As expected, the Blue Jays will issue qualifying offers to Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (all Twitter links). The Jays opted against issuing the QO to Steven Matz, however, and Heyman adds that Matz also recently turned down a multi-year contract offer from Toronto.
There was no doubt Semien and Ray would receive qualifying offers, as two of the top members of the 2021-22 free agent class. Semien and Ray will also surely reject the qualifying offer (a one-year, $18.4MM deal) and look to land pricey longer-term contracts on the open market. Toronto has interest in re-signing both players, but if Semien and/or Ray sign elsewhere after turning down the QO, the Jays will now receive compensatory draft picks.
Matz was an interesting borderline QO case, and the Blue Jays front office was reportedly weighing the idea of extending the offer to the left-hander. Unlike the other two Toronto free agents, Matz might have been a candidate to accept, even though he has posted very solid numbers in three of his last four seasons (excepting an injury-plagued down year in 2020). Matz doesn’t quite have the established track record to ensure that he would be a lock for a big multi-year contract on the open market, and thus might have preferred to take that one-year, $18.4MM guarantee now and then test free agency again next year.
However, it seems the Blue Jays might have felt $18.4MM was too much to spend for one season of Matz, even if the Jays are expected to spend more in payroll next year. This doesn’t mean a reunion between Matz and the Jays isn’t possible, except Toronto will now have to compete with other suitors to lock down Matz’s services. With free agency officially opening on Monday, Matz is surely interested in hearing from those other suitors, so it isn’t surprising that he rejected the Jays’ last-minute contract offer.