The collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1st, and it’s unclear whether its rules for draft pick compensation will remain in place for the 2021-22 offseason, whenever teams eventually sign free agents. It’s at least possible that the current rules will be used once more. We know that the qualifying offer is set at $18.4MM this winter, and by mid-November we’ll know which players received and turned down a QO. If those players sign with new teams, here’s a look at the draft picks each signing club would lose – if the old rules are used.
Competitive Balance Tax Payors: Dodgers, Padres
If either of these teams signs a qualified free agent from another team, it must forfeit its second-highest and fifth-highest pick in the 2022 draft. The team will also have its international signing bonus pool reduced by $1MM. Both teams could plausibly sign a qualified free agent, though the Dodgers have significantly more payroll space.
Revenue Sharing Recipients: Brewers, Diamondbacks, Guardians, Marlins, Mariners, Orioles, Pirates, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Royals, Tigers, Twins
These 13 teams received revenue sharing and did not exceed the competitive balance tax. If one of these teams signs a qualified free agent, it forfeits its third-highest pick. These teams face the smallest draft pick penalty. Of this group, the Mariners and Tigers seem to be the most likely to sign a qualified free agent, but others like the Twins and Marlins are possible.
All Other Teams: Angels, Astros, Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Giants, Mets, Nationals, Phillies, Rangers, Red Sox, White Sox, Yankees
These 15 remaining teams would forfeit their second-highest pick and and have their international signing bonus pool reduced by $500K. The penalty is something of a middle ground. The Mets are of particular note: due to their failure to sign Kumar Rocker, they pick at both #11 and #14 in 2022, making that #14 pick subject to forfeiture.
What happens if a team signs two qualified free agents? The CBA calls for forfeiture of the next highest available draft pick. For example, if a team has already lost its second and fifth-highest picks and it signs a second qualified free agent, it would lose its third and sixth-highest picks. So as in the past, if you’ve already signed one qualified free agent, the draft pick cost to sign another is reduced.