Fourteen players were issued qualifying offers before today’s 4pm CT deadline, making the largest slate of offers extended since 20 players received the QO during the 2015-16 offseason. Despite the large number, however, some notable (and surprising) names weren’t issued the one-year, $18.4MM contract by their teams, and will now enter free agency without any draft pick compensation attached to their services.
We already touched on Clayton Kershaw’s situation with the Dodgers, and now let’s look at the three other free agents (all pitchers) who were seen as possible or even probable candidates to receive the QO…
Jon Gray, Rockies
Perhaps the most curious non-decision of the day came from Denver, as the Rockies passed on giving Gray a qualifying offer despite their clear interest in retaining the right-hander. The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders reports that Gray “likely would have accepted” a qualifying offer, which likely factored into the team’s decision-making process. It seems like the Rockies simply weren’t willing to pay Gray $18.4MM over one year, even though Colorado seemed comfortable in the range of a $13MM average annual value, as per their recent extension offer of a three-year deal worth around $35-$40MM.
It seems entirely possible that Gray could find more than three years and $40MM on the open market, especially without any QO compensation involved. While the Rockies and Gray may yet work out a new contract, the Rox are now in the position of losing Gray for nothing. This would be an especially tough blow for the club considering that they held onto Gray at the trade deadline out of the desire to sign him to a long-term extension.
Carlos Rodon, White Sox
Some late-season shoulder problems resulted in a trip to the injured list and then a reduced workload for the southpaw, putting a bit of a sour end to an otherwise tremendous year. However, the White Sox declined to issue Rodon a qualifying offer, and may now be parting ways with Rodon entirely — both The Athletic’s James Fegan and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale indicated that the Sox weren’t going to make an effort to bring Rodon back for another year on the South Side.
With this in mind, it seems clear that the White Sox didn’t want to run the risk of Rodon accepting the QO, which seemed like a distinct possibility given his late-season shoulder woes, not to mention his lengthy past injury history. It could be that the Sox already consider Rodon as found money, considering they took a $3MM flier on him last winter and he delivered 132 2/3 innings of 2.37 ERA ball. The team might also have further concerns about his long-term health. As Fegan notes, Chicago could use some type of starting depth this offseason, but it looks as though the White Sox feel they can find that rotation help at a cheaper price than Rodon at $18.4MM.
Anthony DeSclafani, Giants
One of several pitchers who have revived their careers after coming to San Francisco, DeSclafani rebounded from a rough 2020 season with the Reds to post a 3.17 ERA over 167 2/3 frames in a Giants uniform. With some less-than-stellar Statcast numbers, however, the Giants may not have been inclined to have DeSclafani back for $18.4MM, though the team does have designs on re-signing him if possible.
There was a decent chance DeSclafani would have accepted the Giants’ QO, just as Kevin Gausman did a season ago. Since the Giants also issued a qualifying offer to Brandon Belt that could be accepted, the club was probably wary of committing $36.8MM to just two players for their 2022 payroll, even if San Francisco has quite a bit of financial room to maneuver.