While 14 players were tendered a qualifying offer (a one-year deal for 2022 worth $18.4 million) in '21, Giants first baseman Brandon Belt was the only one to accept it.
Players who accept qualifying offers are signed with their teams for the next season at the designated value. Those who don't accept remain free agents, and if a new team signs them, their old team receives Draft pick compensation. From the time the system was implemented in 2012, only 11 of the 110 players to receive a QO have accepted it.
Here's a breakdown of this year's decisions. (Also included below are notable players who didn't receive a QO and players who were ineligible this year, as well as a breakdown of the rules regarding Draft compensation and penalties tied to the QO.)
Giants: 1B Brandon Belt
The star first baseman of the NL West champs, Belt received a qualifying offer after leading the Giants to an MLB-best 107 wins in 2021. Though a broken thumb suffered on a hit-by-pitch in September forced Belt to miss the postseason, the 33-year-old posted a .975 OPS this season and hit a career-high 29 home runs.
DECLINED QO (SIGNED ELSEWHERE)
Astros: SS Carlos Correa
New team: Twins (three years, $105.3 million w/ opt-out after 2022 and 2023)
Correa was part of a loaded class of free-agent shortstops this offseason, along with others who got a qualifying offer like Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Trevor Story. The 27-year-old batted .279 with 26 home runs and 92 RBIs in an All-Star 2021 season.
After Correa declined the QO and signed with the Twins, the Astros will receive a pick after Competitive Balance Round B in the 2022 Draft.
Blue Jays: LHP Robbie Ray
New team: Mariners (five years, $115 million)
Ray had a huge year for the Blue Jays after signing a one-year deal after 2020. The 30-year-old southpaw won the AL Cy Young Award after leading the AL with a 2.84 ERA and the Major Leagues with 248 strikeouts. He then turned down Toronto's qualifying offer before signing a five-year contract with Seattle.
As compensation, the Blue Jays will get a pick after Competitive Balance Round B in the 2022 Draft, between the second and third rounds.
Blue Jays: IF Marcus Semien
New team: Rangers (Seven years, $175 million)
Semien was one of the best signings of last offseason -- he joined Toronto on a one-year, $18 million deal after a down year in 2020, then hit 45 home runs for the Blue Jays in '21. Like Ray, the 31-year-old passed on Toronto's qualifying offer and left Canada to ink a lucrative deal with another team -- the Rangers, in Semien's case.
The Blue Jays will get an additional pick after Competitive Balance Round B in the 2022 Draft as compensation for losing Semien.
Braves: 1B Freddie Freeman
New team: Dodgers (six years, $162 million)
It was no surprise that the 2020 NL MVP and leader of the 2021 World Series champion Braves was extended a qualifying offer. It was also no surprise he declined it. What was a big surprise? The fact that Freeman left Atlanta to sign with the Dodgers.
The Braves will receive a Draft pick after Competitive Balance Round B in 2022 as compensation.
Dodgers: SS Corey Seager
New team: Rangers (10 years, $325 million)
Seager was limited to 95 games in '21, but the 27-year-old still hit .306 with 16 home runs and 57 RBIs. After turning down the Dodgers' qualifying offer, the star shortstop reached one of the largest free-agent deals in history with the Rangers, who also brought in Semien.
After losing Seager, the Dodgers will receive a Draft pick after the fourth round as compensation.
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard
New team: Angels (One year, $21 million)
It was uncertain whether Syndergaard would be extended a QO because his situation lately has been complicated. The right-hander pitched only two innings over the past two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but posted a 2.93 ERA and 27 percent strikeout rate over his first four seasons before taking a step back in '19, when he had a 4.28 ERA over 32 starts.
Syndergaard ended up getting a QO, but he landed a bigger one-year deal with the Angels for $21 million. As a result, the Mets will receive a compensation pick after Competitive Balance Round B of the 2022 Draft.
Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez
New team: Tigers (five years, $77 million)
Rodriguez seemed to face an interesting decision with the qualifying offer, missing all of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 and myocarditis before going 13-8 with a 4.74 ERA and 185 strikeouts in 2021. However, the Tigers saw a great deal of upside in Rodriguez beyond his 2021 numbers and worked quickly to sign him to a five-year deal worth at least $77 million.
The Red Sox will receive a Draft pick after Competitive Balance Round B in the 2022 Draft as compensation for Rodriguez signing elsewhere.
Reds: OF Nick Castellanos
New team: Phillies (five years, $100 million)
Castellanos opted out of the final two years and $34 million of the four-year, $64 million contract he signed with the Reds prior to the 2020 season, and the club made him a qualifying offer. The 29-year-old right fielder had a career year in '21, hitting .309/.362/.576 with 34 home runs.
Because Castellanos signed a deal exceeding $50 million with the Phils, Cincinnati will receive a pick between the first round and Competitive Balance Round A of the 2022 Draft.
