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6 free agents make qualifying offer decisions

November 11, 2020

Back on Nov. 1, six eligible free agents received a qualifying offer for 2021 -- a one-year deal worth $18.9 million. The deadline for them to accept or reject those offers arrived Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET. Players who accept qualifying offers are signed with their teams for the next

Back on Nov. 1, six eligible free agents received a qualifying offer for 2021 -- a one-year deal worth $18.9 million. The deadline for them to accept or reject those offers arrived Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET.

Players who accept qualifying offers are signed with their teams for the next season at the designated value. Those who decline become free agents, and if a new team signs them, their old team receives Draft pick compensation. Since the system was implemented in 2012, through '19, only eight of the 90 players to receive a QO accepted it, including two of the 10 last year, White Sox slugger José Abreu and Twins right-hander Jake Odorizzi.

But now, two more players have joined that list.

Full breakdown of the qualifying offer rules and deadlines here

Here are the players who received a qualifying offer for 2020. Those who declined the offer and will test the open market are listed with the Draft pick compensation that is now attached to them.

ACCEPTED QUALIFYING OFFER

Giants: Kevin Gausman, SP

Gausman who will turn 30 in January, struck out a career-best 11.9 hitters per nine innings with better fastball velocity to go with his trademark splitter in 2020. That performance earned him some multi-year offers, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. Gausman nonetheless accepted the qualifying offer to remain in San Francisco. That agreement does not preclude the two sides from working out a longer-term deal at a later date.

Mets: Marcus Stroman, SP

While Stroman elected not to play the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, he would have ranked among the best starters on this year's free-agent market if he had declined the Mets' qualifying offer. However, the 29-year-old accepted the offer and remain in Queens for 2021. Stroman finished with a 3.22 ERA and less than one home run allowed per nine innings across 184 1/3 frames in 2019, when the Mets first acquired him from the Blue Jays ahead of the Trade Deadline.

REJECTED QUALIFYING OFFER

Reds: Trevor Bauer, SP

Bauer was widely expected to decline the Reds' qualifying offer and become the premier starting pitcher on this year's free-agent market, and that's what he did.

One of the big questions regarding the right-hander: Will he stick to what he previously claimed and only sign one-year deals in free agency? Bauer already appears to be backtracking from that mindset after he led the National League with a 1.73 ERA in a Cy Young Award-caliber season for Cincinnati. Whatever type of deal Bauer signs, it is likely to include an average annual salary that will far exceed the $18.9 million qualifying offer.

Draft pick compensation for CIN: Between Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A (if Bauer's guaranteed contract is for a total of $50 million or more) or after Competitive Balance Round B (if his contract is for less than $50 million)

Yankees: DJ LeMahieu, 2B

As expected, LeMahieu did not accept the Yankees' qualifying offer. The ever-steady, unshiftable LeMahieu has proven he can rack up hits anywhere. While his age is a bit of a concern at 32, LeMahieu's track record (including his second career batting title in 2020) suggested that he would test the open market.

Draft pick compensation for NYY: After Round 4

Phillies: J.T. Realmuto, C

The talented two-way catcher might be the most sought-after position player on this year's free-agent market, depending on who you ask -- especially given the dearth of quality backstops across the sport. Realmuto has developed more power at the plate and still controls the running game as well as anyone. As was widely expected, Realmuto declined the Phillies' offer.

Draft pick compensation for PHI: After Competitive Balance Round B

Astros: George Springer, OF

Springer's postseason resume is as strong as anyone's in the sport, and he was one of the few Astros whose 2020 regular-season performance didn't dip much after last winter's sign-stealing scandal. Springer rivals Realmuto as this year's top overall free agent in the view of some top evaluators, as he possess an athletic skill set that could age well as he progresses into his 30s. Not surprisingly, Springer declined Houston's offer.

