The seven free agents who were issued qualifying offers by their former teams must decide by 4pm CT today whether or not to accept. You can get the full rundown of how the qualifying offer system works here, but in brief — if a player takes the offer, they will return to their team on a one-year, $17.9MM contract for the 2019 season and can never again be issued a QO in any future trips to the free agent market. If a player rejects the offer, their former team will receive a compensatory draft pick should another club sign the player. (The signing team will also have to give up at least one draft pick and potentially some funds from their international signing bonus pool.)
Most free agents reject the QO in search of a richer, more long-term contract, and this is expected to be the case for most (though not all) of this year’s qualifying offer class. The MLB Player’s Association has now announced all of these decisions, so they’re all official:
- A.J. Pollock will enter free agency after turning down the Diamondbacks’ qualifying offer, tweets Jon Heyman of Fancred. He’ll be the top center fielder available and should draw interest from a fair number of teams, though his market demand is not yet clear.
- Bryce Harper declined the Nationals’ qualifying offer, per Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). That’s utterly unsurprising, as the superstar is lining up nine-figure offers as we speak.
- Craig Kimbrel is heading to the market rather than taking the one-year pact to stay with the Red Sox, Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com was among those to tweet. The veteran closer is expected to command a much larger and lengthier contract in free agency.
- Patrick Corbin won’t be accepting the Diamondbacks’ qualifying offer, as per Fancred Sports’ Jon Heyman (Twitter link). No surprises with this decision, as Corbin is set to receive the biggest contract of any free agent pitcher this winter.
- Yasmani Grandal won’t accept the Dodgers’ qualifying offer, ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez (via Twitter). Even in the wake of another mediocre postseason performance, there was little doubt Grandal would turn down the QO, as he projects to earn a strong contract as the best catcher in the free agent market.
- Dallas Keuchel has rejected the Astros’ qualifying offer, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports (Twitter link). The ground-ball specialist and 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner will hit the open market, and it remains to be seen if a return to Houston could be in the cards. The Astros could also lose Charlie Morton in free agency, and Lance McCullers Jr. will miss all of 2019 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
- Hyun-Jin Ryu has accepted the Dodgers’ qualifying offer, as we explored in detail earlier today. Ryu becomes the sixth player to ever accept a QO, out of the 80 free agents who have been offered the deal over the last seven offseasons.