Rockies: SS Trevor Story
New team: Red Sox (six years, $140 million)
Story joined the list of star shortstops who received a qualifying offer after the 2021 season, and like the others, he did not accept it. The 28-year-old posted his third career 20-20 season in 2021 (and his third in a row if you exclude the shortened 2020 season), hitting 24 home runs to go along with 20 stolen bases.
With Story's Red Sox deal topping $50 million, the Rockies will be awarded a compensatory Draft pick between the first round and Competitive Balance Round A in the 2022 Draft.
DECLINED QO (RE-SIGNED WITH SAME TEAM)
Angels: RHP Raisel Iglesias
New contract: Four years, $58 million
The Angels traded for Iglesias from the Reds last December and he had arguably the best year of his career as their closer. The 31-year-old had 34 saves with a 2.57 ERA and 103 strikeouts for the Angels, leading the American League with 59 games finished. That led the Angels to make Iglesias the only reliever to receive a qualifying offer this year. Although he passed on the QO, Iglesias returned to the Halos on a four-year deal.
Astros: RHP Justin Verlander
New contract: One year, $25 million
Although Verlander missed the entire 2021 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, he opted to pass on the Astros' qualifying offer. But that didn't spell the end of his time in Houston, as he reached an agreement with the club on a one-year, $25 million deal that includes a vesting option for 2023.
Dodgers: IF/OF Chris Taylor
New contract: Four years, $60 million
The versatile Taylor is coming off a career year for the Dodgers -- the 31-year-old was a first-time All-Star and batted .351 with four home runs in the postseason. Taylor declined the Dodgers' QO, but the club was able to re-sign him to a four-year contract.
DECLINED QO (STILL UNSIGNED)
Mets: OF Michael Conforto
The decision to extend Conforto a qualifying offer was expected, due to his strong track record at the plate but underwhelming performance in 2021. Given that, some thought the 28-year-old would accept and try to author a better platform season in '22 before re-entering the market without the QO attached to him. Instead, Conforto and agent Scott Boras will look to land a significant multi-year deal based on Conforto's age and previous success, which includes an .864 OPS from 2017-20.
Should Conforto sign elsewhere, the Mets will receive a compensation pick after Competitive Balance Round B of the 2022 Draft, between the second and third rounds, along with the one they will receive after losing Syndergaard.
NOTABLE PLAYERS WHO DID NOT RECEIVE QUALIFYING OFFER
Athletics: Mark Canha
Blue Jays: Steven Matz
Brewers: Avisaíl García
Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw
Giants: Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood
Padres: Tommy Pham
Rockies: Jon Gray
Twins: Michael Pineda, Andrelton Simmons
White Sox: Carlos Rodón
INELIGIBLE FOR QUALIFYING OFFER
Not every free agent can receive the QO. Players who have previously received a QO are ineligible, which means the following free agents are not eligible to receive one:
Alex Cobb (Angels), Dexter Fowler (Angels), Zack Greinke (Astros), Brett Anderson (Brewers), Kenley Jansen (Dodgers), Max Scherzer (Dodgers), Kevin Gausman (Giants), Marcus Stroman (Mets), Ian Kennedy (Phillies), Nelson Cruz (Rays), David Robertson (Rays), Wade Davis (Royals), Greg Holland (Royals), Ervin Santana (Royals)
Players who weren't continuously with an organization, either in the Minors or Majors, from Opening Day until the end of the regular season are also ineligible. Notable free agents in this category include:
Kendall Graveman (Astros), Josh Harrison (Athletics), Starling Marte (Athletics), Joc Pederson (Braves), Eddie Rosario (Braves), Jorge Soler (Braves), Eduardo Escobar (Brewers), Kris Bryant (Giants), Tyler Anderson (Mariners), Javier Báez (Mets), Rich Hill (Mets), Kyle Schwarber (Red Sox), Anthony Rizzo (Yankees)
Compensation for losing players who reject their QO
• If a team gives a qualifying offer to a player who then signs elsewhere, the club that lost the player is eligible for Draft pick compensation. The 2017-21 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 2022 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 13 teams currently qualify for these picks: Brewers, Cleveland, D-backs, Mariners, Marlins, Orioles, 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 15 teams in this category: Angels, Astros, Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Giants, Mets, Nationals, Phillies, Rangers, Red Sox, White Sox and Yankees.
• 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).
Two clubs exceeded the threshold in 2021: the Dodgers and the Padres.
Penalties for signing players who reject their QO
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 under the 2017-21 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: Dodgers and Padres.
• 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: Brewers, Cleveland, D-backs, Mariners, Marlins, Orioles, Pirates, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Royals, Tigers and Twins.
• All other teams will lose their second-highest selection in the following year's Draft, as well as $500,000 from their international bonus pool for the upcoming signing period. If one of these teams signs two such players, it will also forfeit its third-highest remaining pick and an additional $500,000.
Teams in this group: Angels, Astros, Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Giants, Mets, Nationals, Phillies, Rangers, Red Sox, White Sox and Yankees.