Draft pick compensation for HOU: After Round 4

INELIGIBLE FOR QUALIFYING OFFER

Not every free agent can receive the QO. Players who were traded during the season, and players who have previously received a QO, are ineligible. Those names:

Ineligible -- traded: Jason Castro (Padres), Tommy La Stella (Athletics), Mike Minor (Athletics), Kevin Pillar (Rockies), Robbie Ray (Blue Jays), Jonathan Villar (Blue Jays), Taijuan Walker (Blue Jays)

Ineligible -- prior QO: Brett Anderson (Brewers), Jake Arrieta (Phillies), Yoenis Céspedes (Mets), Shin-Soo Choo (Rangers), Nelson Cruz (Twins), Edwin Encarnación (White Sox), Howie Kendrick (Nationals), Ian Kennedy (Royals), Daniel Murphy (Rockies), Jake Odorizzi (Twins), Marcell Ozuna (Braves), David Robertson (Phillies), Jeff Samardzija (Giants), Pablo Sandoval (Braves), Carlos Santana (Indians), Justin Turner (Dodgers), Jordan Zimmermann (Tigers)

DID NOT RECEIVE A QUALIFYING OFFER

Angels: Andrelton Simmons, SS
Astros:
Michael Brantley, OF/DH; Josh Reddick, OF
Athletics: Liam Hendriks, RHP; Marcus Semien, SS
Cardinals: Yadier Molina, C
Cubs: José Quintana, LHP
Dodgers: Joc Pederson, OF; Blake Treinen, RHP
Phillies: Didi Gregorius, SS
Red Sox: Jackie Bradley Jr., OF
White Sox: Alex Colomé, RHP; James McCann, C
Yankees: James Paxton, LHP; Masahiro Tanaka, RHP

Compensation for losing players who reject their qualifying offer

• The current Collective Bargaining Agreement rules state that if the team that loses the free agent is a revenue-sharing recipient, based on its revenues and market size, then the selection -- if and only if the lost player signs for at least $50 million -- will be awarded a pick between the first round and Competitive Balance Round A of the 2020 MLB Draft. If the player signs for less than $50 million, the compensation pick for those teams would come after Competitive Balance Round B, which follows the second round.

The following 14 teams currently qualify for these picks: the Brewers, D-backs, Indians, Mariners, Marlins, Orioles, Padres, Pirates, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Royals, Tigers and Twins.

• If the team that loses the player does not receive revenue sharing and did not exceed the luxury-tax salary threshold the previous season, its compensatory pick will come after Competitive Balance Round B. The value of the player's contract doesn't matter in this case.

The 13 teams in this category: the Angels, Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants, Mets, Nationals, Phillies, Rangers, Red Sox and White Sox.

• If the team that loses the player went over the luxury-tax threshold, the compensation pick will be placed after the fourth round has been completed (as with the previous scenario, it doesn't matter how much the player signs for).

Three clubs exceeded the threshold in 2019: the Astros, Cubs and Yankees

Penalties for signing players who reject their qualifying offer

Any team that signs a player who has rejected a qualifying offer is subject to the loss of one or more Draft picks. However, a team's highest first-round pick is exempt from forfeiture, which is a big change that went into effect with the new CBA. Three tiers of Draft-pick forfeiture -- based on the financial status of the signing team -- are in place to serve as a penalty for signing a player who rejected a qualifying offer:

• A team that exceeded the luxury tax in the preceding season will lose its second- and fifth-highest selections in the following year's Draft, as well as $1 million from its international bonus pool for the upcoming signing period. If such a team signs multiple qualifying-offer free agents, it will forfeit its third- and sixth-highest remaining picks as well.

Teams in this group this offseason: the Astros, Cubs and Yankees

• A team that receives revenue-sharing money will lose its third-highest selection in the following year's Draft. If it signs two such players, it will also forfeit its fourth-highest remaining pick.

Teams in this group: the Brewers, D-backs, Indians, Mariners, Marlins, Orioles, Padres, Pirates, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Royals, Tigers and Twins.

• A team that neither exceeded the luxury-tax threshold in the preceding season nor receives revenue sharing will lose its second-highest selection in the following year's Draft, as well as $500,000 from its international bonus pool for the upcoming signing period. If it signs two such players, it will also forfeit its third-highest remaining pick and an additional $500,000.

Teams in this group: the Angels, Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants, Mets, Nationals, Phillies, Rangers, Red Sox and White Sox.