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MLB qualifying offers, contract options extended as free agency begins

More players than ever received qualifying offers from their former teams, but fewer options were exercised.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Friday was the deadline for MLB teams to make a qualifying offer to their own pending free agent players if they wanted to receive a compensatory draft pick should those players sign with another team. A total of 20 qualifying offers were made, which is more than in any previous year. Twelve players received qualifying offers a year ago, 13 players in 2013, and nine in 2012. The offer, which is equal to the average salary of the top 125 major league players, was $15.8 million for one season this time around. Players now have seven days to accept or reject the qualifying offers.

The trend for clubs to extend qualifying offers to potential free agent players is no doubt helped by the fact that no player has actually accepted a qualifying offer in the three years that the current system has been in place. Some of the players who have received qualifying offers have a market value of less than a $15.8 million salary for one season, but they will still seek a more lucrative multi-year contract on the free agent market.

The Detroit Tigers will have an advantage over most other teams should they try to sign a player who has received a qualifying offer, since Detroit's first round draft pick is protected. Most teams would lose a first round pick, but Detroit would forfeit a second round pick if they sign one of the qualified players, and a third round pick should they sign two of them. Players who were traded during the season, such as David Price and Yoenis Cespedes, are not eligible to receive qualifying offers and are not subject to compensation.

Players that received a qualifying offer
Player Team 2015 salary Agent
Brett Anderson Dodgers $10 million The Legacy Agency
Wei-Yin Chen Orioles $4.75 million Scott Boras
Chris Davis Orioles $12 million Boras Corporation
Ian Desmond Nationals $11 million Sports One Athlete Mgmt.
Marco Estrada Blue Jays $3.9 million TWC Sports
Dexter Fowler Cubs $9.5 million Excel Sports Mgmt
Yovani Gallardo Rangers $14 million Bobby Witt
Alex Gordon Royals $12.5 million Casey Close
Zack Greinke Dodgers $25 million Excel Sports Mgmt
Jason Heyward Cardinals $7.8 million Excel Sports Mgmt
Hisashi Iwakuma Mariners $7 million Wasserman Media Grp
Howie Kendrick Dodgers $9.5 million Larry Reynolds
Ian Kennedy Padres $9.85 million Scott Boras
John Lackey Cardinals $507,500 Steve Hillard
Daniel Murphy Mets $8 million ACES
Colby Rasmus Astros $8 million Excel Sports Mgmt.
Jeff Samardzija White Sox $9.8 million Wasserman Media Grp
Justin Upton Padres $14.5 million Larry Reynolds
Matt Wieters Orioles $8.3 million Scott Boras
Jordan Zimmermann Nationals $16.5 million Relativity Baseball

Friday was also the deadline for teams and players to exercise any contract options that they had for the 2016 season. We identified several players as "likely" to have their options picked up, and most did. Surprises of note were Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox and Nori Aoki of the San Francisco Giants, who both saw their team options denied by their now-former clubs.

Options Exercised
Player Age
Team Contract Type Buyout
Jose Bautista 35
Blue Jays $14 million Team $1 million
Joaquin Benoit 38
Padres $ 7.5 million Team $1.5 million
Clay Buchholz 31
Red Sox $13 million Team $245,000
Wade Davis 30
Royals $8 million Team $1.5 million
R.A. Dickey 41
Blue Jays $12 million Team $1 million
Edwin Encarnacion 33
Blue Jays $10 million Team $2 million
Alcides Escobar 29
Royals $5.25 million Team $500,000
Jaime Garcia 29
Cardinals $11.5 million Team $500,000
J.P. Howell 33
Dodgers $6.25 million Player $250,000
Adam Lind 32
Brewers $8 million Team $500,000
Brendan Ryan 34 Yankees $1 million Player None
Brad Ziegler 36 Diamondbacks $5.5 million Team $1 million
Options declined
Player Age Team Contract Type Buyout
Nori Aoki 34
Giants $5.5 million Team $700,000
Bronson Arroyo 39 Dodgers $13 million Team $4.5 million
Jonathan Broxton 32
Cardinals $9 million Team $1 million
Burke Badenhop 32 Reds $4 million Mutual $1.5 million
Marlon Byrd 38
Giants $8 million Team None
David DeJesus 36 Angels $5 million Team $1 million
Jonny Gomes 35
Royals $3 million Team None
Alex Gordon 32
Royals $12.5 million Player None
Jeremy Guthrie 37 Royals $10 million Mutual $3.2 million
Maicer Izturis 35
Blue Jays $3 million Team $1 million
Casey Janssen 34 Nationals $7 million Mutual $1.5 million
Cliff Lee 37 Phillies $27.5 million Team $12.5 million
Nate McLouth 33 Nationals $6.5 million Team $750,000
Justin Morneau 35 Rockies $9 million Mutual $750,000
David Murphy 34
Angels $7 million Team $500,000
Joe Nathan 41 Tigers $10 million Team $1 million
Joel Peralta 40 Dodgers $2.5 million Team
Chad Qualls 37 Astros $3.25 million Team $250,000
Ryan Raburn 35
Indians $3 million Team $100,000
Alexei Ramirez 34
White Sox $10 million Team $1 million
Skip Schumaker 36 Reds $2.5 million Team $250,000

Josh Collmenter's $ 1.85 million option was exercised by the Arizona Diamondbacks, although he would have still been arbitration eligible had the team declined his option.