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Today is the day players must accept or reject qualifying offers

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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:

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.

Nationals sign George Kontos to minors deal

George Kontos
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The Nationals selected the contract of reliever George Kontos from the Atlantic League Long Island Ducks, per an official announcement on Saturday. The right-hander has been assigned to Triple-A Fresno, but could still make his season debut sometime before the first half of the season draws to a close.

Kontos, 33, hasn’t pitched in the majors since he took a handful of back-to-back-to-back gigs with the Pirates, Indians, and Yankees in 2018. He inked a minor league pact with the Cubs over the offseason, but failed to break camp with the team and was subsequently released in mid-April. He turned in seven strong innings for the Ducks since then, allowing one run and one walk and striking out six of 27 batters in six appearances.

Last year, the veteran reliever posted a combined 4.39 ERA, 2.4 BB/9, and 5.1 SO/9 over 26 2/3 innings. While he hasn’t pitched anywhere close to his career-best numbers in four years, he may still provide some valuable depth for the club, whose bullpen ranks 10th best in the league with a cumulative 4.59 ERA and 5.9 fWAR so far in 2019.