Earlier tonight, we took a look at pending free-agent pitchers who are candidates to receive a qualifying offer before the market opens in a few weeks. We’ll do the same here with hitters who are on the cusp of free agency. Players who have received the QO in the past can’t get it again (Brewers catcher Yasmani Grandal and third baseman Mike Moustakas come to mind), nor can those who were part of in-season trades (Nicholas Castellanos of the Cubs and Yasiel Puig of the Indians, to name two).
- Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals: The Nationals reportedly made a recent extension offer to Rendon worth more than $200MM. So, of course they’d take him back for a year at roughly $18MM. However, as one of the best players in the game, Rendon would have an easy time rejecting the QO.
- Josh Donaldson, 3B, Braves: After two straight injury-limited seasons, the Braves took a $23MM gamble on Donaldson last winter. The move has worked out swimmingly. Donaldson will enter the playoffs off a healthy season, one in which he slashed .259/.379/.521 with 37 home runs and 4.9 fWAR in 659 plate appearances.
- Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals: While Ozuna was not at his best during the regular campaign, he’ll still be one of the most sought-after hitters on the market. The soon-to-be 29-year-old comes with a fairly long track record of above-average production, evidenced by the fact that he will go to free agency on the heels of his fifth season with upward of 2.0 fWAR. He slashed .243/.330/.474 with 29 homers and a personal-high 12 steals in 549 PA this season.
- Jose Abreu, 1B/DH, White Sox: As of a couple months ago, Abreu did not look like a legitimate QO candidate. But the 32-year-old ended the season with a flourish en route to an overall line of .284/.330/.503 with 33 homers in 693 trips to the plate. While Abreu and the White Sox have made it known they’d like to work out an extension, the team could fall back on a QO if it’s unable to reach a multiyear agreement with him.
- Didi Gregorius, SS, Yankees: This was not a banner regular season for Gregorius, who missed the first two-plus months of the campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery last fall. After that, Gregorius saw his numbers plummet in comparison to the previous couple seasons, as he hit an uninspiring .238/.276/.441 with 16 home runs in 344 trips to the plate. Fortunately for Gregorius, he’s far and away the highest-upside shortstop due to reach free agency. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Yankees saddle him with a QO.
- J.D. Martinez, DH/OF, Red Sox: If Martinez does become a free agent, he’ll be a slam dunk to receive a QO. The question is whether the offensive standout will take a chance on going back to the market. Martinez, 32, would be abandoning a guaranteed three years and $62.5MM by doing so. As a defensively limited player who doesn’t have age on his side and is coming off a year in which his production plummeted in comparison to 2017-18 (though it was still very good), Martinez would be taking a substantial risk by opting for free agency.