Two free-agents-to-be have accepted qualifying offers from Major League Baseball clubs, which is two more than some years.
Jake Odorizzi will return to the Minnesota Twins and Jose Abreu will be back with the Chicago White Sox next season after accepting one-year, $17.8 million contracts and foregoing free agency.
Eight other players, all of whom are in for bigger paydays and were expected to do so, declined their qualifying offers. That list is:
• Madison Bumgarner (San Francisco Giants)
• Gerrit Cole (Houston Astros)
• Josh Donaldson (Atlanta Braves)
• Marcell Ozuna (St. Louis Cardinals)
• Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals)
• Will Smith (San Francisco Giants)
• Stephen Strasburg (Washington Nationals)
• Zack Wheeler (New York Mets)
Now those eight are free to sign with any team they want. Smith, as it so happens, already did. He agreed to a three-year deal worth $39 million with the Atlanta Braves. Take the top closer on the market off your free-agent list.
The qualifying offer has proven a thorn in the side of free agents in years past. A team that signs the qualifying-offer players will now forfeit a draft pick to their former team. Modern MLB teams have gotten stingy with those draft picks, which is part of the reason Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel sat on the free-agent market last year into June.
After the MLB draft, the draft-pick compensation part of the qualifying offer goes away, which is why teams quickly signed Keuchel and Kimbrel. Until 2015, nobody has accepted a qualifying offer. Colby Rasmus was the first. Now a handful of players have.
The draft-pick compensation won’t hurt the likes of Cole, Strasburg and Rendon. If teams are willing to pay nine figures, a draft pick won’t stop that. Rather, history has proven that it hurts the mid-range free agents who aren’t assured larger multi-year deals.
That’s probably part of why Odorizzi and Abreu took the qualifying offers.
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