Dexter Fowler is the latest free agent to be hurt by the qualifying offer system. He rejected the Cubs’ $15.8 million qualifying offer — the value of which is derived by averaging the salaries of the top 125 players — in November and became a free agent with draft pick compensation attachment. That means that the team that eventually signs Fowler (not including the Cubs) would forfeit its unprotected first round pick or its next-highest pick if the first round pick is protected.
Fowler remained unsigned into February. Rumors linked him with the Orioles for weeks until the two sides reportedly reached an agreement. And then there wasn’t an agreement, and Fowler signed with the Cubs on a one-year, $13 million contract that includes a mutual option for 2017. All told, Fowler ended up losing $2.8 million by rejecting the Cubs’ qualifying offer over three months ago.
The qualifying offer system has received a growing amount of criticism. Defending National League MVP Award winner Bryce Harper said the QO system “needs to change” in reference to Ian Desmond still lurking in free agency. And MLBPA executive director Tony Clark would like the QO system to be a topic of discussion when the next Collective Bargaining Agreement is negotiated after the season.
Add Fowler to that list. Via Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times:
“The whole qualifying offer thing, it’s flawed,” said Fowler, the outfielder who on Thursday signed a one-year, $13 million deal to return to the Cubs. “It needs to change. It definitely needs to change.”
“We’re veterans,” Fowler said. “And then they’re talking about a draft pick, an [unproven] guy, that you don’t even know what’s going to happen to him. And you’re [suffering] the consequences.”
If this keeps up, it’s hard to imagine the QO system existing as presently instituted beyond this season.