Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports that the Dodgers will extend a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Brett Anderson.
I guess health has its privileges. And Anderson, for the first time since his rookie season, was healthy and started more than 30 games this year. In that time he went 10-0 with a 3.69 ERA and pitched a career-high 180.1 innings.
This is not a tremendous gamble for the Dodgers as Anderson was paid a base salary of $10 million in 2015 and had $4 million in performance incentives which, based on his number of starts and innings, one may presume he got. As such, if Anderson accepts the offer, they’re not giving him that much of a raise.
I said this morning that no one has ever accepted a qualifying offer. This time next week it’s possible that still will be the case. I think, however, we may have our best candidate in the running: Jon Heyman reports that the Padres will extend a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Ian Kennedy before the 5pm deadline today.
Kennedy posted a 9-15 record with a 4.28 ERA and a 174/52 K/BB ratio over 168.1 innings for the Padres this season. Maybe that gets him a multi-year deal, but it’s doubtful it gets him one with an average annual value of $15.8 million
Based on the examples of past recipients of the qualifying offer, Kennedy may very well try his luck for some longer-term job security, but he’s a closer case than many.
While free agents can’t sign with other teams until midnight tonight, free agency season truly begins at 5pm this afternoon. That’s the deadline for teams to decide whether to extend a one-year, $15.8 million contract offer to their impending free agents. This offer, known as the Qualifying Offer, will give players a choice: accept it and take that $15.8 million or reject it, become free agents and then force any team which signs them to surrender its top unprotected (i.e. non-top-10) draft pick. Players have a week to decide.
Those draft picks are often called “compensation picks,” but they should be called “punishment picks,” as they are, in reality, designed to impede the market for players’ services by punishing teams who sign free agents and depressing the salaries of most of the players to whom those picks are attached. No player, since the advent of the qualifying offer, has accepted one. A handful have taken a hit when going to sign contracts with other teams, as their value has been discounted by the cost of a pick.
Anyway, that’s what you’ll be hearing about this afternoon, as players either are given or not given qualifying offers. Then at midnight tonight any free agent — those with qualifying offers and those without — can begin negotiating with any other team. Unlike in football and the NBA, baseball free agents don’t tend to sign in a land rush, all on the first day. It often takes some time, which is part of why hot stove season is so fun. Expect moves and deals between tonight and early February, really.