October 26, 2012
Predicting the First Offseason of Qualifying Offers
For the next several days, much of the baseball world will be watching the Tigers and Giants fight it out in the fall classic. But for the 28 teams whose seasons have already ended, the focus will be on what to do once the World Series is over and the winter’s work begins.
As soon as the Series ends, eligible players will become free agents. Under the new CBA, teams can still seek draft-pick compensation for departing free agents, but the old system of classifying free agents as “Type A” and “Type B” based on past performance has been abolished. Now, a team that wants to receive a compensatory pick at the end of the first round in the following year’s amateur draft has to make a “qualifying offer”: a one-year contract equal to the average of the top 125 salaries from the previous season (in this case, $13.3 million).
A player’s former team can continue to negotiate with him if he rejects the offer, but if he signs somewhere else, his new team will have to forfeit either a first- or a second-round pick (the first 10 picks are protected). In some cases, this could affect the size of the contract a free agent ultimately receives, since a team won't want to pay full price for a player and surrender a low pick (though the eventual earnings of a player good enough to receive a qualifying offer probably won't be affected as much as those of a relief pitcher who qualified for "Type A" status under the old system). A team can’t be compensated for a free agent unless he spent the whole season on its roster, which rules out mid-season trade targets like Ryan Dempster, Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, and Shane Victorino (not to mention the amazing Marco Scutaro).
Qualifying offers must be extended by 5:00 PM Eastern on the fifth day after the World Series. Players who receive them will have until the seventh day after the Series to accept or reject. So which players are good candidates for qualifying offers, and what will their teams decide to do?
Josh Hamilton, Rangers