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2019 qualifying offer set at $17.9 million

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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the value of a qualifying offer going into the 2019 season has been set at $17.9 million. That’s a $500,000 increase over the 2018 QO.

The qualifying offer value is derived by taking the average of the top 125 salaries across baseball. Teams who make a qualifying offer to a player who signs elsewhere receive a compensatory draft pick. Teams that sign a player who rejected a qualifying offer from another team give up their highest non-protected draft selection. Players who were traded mid-season are ineligible to receive a qualifying offer.

The QO system has been the subject of criticism as many free agents with draft pick compensation attached to them have had trouble landing contracts. A subset of those who did eventually land contracts did so relatively late in the offseason or even during spring training, hurting their ability to be prepared for the start of the regular season. There is some belief that the QO system will be scrapped when the next collective bargaining agreement is agreed upon.

Among the players who could receive qualifying offers: Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock, Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Craig Kimbrel, and Andrew Miller.

Nationals to reinstate Max Scherzer on Thursday

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Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.

It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.

While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.

If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.