14 Players Receive Qualifying Offers

Today was the last day for teams to issue qualifying offers to eligible free agents, as teams had to make their decisions by 4pm CT.  With the deadline now behind us, here are the players who were issued the one-year, $18.4MM offers…

This is the highest number of qualifying offers issued since the 2015-16 offseason, when a record 20 players received the QOs.  Only six players received qualifying offers last winter, which was the lowest ever issued in an offseason, yet not really surprising given the pandemic’s impact on the 2020 season and league revenues.

These 14 players now have until November 17 to decide whether or not to accept the offer.  If they accept, they’ll receive $18.4MM next season, and can’t be traded until June 15, 2022.  They also won’t be eligible to receive a qualifying offer in any future trips to free agency (players are also ineligible for the qualifying offer if they haven’t spent at least one full season with their current team).  Since the qualifying offer system was introduced in the 2012-13 offseason, 10 of the 96 players to receive a QO have taken the deal.

If a player rejects the qualifying offer, draft pick compensation is now attached to their market, unless they re-sign with their former team.  Teams who sign a QO free agent will have to surrender at least one draft pick, and potentially some international bonus pool money depending on their status as revenue-sharing recipients or whether or not they exceeded the luxury tax threshold.  (Here is the list of what every team would have to give up to sign a QO free agent.)

If a QO free agent signs elsewhere, that player’s former team receives a compensatory draft pick based on this criteria….

  • 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.

As always, several factors are weighed by both teams and players about whether or not to issue or accept qualifying offers.  This winter provides yet another wrinkle — this could be the final year of the current qualifying offer system due to the expiration of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement on December 1.  It is widely expected that the owners could lock out the players if a new deal isn’t reached by that date.  In the event of a lockout, MLB would institute a roster freeze on all transactional business involving Major League players, thus bringing the free agent market to a halt.

With this deadline looming, it is possible we could see some QO recipients (those less certain of landing big multi-year contracts) choose to accept the one-year deal in order to guarantee themselves some financial and contractual security prior to a possible lockout.  By that same token, this could make teams warier about extending the qualifying offer to certain players due to a larger suspicion that they would accept…or perhaps a player’s willingness to accept could make a team more inclined to issue a QO to a so-called borderline case.

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