As you probably know, free agents who spent the entire 2016 season with one team are eligible to be given qualifying offers by that club. The qualifying offer is $17.2 million this year. If a player accepts it, that’s his deal, for one year, with his 2016 club. If he rejects it and if he signs elsewhere, his 2016 team gets draft pick compensation in the form of the signing team’s first round pick, with the top 10 picks protected.
Today is the day by which players who were given qualifying offers by their 2016 club have to decide what to do. The deadline is 5pm. Here are the players who are on the clock:
- Jose Bautista: Blue Jays
- Edwin Encarnacion: Blue Jays
- Dexter Fowler: Cubs
- Kenley Jansen: Dodgers
- Justin Turner: Dodgers
- Yoenis Cespedes: Mets
- Neil Walker: Mets
- Mark Trumbo: Orioles
- Jeremy Hellickson: Phillies
- Ian Desmond: Rangers
Most if not all of these players will reject the qualifying offer.
For example, Yoenis Cespedes opted-out of a deal for 2017 that would’ve paid him far more than $17.2 million. Edwin Encarnacion is clearly worth more than that as well and will get a multi-year deal. The Dodgers free agents — Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner — will be in high demand and are likely to land more lucrative multi-year deals as well. The same is likely true of Mark Trumbo, even if he’s probably not worth what your typical 47-homer player may command.
As for the closer cases: Dexter Fowler has alreaady said he will decline his. Ian Desmond rejected a qualifying offer from the Nationals last year and didn’t sign with the Rangers until well after spring training began, which may give him pause about how to proceed this year. He raised their stock considerably in 2016, however, and may choose to test the full market once again. UPDATE: Yup, he will.
Neil Walker has been a superior bat for several years running now, but he missed September with an injury and required surgery, so the double-whammy of health concerns and draft pick compensation may depress his market, causing him to look hard at that $17.2 million bird in the hand. Jeremy Hellickson is no one’s idea of your typical top free agent pitcher, but the market is extraordinarily thin this winter. He is reported to be leaning toward rejecting his qualifying offer and, if he does, it would be hard to blame him given that even medicore pitchers have received pretty big multi-year deals in recent years.
Last year there were three players — Colby Rasmus, Matt Wieters and Brett Anderson — accepted. They were the first three players to ever accept a qualifying offer. As of 5pm tonight they may still be the only three to have done so.