Today is the deadline (4pm CT) for players who received qualifying offers last week – like Dexter Fowler – to accept or decline. Fowler, at some point, will officially decline. (See UPDATES below.)
After Colby Rasmus became the first player to accept a qualifying offer – er, well, the first to have his impending acceptance reported, anyway – Matt Wieters surprised some today by accepting the $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Orioles:
wieters is taking the qualifying offer #orioles
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 13, 2015
Given his Tommy John surgery in 2014, Wieters was probably at something less than full strength in 2015, hitting just .267/.319/.422, 100 wRC+, posting a 1.0 WAR. With a weak free agent class after 2016, and with him being only 30 at that time, it makes some sense for him to take a chance on a much bigger payday next year.
Conversely, it sounds like Ian Kennedy will not take the guaranteed money for 2016:
Source: Kennedy REJECTING qualifying offer. Will remain free agent.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 13, 2015
As we’ve discussed, Kennedy was looking like a mighty interesting second tier starter as a rebound candidate (his second half performance was strong in 2015, and his peripherals scream bad luck), but, with the draft pick attached … it’s a lot more difficult to justify. Maybe his market collapses, and there’s a steal to be had at the end of the offseason, and maybe things circle back. If Kennedy winds up settling for three years and $30 million, or, heck, two year and $20 million? Plus the draft pick? Is there interest there? I see a ton of potential upside. We’ll see how he does out there.
Accepting and then hitting the weak market next year probably wouldn’t have been the worst idea for Kennedy, but maybe other teams see the intriguing upside and pay him accordingly.
UPDATE: Another acceptance:
Brett Anderson accepted the Dodgers' qualifying offer.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 13, 2015
Given Anderson’s health history, you can understand why he might jump on a $15.8 million guarantee (and he stood to be hurt by the draft pick as much as anyone), but, man, 27 years old and coming off a season with all sub-4 ERA/FIP/xFIP? I do wonder if he could have done a good bit better.
Then again, if he shows he’s really healthy and pitches another full season, he could be a 28-year-old free agent in a market without many top pitching options. He could double or triple what he would have pulled in this year on a multi-year deal. I understand his thinking.
The Anderson decision shaves an arm off of the mid-tier market, but it also brings him back to a team that was going to be looking for multiple pitchers anyway (so the market impact here is neutral). The Dodgers must be thrilled about Anderson’s decision, as they can now fill a hole in their rotation without having to give out a long-term commitment. They’ll still be in the market for a top tier arm (Zack Greinke is the priority), but now they might be done beyond that.
UPDATE: Marco Estrada will reportedly avoid the qualifying offer stuff by signing a two-year, $26 million deal with the Blue Jays. That seems like a great outcome for the one-year breakout pitcher (with extremely questionable peripherals). I’d imagine the Blue Jays are happy, too.
UPDATE: Sounds like everyone else will be rejecting, as expected, including Dexter Fowler.