According to the Associated Press the value of the free agent qualifying offer has risen from $14.1 million last offseason to $15.3 million this offseason, which means teams hoping to receive draft pick compensation for losing a free agent will need to risk the player accepting a one-year deal for that amount.
Last offseason zero of the 22 players who received $14.1 million qualifying offers accepted them, although several players who turned them down (Kendrys Morales, Stephen Drew) ended up regretting the decision later.
The price of the qualifying offer is the average salary of the 125 highest-paid players in baseball and since being introduced in 2012 has risen from $13.3 million to $14.1 million to $15.3 million.
Among the free agents who seem like good bets to receive qualifying offers this winter: Max Scherzer, James Shields, Hanley Ramirez, Victor Martinez, Pablo Sandoval, J.J. Hardy, Russell Martin, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, David Robertson.
Impending free agents who were traded during the season (Jon Lester, for example) are not eligible to receive qualifying offers.
The Brewers reportedly signed third baseman Mike Moustakas to a one-year, $10 million contract on Sunday. While the deal is not yet official, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports that the Brewers plan to give Moustakas a look at second base during spring training. If all goes well, he will be the primary second baseman and Travis Shaw will stay at third base.
The initial thought was that Moustakas would simply take over at third base for the more versatile Shaw. Moustakas has spent 8,035 of his career defensive innings at third base, 35 innings at first base, and none at second. In fact, he has never played second base as a pro player. Shaw, meanwhile, has spent 268 of his 4,073 1/3 defensive innings in the majors at second base and played there as recently as October.
This is certainly an interesting wrinkle to signing Moustakas, who is a decent third baseman. He was victimized by another slow free agent market, not signing until March last year on a $6.5 million deal with a $15 million mutual option for this season. That option was declined, obviously, and he ended up signing for $5 million cheaper here in February as the Brewers waited him out. Notably, Moustakas did not have qualifying offer compensation attached to him this time around.
Last season, between the Royals and Brewers, the 30-year-old Moustakas hit .251/.315/.459 with 28 home runs and 95 RBI in 635 plate appearances.