Major League teams had until 5pm ET today to extend qualifying offers to their impending free agents — a decision that could significantly impact the market for a number of players this winter. For those unfamiliar with the process, the collective bargaining agreement stipulates that teams can make a “qualifying offer” to free agents that spent the entire season on the roster — midseason trades and signings are ineligible — if they wish to secure draft pick compensation for the loss of that player. The QO is a set one-year value determined by averaging the salaries of the top 125 players in the league. This year, the value of that sum comes to $17.2MM.
A player will have one week to survey the market and determine whether he wishes to accept the QO or reject in search of a more lucrative free-agent deal. If a player accepts the offer — something that has happened only three times since the system’s implementation in 2012 (Matt Wieters, Colby Rasmus and Brett Anderson) — that player is considered signed for the following season at $17.2MM. The contract is considered a free-agent deal, and as such, that player is not allowed to be traded without his consent until June 15.
If the player rejects a QO, he’s free to sign with any team for any amount (including the team from which he rejected the QO). However, whichever team signs a player that has rejected a QO must surrender its top unprotected pick in the upcoming draft (unless the player re-signs with the team that made the QO). The first 10 selections are protected, so those clubs would only be required to part with their second-highest pick. A team that signs multiple players that have rejected a QO continues to forfeit its top unprotected pick for each subsequent signing. The team that lost the free agent in question, meanwhile, will receive a compensatory draft pick at the end of the first round. The order of comp picks, like the draft order itself, is determined based upon the previous year’s standings.
Last year there were a record 20 players to receive QOs (valued at $15.8MM based on 2015 salaries). There should be fewer this year, given the weak free-agent market, but there should still be a double-digit total of QOs extended. Here’s a list of who will reportedly receive qualifying offers thus far, and we’ll update this throughout the day and include the full list when the 5:00pm deadline has passed:
- Mark Trumbo, Orioles (link)
- Jeremy Hellickson, Phillies (link)
- Yoenis Cespedes, Mets (link)
- Neil Walker, Mets (link)
- Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays (link)
- Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (link)
- Ian Desmond, Rangers (link)
- Dexter Fowler, Cubs (link)
- Kenley Jansen, Dodgers (link)
- Justin Turner, Dodgers (link)
For a more in-depth explanation of the qualifying offer system, you can reference back to our post Explaining The Qualifying Offer System from last October. In the past, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes has also spoken to both agents and general managers about the importance of avoiding the qualifying offer and the impact it has on teams’ decisions. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd, meanwhile, penned a pair of insightful posts in an effort to contextualize and assess the QO system and its purposes on the heels of the 2013-14 offseason.