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14 free agent players receive “Qualifying offers”

Uncertain market may inspire some players to stay put

NLCS: LA Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

MLB teams had until Sunday night to make a “qualifying offer” of $18.4 million to their own free agent players if they hope to receive compensation should the player sign with another team. 14 free agents who received qualifying offers now have ten days to accept the offers and stay with their current team for another season, or reject the offer and test the waters of free agency.

Players who accept the qualifying offer will earn $ 18.4 million for the 2022 season, and can not be traded until June 15, 2022. The amount is based on an average of the top 125 player salaries in the major leagues

Following is the list of players who received a qualifying offer:

Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants

Nick Castellanos, OF, Cincinnati Reds

Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets

Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros

Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves

Raisel Iglesias, CL, Los Angeles Angels

Robbie Ray, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, Boston Red Sox

Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

Marcus Semien, SS/ 2B, Toronto Blue Jays

Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies

Noah Syndergaard, SP, New York, Mets

Chris Taylor, IF/ OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Justin Verlander, SP, Houston Astros

Some notable players did not receive qualifying offers, despite being eligible:

Anthony DeSclafani, SP, San Francisco Giants

Avisail Garcia, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Alex Wood, SP, San Francisco Giants

Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Yusei Kikuchi, SP, Seattle Mariners

Mark Canha, OF/1B, Oakland A’s

Jon Gray, SP, Colorado Rockies

Michael Pineda, SP, Minnesota Twins

Andrelton Simmons, SS, Minnesota Twins

Carlos Rodon, SP, Chicago White Sox

Tommy Pham, OF, San Diego Padres

This could be the final season that the current system of free agent compensation is in place. Players would like to eliminate any payment of free agent compensation in the next collective bargaining agreement (CBA), although the payment of compensation applies to only a select few players. Since qualifying offers became part of the free agent system in 2012, 96 players have been given qualifying offers, with just ten players accepting. Most players decline the offers and opt for free agency, in search of a multi year contract. 23 players resigned with their existing teams after declining offers.

Here is a breakdown of qualifying offers by season:

History of Qualifying Offers

2021 14
2020 6 2 2
2019 10 2 1
2018 7 1 0
2017 9 0 1
2016 10 2 5
2015 20 3 6
2014 12 0 2
2013 13 0 3
2012 9 0 3

The Tigers have had limited action in the qualfying offer game. The club received a supplemental pick for losing Max Scherzer in 2014, which was used to draft Christin Stewart. They resigned Victor Martinez the same year, but traded other players such as David Price and Yoenis Cespedes before they became free agents.

What compensation do teams receive/ pay for qualified free agents?

Teams that lose a free agent player who declines a qualifying offer will receive compensation in the form of draft picks. Which pick depends on whether a team is a net revenue payee, and whether they paid a luxury tax the previous season. Teams are divided into three tiers.

• A team that receives revenue sharing will lose its third-highest selection in the following year’s draft. Should they sign a second qualified free agent, they would lose their fourth highest pick, and so on. If that team loses a qualified free agent, it will be awarded a pick between the first round and Competitive Balance Round A if the player signs for at least $50 million. If the player signs for less than $50 million, the team’s compensation pick would come after Competitive Balance Round B, which follows the second round.

The Detroit Tigers, as a revenue payee with a payroll well under the tax threshold, would give up their third highest draft pick- a competitive balance pick in Round B of the draft if they were to sign a qualified free agent this winter. That’s if the terms of the current CBA still apply.

The Tigers didn’t make any qualifying offers, but they may be in the market for an elite player or two, and the volume of qualifying offers this year could push their second and third highest picks back in the line.

• A team that did not receive revenue sharing, but did not pay a luxury tax will lose its second-highest selection in the following year’s Draft as well as $500,000 from its international bonus pool. If that team loses a free agent, it will be awarded a Draft pick immediately following Competitive Balance Round B.

A team that exceeded the luxury tax in the preceding season will receive just a supplemental fourth round draft pick. If that team signs a qualified free agent, they will lose its second- and fifth-highest selections in the following year’s Draft as well $1 million from its international bonus pool. Only the Dodgers and Padres are in this tier.

While MLB claimed that the system was designed to maintain competitive balance, the high revenue teams have benefited most, in part because they have made more qualifying offers. In reality, free agent compensation is meant as a deterrent for teams signing the top free agent players.

Compensation has been gradually whittled down to it’s current level for signing free agent players. MLB owners even offered to eliminate payment of compensation entirely in the last round of CBA talks, if the players would agree to an international draft. So they’re willing to make the concession, if players can get fair value for helping relatively few of their members.

Only six players received qualifying offers last winter with two players accepting the offers and two of ten offered players accepting in 2019. Players who were traded during the past season, and players who have previously been given a qualifying offer may not be offered.

In three straight seasons, from 2009 to 2011, the Tigers lost their first round draft pick for signing Jose Valverde, Victor Martinez, and Prince Fielder. The penalties were felt in the farm system for years to come. Those days are gone, as no team loses a first round pick as compensation any more.

If the compensation scheme changes in the new CBA, teams that made qualifying offers this year, before the old agreement expires, would still receive compensation. It is possible that this year’s qualified free agents will not be saddled with the albatross of compensation, but it is more likely that any changes would not take effect for another season.

Previously, teams that signed free agent players had to surrender compensation draft picks directly to the team that lost the player. There have been different levels of free agents that determined compensation. The current system separates those paying and those receiving compensation, based on market size and payroll.

While there is some reason to compensate teams that develop a player only to lose him to free agency just as he is entering his prime seasons, this should be the end of teams paying compensation for signing free agent players.