So, it appears like teams have finally caught on.
All the qualifying offers are in to Major League Baseball free agents, with a record-setting 25 players receiving the opportunity to haul in a one-year, $15.8 million from their previous teams.
It is a huge jump from what had transpired in the three previous offseasons the qualifying offer system has been in place. The first year saw nine offers, with 13 coming the next year and 12 being extended last offseason.
(As a reminder of how it works, if the player doesn’t accept the QO and he signs with another team, the team that inks the free agent has to surrender its highest draft pick, unless that pick falls in the top 10. The club giving up the player receives a sandwich round selection once he signs elsewhere.)
Why so many?
One of the main reasons is that because it has become evident the agents have little interest in advising their clients to take a one-year deal after positioning them for free agency for months leading up to this moment. And since a decision has to be made in one week, there’s no proof what might await in the free agent market, leaving the players often believing there is a multi-year deal out there somewhere.
To date, none of the players handed qualifying offers had accepted the one-year deal, with the gamble coming back to bite players like Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales, both of whom signed a few months into the regular season. The team signing Drew, the Red Sox, didn’t have to surrender a pick because they were his previous club, and the Twins were clear of giving up a pick when inking Morales because the agreement was after the June amateur draft.
Now we will find out if such scenarios have scared off some of these 25 players from exploring the market beyond next week.
As for what this all means for the Red Sox, there are a few players in the group that they were eyeing to see if a QO would be heading their way. The potential of giving up the draft pick is of considerable interest to Dave Dombrowski and Co. this time around considering they sit at No. 12, the second highest non-protected pick.
If surrendered, it would be the highest spot ever given up to sign a player since the QO system started, with the Padres currently holding that honor after giving up No. 13 for James Shields last offseason.
“It’s a case-by-case basis,” Dombrowski said when appearing on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show Tuesday night. “Ideally, you never want to give up your No. 1 draft choice if you don’t have to. But I have been in circumstances where the player that you signed merits you being in a position where you feel as an organization that you’re willing to do that.
“You don’t want to do it. There are some circumstances you’d shy away from, where you say, you know what, I don’t want to give that draft choice up for this kind of player. You’re thinking your draft pick is going to be successful, so you have to weigh in to where you think the player you would be drafting there, the type of player down the road he projects to be. It’s something when you talk about development time, that you’re open minded to trading that quality of player you might get with that choice, or not.
“I think it’s a case-by-case basis and you analyze that based upon the player you have a chance to sign.”
The Red Sox would be most likely willing to surrender the pick in order to sign the likes of pitcher Zack Greinke, or, if they choose to go down this road (which I don’t think they will), first baseman Chris Davis. Starter Jordan Zimmermann might also fall into this group.
Starting pitchers Wei-Yen Chen, Hisashi Iwakuma, Yovani Gallardo, Brett Anderson or Marco Estrada? The draft pick conundrum might offer some hesitation.
It should be noted that some other significant potential Red Sox free agent targets will be free and clear from being saddled with QO compensation. David Price, Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir all couldn’t be offered the one-year deal because a player has to be with their team for the entire season leading up to free agency in order to be eligible. Price, Cueto and Kazmir were all dealt in the middle of the 2015 season.
Here is a list of the players receiving the qualifying offers:
Brett Anderson, SP (Dodgers)
Wei-Yin Chen, SP (Orioles)
Chris Davis, 1B (Orioles)
Ian Desmond, SS (Nationals)
Marco Estrada, SP (Blue Jays)
Dexter Fowler, OF (Cubs)
Yovani Gallardo, SP (Rangers)
Alex Gordon, OF (Royals)
Zack Greinke, SP (Dodgers)
Jason Heyward, OF (Cardinals)
Hisashi Iwakuma, SP (Mariners)
Howie Kendrick, 2B (Dodgers)
Ian Kennedy, SP (Padres)
John Lackey, SP (Cardinals)
Daniel Murphy, 2B/3B (Mets)
Colby Rasmus, OF (Astros)
Jeff Samardzija, SP (White Sox)
Justin Upton, OF (Padres)
Matt Wieters, C (Orioles)
Jordan Zimmermann, SP (Nationals)