The impact of the qualifying offer remains a hot topic around baseball, and it’s hard to deny the effects on several veterans this winter. In many ways, the biggest difficulty faced may not just be a pure reduction in price, but the alteration of the market development for players saddled with draft pick compensation.
Ultimately, there were bargains to be found late in the winter. That’s exemplified, perhaps, by the experiences of the last three QO-bound position players to sign this offseason: Howie Kendrick, Dexter Fowler, and Ian Desmond. All had reasonable expectations of significant, multi-year deals, but it did not work out that way in practice.
Kendrick ultimately went back to the Dodgers for two years and $20MM. He was something of a luxury for a club that already had numerous options installed in the infield, but space was created when the price dropped.
At one point, Fowler seemed ticketed for the Orioles on a three-year pact, but ultimately returned to the Cubs on a $13MM guarantee. As with Kendrick, Fowler was an opportunistic re-addition for the team that had originally extended him the qualifying offer.
As for Desmond, things shaped up in an even more curious way. He sat back as players with lesser recent stat lines, such as Alexei Ramirez and Asdrubal Cabrera, inked deals with clubs willing to install them as regular shortstops. Desmond ultimately settled for just $8MM on a one-year term to play the outfield for the Rangers.
Texas also gave up the 19th overall draft pick in the Desmond transaction. Los Angeles and Chicago, meanwhile, sacrificed the ability to obtain compensation. Of course, all of those teams will have a chance to cash in an additional draft choice if they extend qualifying offers to these players when their deals expire.
So, we’ll pose the following question to MLBTR’s readers: which of these deals represents the best late-breaking investment for these teams?