The deadline for players to extend qualifying offers to their free agents is 5pm ET today. The value of this year’s qualifying offer — which is equated by taking the average salary of the game’s 125 highest-paid players — is $15.8MM. Teams can extend the QO to free agents who spent the entire year with that club (i.e. were not midseason signings/trade acquisitions), giving the player one week to accept or decline the deal. Should the player accept — and to this point, no one has ever accepted a QO — he is immediately under contract for the following season at that $15.8MM salary and cannot be traded without his consent until the following June. If a player rejects and signs with a new club, his former team is awarded a compensatory draft pick at the end of the first round the following year. Any team that signs a player that has rejected a QO must forfeit its top unprotected draft pick. (The top 10 picks in next year’s draft are protected under the collective bargaining agreement.) Those wishing to drill down deeper into the specifics of the qualifying offer can check out MLBTR’s full explanation of the qualifying offer system.
The previous one-year record for number of player to receive a QO is 13, but with a deep crop of free-agent talent this offseason, a new record will absolutely be set. I see as many as 22 realistic QO candidates in this year’s free agent class, though some of those are admittedly borderline calls whose teams may decide not to make the risk. To this point, the Royals have already made the obvious decision to extend a QO to Alex Gordon (as they announced yesterday). That was the lone formal announcement prior to Friday.
All that said, here’s the list of formal qualifying offers to be extended (we’ll update accordingly throughout the day)…
- The Orioles announced that they’ve issued qualifying offers to first baseman Chris Davis, lefty Wei-Yin Chen, and catcher Matt Wieters. Though reports at times questioned whether Baltimore would extend the $15.8MM offer to Wieters, it always seemed a near-lock that that the team would do so (with expectations that he’ll reject it and look for multiple years in free agency).
- The White Sox have officially announced their qualifying offer to Jeff Samardzija, which was essentially a foregone conclusion. It’s been known that Samardzija will receive a qualifying offer and widely reported that he will reject said offer for quite some time.
- Hisashi Iwakuma (Mariners), Dexter Fowler (Cubs) and Daniel Murphy (Mets) will all receive qualifying offers, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Each of the moves was widely expected, although Heyman also hears that the Padres have made up their mind and will make a qualifying offer to Ian Kennedy. That situation was a bit more up in the air, though Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune said two nights ago that it was a “likely” outcome, and we at MLBTR have voiced the belief that the Padres should and would make the QO on multiple occasions.
- The Blue Jays have now announced that Marco Estrada will receive a qualifying offer on the strength of his impressive 2015 regular season and playoff performance. (A full breakdown of Estrada’s qualifying offer can be read here.)
- The Cardinals announced that they have extended the qualifying offer to both Jason Heyward and John Lackey. Each decision was widely anticipated, as they 26-year-old Heyward is poised to cash in on an enormous contract due to his youth, defensive prowess and solid contributions at the plate and on the bases. Lackey recently turned 37, but he’s completely rejuvenated his career over the past three seasons and is well-positioned to land a sizable multi-year deal this winter even with draft pick compensation attached to his name
- As noted above, the Royals announced their qualifying offer to Alex Gordon on Thursday afternoon.