Major League teams have been informed that the 2017-18 qualifying offer will be in the range of $18MM, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter). More specifically, Olney notes that the exact value could end up being $18.1MM.
That figure would represent a $900K spike from last year’s $17.2MM qualifying offer value and, paired with changes to the qualifying offer system, would make it more difficult to extend such an offer to borderline free agents. The QO is calculated each year by determining the mean salary of the league’s top 125 players.
Under the 2012-16 collective bargaining agreement, any player who rejects a qualifying offer would then cost a new team its top unprotected draft pick upon signing. (The first 10 selections of the draft were protected on a yearly basis.) The team that lost the free agent would then receive a compensatory pick immediately following the first round.
The QO system has changed under the 2017-21 CBA, however, as the new default rule calls for the compensatory pick to land after the completion of Competitive Balance Round B. However, there are two exemptions to the rule:
- If the team that lost said free agent paid the luxury tax in the preceding season, its compensation pick would fall in the after the completion of the draft’s fourth round.
- Conversely, if the team that lost said free agent received revenue sharing in the preceding season and saw the free agent sign a contract worth a guaranteed $50MM or more, the compensation pick would be moved to the end of the first round.
The penalties that a club pays upon signing a player that rejected a QO have changed as well:
- Any team that paid the luxury tax in the preceding season will forfeit its second- and fifth-highest draft selections in next year’s draft as well as $1MM of its international bonus pool in the upcoming period.
- A team that did not exceed the luxury tax threshold but contributes to revenue sharing would forfeit its second-highesr draft pick as well as $500K of its upcoming international bonus pool.
- A team that didn’t exceed the luxury tax and also received revenue sharing in the preceding season would forfeit only its third-highest pick in the next year’s draft.
The newly bargained agreement also stipulates that a player may receive a qualifying offer once and only once in his career, so any player that has previously received the QO is exempt, regardless of whether he accepted or rejected his first QO. Players that were traded or signed midseason also remain exempt from receiving a qualifying offer.
The increasing size of the qualifying offer will likely further limit the number of players that receive such an offer this winter, though there are certainly still a number of candidates. Yu Darvish is the easiest call among impending free agents (assuming he isn’t traded), while others such as Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Greg Holland all stand out as logical candidates (once Holland turns down his $15MM player option). Depending on the way in which their season finishes, players like Masahiro Tanaka and Jay Bruce could also emerge as considerations (though Bruce could well be traded, thus negating the issue).