The Detroit Tigers were never going to extend a qualifying offer this offseason. They finished the season with three players on their roster set to hit free agency this winter, and one (shortstop Erick Aybar) was ineligible to receive a qualifying offer. There was never any discussion about catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia potentially receiving one, particularly because the Tigers only paid roughly $500,000 of his $8 million salary this year. The qualifying offer was such a non-issue for the Tigers that the team didn’t even release a statement on it, for instance.
But other teams have extended qualifying offers, and those will have implications around the league. Here is the full list of players who have received a qualifying offer.
- Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
- Yoenis Cespedes, Mets
- Ian Desmond, Rangers
- Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
- Dexter Fowler, Cubs
- Jeremy Hellickson, Phillies
- Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
- Justin Turner, Dodgers
- Neil Walker, Mets
MLB Trade Rumors has a full list that they are updating throughout the day. We will try to keep ours as up-to-date as possible, as well.
Most of the names on this list so far are not a surprise. Patrick took a stab at which players would receive qualifying offers last week, and is eight for eight from his “likely” category thus far. Neil Walker is the only player from the “maybe” category who has received an offer, while players like Mark Trumbo and Wilson Ramos have not learned their fates yet. Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is also on the qualifying offer bubble, but may not receive one after accepting the Orioles’ $15.8 million offer one year ago.
The qualifying offer, which is an average of the 125 most expensive salaries in Major League Baseball, has increased to $17.2 million for 2017. Saltalamacchia, who made $8 million in 2016, was worth -0.2 rWAR in 92 games for the Tigers. Should the Tigers choose to do so, they could bring back Saltalamacchia for a fraction of the qualifying offer cost next year.
In his earlier article, Patrick explained how qualifying offers tie into draft pick compensation.
The qualifying offer must be made to receive draft pick compensation for players lost via free agency. If a player declines a qualifying offer and signs elsewhere before the next MLB amateur draft, their former team is eligible to receive draft pick compensation.
Under the current rules, teams who sign a player that has rejected a qualifying offer must surrender their highest unprotected draft pick in the following amateur player draft, held in June. The first 10 draft draft picks are protected. This could all be changed when a new CBA is announced.
Of the players that have received qualifying offers thus far, Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson looks like the most likely to accept. Hellickson has endured an up-and-down career after winning the 2011 AL Rookie of the Year Award, and was acquired by the Phillies last offseason for pennies on the dollar. With several big-money contracts coming off their payroll in recent years -- including Ryan Howard, who is now finally a free agent -- the Phillies can easily endure a hike in Hellickson’s salary if he accepts the offer.