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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.

Clayton Kershaw to make Opening Day start for Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw Opening Day
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed it in March and he confirmed it again on Tuesday: Clayton Kershaw will start on Opening Day, Jorge Castillo of The Los Angeles Times reports.

The Dodgers are one of four teams that will open the 60-game regular season schedule on July 23; everyone else begins play on the 24th. With a 10 PM ET start, the Dodgers will host the Giants at Dodger Stadium.

Johnny Cueto will likely pitch opposite Kershaw for the Giants. Cueto was named the Giants’ Opening Day starter on March 11, before the league shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Manager Gabe Kapler hasn’t yet officially named an Opening Day starter for the makeshift season.

Kershaw, 32, made the Opening Day start eight consecutive times for the Dodgers from 2011-18. Hyun-Jin Ryu, now a Blue Jay, pitched on Opening Day last season for the Dodgers. Last year, Kershaw logged 178 1/3 innings over 28 starts and one relief appearance, his highest innings total since 2015. He went 16-5 with a 3.03 ERA, 189 strikeouts, and 41 walks.