The qualifying offer value for the upcoming offseason has been set at $17.9MM, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). That value, which is determined by taking the average of the game’s 125 highest-paid players, represents a $500K increase from last offseason’s mark of $17.4MM.
Any team wishing to receive draft compensation for the loss of a free agent will first have to make that free agent a one-year offer worth that $17.9MM value. Qualifying offer recipients will have 10 days to decide whether to accept or reject the offer and are free to talk with other clubs during that window as they get an early sense of their market value. If a player accepts, he is considered signed for the 2019 season at that rate. Like other free-agent signings, that player would be ineligible to be traded, without his consent, prior to June 15 of the following season.
Only players who spent the entire 2018 season with the same organization are eligible to receive a qualifying offer; midseason trade acquisitions and signings cannot receive one. Additionally, the 2017-21 collective bargaining agreement also added the stipulation that players can only receive one qualifying offer in their career. That distinction primarily impacts Nelson Cruz, as the rest of the players who have received previous qualifying offers have either already been traded (e.g. Daniel Murphy) or haven’t performed well enough to be a candidate for a second qualifying offer anyhow (e.g. Neil Walker). Cruz would quite likely have been a candidate to receive a second qualifying offer, but the new CBA makes that impossible.
MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk took a recent look at the upcoming free-agent class, writing that Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw (if/when he exercises his opt-out clause), A.J. Pollock, Craig Kimbrel, Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel and Yasmani Grandal can be considered among the locks to receive a qualifying offer (I’d agree with all of those and add Charlie Morton to that bucket as well). Mark also took an in-depth look at a number of borderline cases throughout the league.
Draft compensation under the new system is more complicated than it was under the 2012-16 CBA, as both luxury tax spending and revenue sharing are now factored in to determine the specific penalty and compensation associated with qualified free agents. Each team’s top overall draft pick is protected, but teams with multiple first-round picks can lose their late first-rounders in some cases. Here’s a crash course/reminder.
For teams that signs a qualified free agent…
- A team that received revenue sharing the previous season will forfeit its third-highest selection upon. Signing a second qualified would result in the loss of that team’s fourth-highest selection. Signing a third would result in the loss of its fifth-highest selection.
- A team that did not receive revenue sharing and also did not pay any luxury tax penalties would lose its second-highest selection as well as $500K of the league’s allotted international bonus pool. Signing additional qualified free agents would result in forfeiting the third-highest selection and another $500K of international allotments.
- A team that paid luxury tax penalties must forfeit both its second- and fifth-highest selections in the 2019 draft and forfeit $1MM of international funds. Signing a second would result in the loss of that team’s third- and sixth-highest picks, plus another $1MM in international funds.
For teams who lose qualified free agents…
- A draft pick after Competitive Balance Round B will be awarded if the team losing the free agent did not receive revenue sharing or if the free agent in question signed a contract worth less than $50MM in guaranteed money.
- A draft pick after Round 1 will be awarded if the team losing the free agent received revenue sharing and the free agent in question signed for more than $50MM.
- A draft pick after Round 4 will be awarded if the team losing the free agent paid luxury tax penalties in the preceding season.