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Report: Free agent qualifying offer to go DOWN this year

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You know how the qualifying offer works by now: most free agents to be can be made a qualifying offer following the conclusion of the postseason. If they accept it, great, that’s their salary on a one-year deal with their most recent team. If they reject it, any team that signs that player in free agency has to surrender their highest non-protected draft pick in next June’s draft.

It’s a tax on signing free agents, basically. It’s intended to be a tax and it has done a really good job of helping to depress the free agent market. But we’ll have all winter to talk about that.

How is the qualifying offer set? It’s a formula. Major League Baseball takes the average of the top 125 salaries across baseball and, bam, that’s the qualifying offer. Here’s the history of what that formula worked out to each year since the qualifying offer system was implemented in 2012. The year is for the season immediately preceding the winter for which the qualifying offer is in play:

2012: $13.3 million
2013: $14.1 million
2014: $15.3 million
2015: $15.8 million
2016: $17.2 million
2017: $17.4 million
2018: $17.9 million

As you can see, the qualifying offer has gone up every year because salaries go up every years. Makes sense, right? 

Well, get a load of this:

Major League Baseball and its clubs have done everything it can to push salaries down. The story they like to tell is that they’re simply more efficient and what they’re actually doing is paying less to unproductive players, but by definition, a lower qualifying offer means that salaries for the top players in the game are going down on average too. All while revenues continue to rise year-over-year.

There’s a storm coming, folks. A labor storm. If it doesn’t hit, I’ll be shocked.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).