The deadline for free agents to accept or reject the qualifying offer passed at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday evening. Ten players received the tender designation this winter, and two of those players accepted it: Twins pitcher Jake Odorizzi and White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, according to CBS Sports HQ’s Jim Bowden.
Odorizzi and Abreu will now return to their teams on what amounts to a one-year deal worth $17.8 million.
The qualifying offer is, true to form for baseball, a somewhat dense concept. As such, we wanted to provide a handy guide to what you need to know about the ramifications from Thursday’s decisions.
Who rejected the qualifying offer?
The seven (really eight) players to reject the qualifying offer are, in alphabetical order: Madison Bumgarner (Giants), Gerrit Cole (Astros), Josh Donaldson (Braves), Marcell Ozuna (Cardinals), Anthony Rendon (Nationals), Stephen Strasburg (Nationals), and Zack Wheeler (Mets). Will Smith (Giants) signed a three-year deal with the Braves prior to the deadline, effectively rejecting it, too.
How does rejecting impact their free agency?
The players who rejected will still hit the open market as planned. The catch is that there is now draft-pick compensation and/or punishment attached to signing them — depending on other factors.
What other factors?
Here’s where things get needlessly complex — or, in so many words, very baseball. The extent of the compensation and/or punishment hinges on things like whether the team receives revenue sharing, or if it exceeds the luxury tax. Basically, it’s supposed to reward smaller-market teams for losing homegrown players and prevent large-market behemoths from dominating the free-agent market.
Does it actually accomplish that?
What kind of compensation do teams get?
Again, it depends.
If the tendering team receives revenue-sharing and the player in question signs a contract worth more than $50 million, then the tendering team will receive a draft pick after the first round. Basically, that rule applies to only Josh Donaldson this class.
If the player’s contract is worth less than $50 million, then the tendering team receives the pick after Competitive Balance Round B — or right before the start of the third round. That’s also the case for teams who don’t receive revenue sharing, provided they also don’t pay the luxury tax — and remember, only three teams exceeded the luxury tax: the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs.
Those three teams don’t have any players hitting the open market who were tagged with the qualifying offer. If they did, and the players rejected the offer and signed elsewhere, then they would have received a compensatory pick after round four.
Once more, there are tiers to the system.
The teams who exceeded the luxury tax (the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs) would stand to lose their second- and fifth-highest draft picks next June, as well as a portion of their international free-agent bonus pool. If they were to sign two of the above free agents, they would have to sacrifice even more draft picks. There’s no reason to think that will come into play, however, based on recent history.
Beyond that teams that receive revenue sharing would lose their third-highest selection for signing one, as well as their fourth-highest for signing two. Everyone else? They’d lose their second-highest and a chunk of their international free-agent bonus pool. If they sign two, they’d lose more of that pool as well as their third-highest pick.
You can read examples of these parameters in play over at MLB.com.
Can these players receive the qualifying offer again?
Nope. It’s a one-time thing.
Did it make sense for Odorizzi and Abreu to accept?
Yes, it makes sense. They would’ve had their markets limited by the draft-pick compensation, to the extent that it’s wholly possible they would’ve been forced to sit out until after the draft, the way Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel did earlier this summer.
It makes particular sense for Abreu, whose reunion with the White Sox always seemed likely. This keeps him in town — and at a higher price than he would’ve received on the open market.