The value of the qualifying offer will be set at $17.8MM for the coming winter, per Jayson Stark of The Athletic (via Twitter). That’s down by $100K from last year’s mark of $17.9MM.
In every prior year that the QO has been in existence, it has risen. The offer price is set by averaging the salaries of the 125 highest-paid players in the game, so the number is obviously reflective of some broader market changes. Stark points out that some large recent contracts came with low base 2019 salaries, which may have skewed the accounting a bit. Obviously, a detailed assessment would be needed before reaching any firm conclusions. Prior years’ qualifying offer values were $17.4MM (2017-18), $17.2MM (2016-17), $15.8MM (2015-16), $15.3MM (2014-15), $14.1MM (2013-14), and $13.3MM (2012-13).
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 $17.8MM 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 2020 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 2019 season with the same organization are eligible to receive a qualifying offer; midseason trade acquisitions and signings cannot receive one. Nicholas Castellanos of the Cubs and Yasiel Puig of the Indians are therefore not candidates for a QO. Additionally, the 2017-21 collective bargaining agreement added the stipulation that players can only receive one qualifying offer in their career. Brewers catcher Yasmani Grandal and third baseman Mike Moustakas are among the players who cannot receive another this winter. MLBTR’s Connor Byrne took a recent look at the upcoming free-agent class, discussing the variety of players who could be considered for qualifying offers by their respective teams.
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.
Click here for a full rundown. 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.
This post includes information adapted from prior MLBTR posts on prior seasons’ qualifying offer values.