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10 players receive qualifying offers

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that 10 players have received qualifying offers worth $17.8 million each: Josh Donaldson, Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole, José Abreu, Jake Odorizzi, Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler, Will Smith, and Marcell Ozuna.

The players have 10 days to accept or reject the qualifying offer. Accepting means they are back under contract with the offering team for the 2020 season; rejecting means they become a free agent with draft pick compensation attached to them.

We have talked in the past about how the QO system has hampered free agency. Teams that sign a player who rejected a QO must forfeit at least one draft pick. Teams losing a player who rejected their QO receive at least one draft pick as compensation, though it’s not a direct transfer from the signing team to the previous team. The compensation varies based on the team’s payroll and whether or not it receives revenue sharing.

The QO is unlikely to significantly impact the ability of players like Strasburg, Rendon, and Cole to draw interest as free agents. The next tier of free agents, however — the Abreus, Bumgarners, Odorizzis — may find a shallower market than they otherwise would have.

The $17.8 million value of the qualifying offer is actually less than last year’s value ($17.9 million), marking the first time the QO value has decreased since its implementation in 2012. The QO is derived by taking the average of the top 125 player salaries across the sport. Given some of the expensive contracts we’ve seen signed recently — Bryce Harper and Manny Machado come to mind — it’s logical to conclude we’re seeing a stratification among players. Those B- and C-tier free agents, if you’ll pardon my vague parlance, aren’t making what they should be making.

The current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1, 2021. The QO system will be a hot subject in negotiations between the owners and the union, potentially removed.

Rumor: MLB execs discussing 100-game season that would begin July 1

David Price and Mookie Betts
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Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score Chicago heard from a source that Major League Baseball executives have been discussing a 100-game season that would begin on July 1 and conclude on October 15. It would essentially pick up the second half schedule, eliminating the All-Star Game while hosting the World Series at a neutral warm-weather stadium — ideally Dodger Stadium.

In the event the Dodgers, who won 106 games last year, made it all the way through the playoffs, the World Series would be hosted in Anaheim or San Diego. The earlier rounds of the playoffs would be played in the cities of the teams involved, which might be tough since the postseason would extend into November.

Spiegel went on to describe this vision as “an absolute best case scenario,” and that’s accurate. In order for the regular season to begin on July 1, the players would need to have several weeks if not a full month prior to get back into playing shape — more or less an abbreviated second spring training. And that would mean the U.S. having made significant progress against the virus by way of herd immunity or a vaccine, which would allow for nonessential businesses to resume operations. The U.S., sadly, is faring not so well compared to other nations around the world for a variety of reasons, but all of which point to a return to normalcy by the summer seeming rather unlikely.

Regardless, the league does have to plan for the potential of being able to start the regular season this summer just in case things really do break right and offer that opportunity. Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated multiple times about the league’s need to be creative, referring to ideas like playing deep into the fall, changing up the location of games, playing without fans in attendance, etc. This rumor certainly fits the “creative” mold.