. I could see him accepting the offer only if he knows an injury has permanently reduced his skill set. Similarly, medical information may be the only cause for the Nationals to pass on issuing an offer.
- Axisa also reminds us of the 14 players who are no longer eligible for a qualifying offer because they were traded mid-season. The biggest names include David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, and Johnny Cueto. Scott Kazmir and Ben Zobrist were also near-locks for an offer while Gerardo Parra may have played his way into consideration. It’s all moot now.
- Twelve players have options that are likely to be exercised. Of those, I see Nori Aoki, Joaquin Benoit, and David Murphy as the hardest decisions. All three are team options. As a soon-to-be 34-year-old platoon outfielder, Murphy’s case is easily the most difficult. He’s posted 0.1 fWAR over the last three seasons (1,329 plate appearances) and will be owed $7MM. It’s been speculated that the Angels were at least open to keeping him, but that was before they hired new GM Billy Eppler. Yesterday, we heard the club may prefer to use that money on a “more impactful bat.”