Teams have until 5pm ET tonight to issue one-year, $17.4MM qualifying offers to their impending free agents if they wish to recoup draft pick compensation in the event that their free agent(s) depart and sign elsewhere. Those unfamiliar with the process can refer back to a lengthy exploration of the QO system (penned by MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk), which was revamped last winter in the 2017-21 collective bargaining agreement.
For those looking for a Cliff’s Notes-esque refresher, here’s the QO system in a few sentences. MLB teams can issue a one-year offer worth the mean salary of the league’s 125 highest-paid players to an impending free agent in order to receive compensation in the next year’s draft. A player can receive a qualifying offer only once in his career and is eligible to receive a QO if and only if he spent the entire season with his club. Players that accept a QO are considered signed and cannot be traded until June 15 of the upcoming season. Players have 10 days to decide whether to accept or reject.
The new CBA places the standard compensatory pick after Competitive Balance Round B — meaning it should fall somewhere between picks 70 to 80. Elements like revenue sharing, luxury tax penalization and size of the player’s new contract can all impact the placement of the comp pick, however. Teams that sign a player who rejected a QO will be required to forfeit at least one pick in the next year’s draft. Each team’s top pick is protected, but the placement of forfeited pick(s) is dependent on the luxury tax and revenue sharing. International pool money may also need to be forfeited. (Again, I’d highly recommend checking out Mark’s piece, in full, for more details.)
Here are today’s rumors…
- MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian calls it a “safe bet” that the Indians will issue a qualifying offer to first baseman Carlos Santana (Twitter link). The 31-year-old switch-hitter batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and career-best work at first base in 2017. While the market for corner bats hasn’t been great in recent years, Santana’s defensive improvements, power and longstanding reputation as one of baseball’s most patient hitters (career 15.2 percent walk rate) should serve him well on the open market even with draft-pick compensation attached to his name.
- Reds shortstop Zack Cozart is still unlikely to receive a qualifying offer, per FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter links). That’s been the direction in which Cincinnati has reportedly been leaning for the past couple of weeks, though MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon hears that the Reds are still debating the QO for Cozart. Despite the Reds’ rebuilding status, it still seems surprising that they could let him walk for no compensation. Cozart had a breakout .297/.385/.548 season at the plate in 2017 and even in the two years prior was a roughly league-average bat with well-above average defense at shortstop. He should be able to top $17.4MM by a wide margin in free agency, and even if he accepts, he’d be a bargain at that rate. The Reds do already have $86MM worth of payroll commitments and arbitration projections for next season, but there are other areas (non-tenders, trades) that they could trim from the payroll if need be..
- Some players — Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Lance Lynn — have long seemed like locks to receive a QO. Alex Cobb, too, has stood out as a logical recipient, though the Rays’ payroll limitations at least cast some doubt on that possibility. Heyman reported last night that Cobb would receive a QO, and it’s been reported by multiple outlets that each member of that Royals trio will receive a QO as well.