Teams had until 5 p.m. ET today to extend their prospective free agents a qualifying offer -- a one-year contract worth $17.9 million (the amount is the mean salary of MLB's 125 highest-paid players). Seven players received a qualifying offer, and they have 10 days to accept or reject it.
Teams had until 5 p.m. ET today to extend their prospective free agents a qualifying offer -- a one-year contract worth $17.9 million (the amount is the mean salary of MLB's 125 highest-paid players). Seven players received a qualifying offer, and they have 10 days to accept or reject it. That deadline is Nov. 12, at 5 p.m. ET.
The qualifying offer system has been in place since the 2012-13 offseason. In the six previous offseasons with this system in place, there have been 73 qualifying offers issued, and only five (Brett Anderson, Jeremy Hellickson, Neil Walker, Colby Rasmus and Matt Wieters) have been accepted.
The rules regarding Draft pick compensation for signing players who rejected QOs changed a bit with the implementation of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement prior to the 2017 season, and the penalties for signing such players are less strict. A complete breakdown of those rules can be found here and below.
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Here's a breakdown of the prominent free agents who did and did not receive a qualifying offer. We've divided this list into two sections, leading with players who received a qualifying offer. A list of the most prominent players who did not get an offer is listed below that.
RECEIVING QUALIFYING OFFER
LHP Dallas Keuchel, Astros
A World Series champion, former American League Cy Young Award winner and three-time Gold Glove Award winner at age 30, Keuchel saw both his traditional stats and his peripherals regress slightly in 2018. Though his 3.74 ERA was nearly a run worse than last season and his strikeout and ground-ball rates both decreased, he pitched 200 innings for the third time in five seasons and lowered both his homer and walk rates. He will likely reject the qualifying offer, as he's in line for a multiyear deal due to his consistency, durability and postseason experience. More >
LHP Patrick Corbin and OF A.J. Pollock, D-backs
Corbin is the top starter available in free agency after breaking out with a 3.15 ERA and a career-high 246 strikeouts -- third in the National League -- during his age-28 season in 2018. With a wipeout slider in hand, Corbin struck out more than five times as many hitters as he walked while pitching 200 innings. After missing the entire 2014 season following Tommy John surgery, Corbin struggled to regain his form and was even removed from the rotation in '16, but pitched well in '17 before his true breakout in his walk year.
Can Pollock stay healthy? The five-tool talent is undoubtedly there for the 30-year-old center fielder, who flashed his full potential in 2015, his only All-Star campaign, when he hit .315/.367/.498 with 20 homers, 39 doubles and 39 stolen bases. But he hasn't played a full season since then, though he hit a career-high 21 homers in 2018 despite playing in only 113 games. If he were to accept the qualifying offer, he'd be the second-highest paid Arizona player -- behind only Zack Greinke -- and have a chance to impress over a full season. But if he were to decline, he'd be the top center fielder on the market. More >
C Yasmani Grandal and LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers
Grandal had arguably his best full season at the plate in 2018 with a .241/.349/.466 line and 24 homers, but had his season end on a sour note when he was supplanted by Austin Barnes as the Dodgers' starting catcher for a second straight postseason. Though he's a solid pitch framer and a valuable switch-hitting bat in the lineup, the market for the backstop, who turns 30 in a week, could depend on whether his top suitors would be willing to trade for Miami's J.T. Realmuto, who is younger and has a higher ceiling.
When Ryu has been healthy, the Korean left-hander has been excellent for the Dodgers, as evidenced by his 1.97 ERA and 5.9 K/BB ratio in 15 starts this season and his 3.20 career ERA. But the problem is that the 31-year-old hasn't often been healthy. After making 30 starts in an impressive 2013 rookie campaign and another solid season in '14, Ryu has only made 30 starts combined in the last three regular seasons after undergoing a pair of surgeries in '15 and '16. Though the $17.9 million would represent a massive salary bump for Ryu, the Dodgers are loaded up with potential starting pitchers for 2019. More >
OF Bryce Harper, Nationals
Harper is likely bound for one of the largest contracts in Major League history, and the $17.9 million qualifying offer would actually represent a pay cut for the superstar outfielder. Yes, his batting average has wildly fluctuated over the last four years, but he already has six All-Star seasons and a National League Most Valuable Player Award under his belt at the age of 26. Since debuting as a 19-year-old in 2012, he's slugged at least 20 homers in six of his seven Major League seasons, including 34 in 2018 and 42 in his '15 MVP campaign. He has also surpassed 100 walks in three seasons and stolen double-digit bases in four. More >
RHP Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox
Kimbrel is the best reliever in a free-agent market full of quality bullpen options. Already the career saves leader among active players at age 30, Kimbrel has closed at least 30 games in each of the last eight seasons and posted sub-2.00 ERAs in four of those campaigns. He struggled in the 2018 postseason and saw his ERA increase by more than a full run from 2017, but his career numbers and accomplishments are unparalleled in this year's market, and he should be in line for a long-term contract similar to those given to Albertin Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Wade Davis. More >
• If they lose Keuchel, the Astros would receive a pick after Competitive Balance Round B.
• If either Corbin or Pollock signs for at least $50 million, the D-backs would receive a pick between the first round and Competitive Balance Round A.
• If either Corbin or Pollock signs for less than $50 million, the D-backs would receive a pick after Competitive Balance Round B.
• If they lose Grandal or Ryu, the Dodgers would receive a pick after Competitive Balance Round B.
• Because they exceeded the salary threshold and are subject to the Competitive Balance Tax, the Nationals would receive a pick after the fourth round if they lose Harper.
• If they lose Kimbrel, the Red Sox -- who also were hit with the luxury tax -- would receive a pick after the fourth round.
NO QUALIFYING OFFER
2B Jed Lowrie, A's
The A's are reportedly hoping to bring Lowrie back to Oakland after the switch-hitting second baseman posted career highs in homers (23), RBIs (99) and fWAR (4.9) in the first All-Star campaign of his career in 2018. The $17.9 million qualifying offer was likely too steep for Oakland, which had a total Opening Day payroll of $66 million in 2018. Given that Lowrie turns 35 in April, this might be his final shot at a multiyear deal.
RHP Charlie Morton and IF/OF Marwin Gonzalez, Astros
Morton rebuilt himself with the Astros, moving away from his sinkerballer identity and becoming more reliant on a four-seam fastball that has helped him post a 3.36 ERA in 55 starts with a stellar 10.4 K/9 rate over two seasons with Houston. Though he turns 35 soon and underwent Tommy John surgery and hip surgery early in his career while also missing time with hamstring and shoulder problems, his recent success and postseason experience should generate plenty of interest in short-term deals.
Gonzalez played every position but pitcher and catcher this past season, and though the super-utility man saw his average drop to .247 in 2018 after a stellar .303/.377/.530 campaign in '17, he has still been an average to above-average hitter throughout his career with the kind of positional versatility that makes midseason injuries and postseason matchup flexibility much easier to navigate for managers.
OF Michael Brantley, Indians
The Indians have an unsettled outfield situation for 2019, but they chose not to extend the qualifying offer to the 31-year-old outfielder, who rebounded from a pair of injury-shortened campaigns to hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 homers in 143 games in 2018. He finished third in AL MVP voting in 2014, when he hit 20 homers and 45 doubles while batting .327 and stealing 23 bases; he followed that up with a strong '15 before a pair of shoulder surgeries and an ankle injury held him to 101 games in '16 and '17. More >
Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark.