There wasn’t too much mystery today in the qualifying offer decisions that were due by 4pm CT. The vast majority of free agents who received the $15.3 million qualifying offer were expected to reject them, and now all of them have. That includes obvious names like Russell Martin, James Shields, and Max Scherzer, to name three.
Michael Cuddyer pulled a double surprise today, not only by rejecting the Rockies’ qualifying offer, but by signing a two-year deal with the Mets for just $6 million more than the value of the one-year qualifying offer.
The only other two players for whom there was a small question left were reliever David Robertson and starter Francisco Liriano. The Cubs have been connected to Robertson many times, and he would now officially cost the Cubs a second round pick to sign (or a later pick if the Cubs have already signed a qualified free agent by that time (aka stacking free agent signings, which is not a bad idea, given the reduced “cost” each time you sign a guy)).
The Cubs haven’t yet been explicitly connected to Liriano, but I’d expect that to change in the coming weeks. The 31-year-old lefty is coming off some resurgent years in Pittsburgh after control problems plagued his later 20s (which, in turn, followed some dominant years), and, now attached to draft pick compensation, could find a soft market. If so, and given the reduced “cost” to the Cubs, I’d like to think they will give him a close look. For the Pirates, they’ve got some financial flexibility now, but they’ve also got an arm to replace – one worth nearly 5 WAR over the past two years.
I’ll soon write more on Liriano as a possible fit for the Cubs, but, for now, I just wanted to get the qualifying offer decision in front of you. No player has ever accepted a qualifying offer in the three years of its existence, and the system for draft pick compensation is presently rued as broken from the moment it was adopted. In other words: this will be changed in the next CBA after 2016.