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10 got qualifying offers -- who's going to accept?

@RichardJustice
November 12, 2019

You will read that players almost universally reject qualifying offers. Which is true. Of 80 qualifying offers extended since 2012, 74 of them have been rejected, including 15 of 16 the last two offseasons. Of the 10 players who were extended a qualifying offer this year, most probably won’t give

You will read that players almost universally reject qualifying offers. Which is true. Of 80 qualifying offers extended since 2012, 74 of them have been rejected, including 15 of 16 the last two offseasons.

Of the 10 players who were extended a qualifying offer this year, most probably won’t give the one-year deal a second thought and will choose free agency.

But let’s take a look at the 10 players who have until 5 p.m. ET on Thursday to accept or reject a $17.8 million salary for 2020 and what they'll do. Players are listed in order of their spot on Anthony Castrovince’s free-agent rankings.

Gerrit Cole, RHP, Astros (age 29)
Rank: 1

Not a close call. Cole will enter free agency with two numbers in mind: $217 million and $33 million. David Price’s $217 million is the largest contract signed by a pitcher. Justin Verlander’s $33 million is the largest average contact. At 29, Cole is likely to break both records.

Should he accept? No

Will he accept? No

Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals (age 29)
Rank: 2

Another easy decision. Rendon is a year older than Nolan Arenado, who signed an eight-year, $260 million deal to stay with the Rockies last February. That contract is the gold standard for third basemen, and Rendon may top Arenado’s number anyway because the Nationals seem unlikely to allow Rendon to follow Bryce Harper out the door.

Should he accept? No

Will he accept? No

Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Nationals (age 31)
Rank: 3

The World Series MVP opted out of a deal that would pay him $100 million over the next four seasons, so $17.8 million for one year isn’t even a consideration. Strasburg is probably the second-best pitcher on the market and will top $30 million per year for at least five years and perhaps seven.

Should he accept? No

Will he accept? No

Zack Wheeler, RHP, Mets (age 28)
Rank: 4

Wheeler has emerged as just short of elite the last two seasons by averaging 189 innings with a 3.65 ERA, a 1.194 WHIP and 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings. His fastball and curveball spin are both in the upper tier of Major League starters, and he could land the third-largest contract, behind only Cole and Strasburg.

Should he accept: No.

Will he accept: No.

Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Giants (age 30)
Rank: 5

Bumgarner's pure stuff -- velocity, spin rate -- has declined, but he still had a productive bounce-back season with 207 2/3 innings and a 1.127 WHIP. He’s also only 30 years old, and while his days of contending for a Cy Young Award may be behind him, he’s clearly still a productive starter. Bumgarner's postseason success will have major appeal to contending teams who just watched starters dominate this past October. He seems unlikely to accept the qualifying offer, though if he did, another productive season might enhance his chances of landing a big deal after next season.

Should he accept? No

Will he accept? No

Josh Donaldson, 3B, Braves (age 33)
Rank: 8

Donaldson proved the only thing he needed to prove last season by playing 155 games for the Braves. Finally healthy again, he was one of baseball’s elite players in helping the Braves win the NL East. Because he’s 33, Donaldson offers a less expensive alternative to Rendon. He seems likely to land something in the area of $75 million over three years.

Should he accept? No

Will he accept? No

Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals (age 28 -- turns 29 on Nov. 12)
Rank: 9

Ozuna appears to have found a baseball home in St. Louis, and while his .800 OPS isn’t elite, the totality of his game makes him extremely valuable to a team that returned to the postseason this season. He has said he’d love to stay in St. Louis, and the qualifying offer gives him the chance to do that. Ozuna is also young enough that he could have a robust market next offseason without a qualifying offer attached.

Should he accept? Yes

Will he accept? Yes

Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Twins (age 29)
Rank: 11

Odorizzi has averaged 30 starts and 165 innings the last six seasons, and he is coming off an All-Star season in which his .300 xwOBA was in the top third of all Major League pitchers. His numbers regressed in the second half: from .620 OPS to .764 OPS. At a time when quality starting pitching is in short supply, this may be the 29-year-old’s best chance to land a multiyear deal. That said, Odorizzi probably won’t get $17.8 million of average annual value on a multiyear deal, so it’s possible he could accept and bet on himself, knowing he could hit free agency next year when he’d be ineligible to get a qualifying offer a second time.

Should he accept? He’ll think about it.

Will he accept? Maybe.

Will Smith, LHP, Giants (age 30)
Rank: 18

Smith was the only reliever to receive a qualifying offer, which says plenty about his elite status in the game. There could be a three-year offer out there for him, but relievers have experienced an inconsistent market in recent years, and he wouldn’t come anywhere close to $17.8 million per year on open market. Smith wasn’t traded this season, in part, because the Giants were in contention at the Trade Deadline. If he takes the qualifying offer, look for him to definitely be moved next summer.

Should he accept? Yes

Will he accept? Yes

Jose Abreu, 1B, White Sox (age 31)
Rank: NR

It’s almost impossible to imagine Abreu playing anywhere else, especially with the White Sox close to being competitive again. He’s the face of the franchise, the leader in the clubhouse and a solid contributor. Whether or not he accepts the qualifying offer, Abreu seems likely to sign a long-term deal with the White Sox by Opening Day.

Should he accept? Yes

Will he accept? Yes, or sign a new deal.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.