As Brett discussed earlier, today was the deadline for players to accept or reject the qualifying offers (worth $17.2 million) from their respective teams.
Now that those decisions have all been handed down, the free agent market is entirely set – and teams are fully aware of the total cost (including draft pick compensation) of each player.
Although we tentatively expected all ten players to reject the qualifying offer (that’s usually the case), Jeremy Hellickson and Neil Walker both accepted theirs.
The former was a potential target for the Chicago Cubs this offseason, so that’s a mild disappointment, but the latter was never going to end up on the north side of Chicago. That said, I’m mildly surprised to see Walker accept the offer, given his 3.7 WAR, 122 wRC+ season in New York, but he’ll take the sure-money (it’s not like $17.2 million is nothing) and stay in New York. Given his recent surgery, that makes some sense. Hellickson’s decision also makes some sense.
The rest, including Dexter Fowler, have rejected their offers.
With Hellickson and Walker officially off the board, the following eight players are the ones who rejected their qualifying offer, and will enter free agency attached to draft pick compensation:
- Yoenis Cespedes
- Edwin Encarnacion
- Jose Bautista
- Ian Desmond
- Dexter Fowler
- Kenley Jansen
- Justin Turner
- Mark Trumbo
When these players sign with a new team, their former team will gain a compensatory draft pick after the first round in 2017. Their signing team will lose its first pick in the draft (unless it is among the first ten picks overall in the draft, in which case the team will lose its second pick).
Among the names above, Kenley Jansen and Dexter Fowler are the only two that have been at least somewhat tied to the Chicago Cubs in rumors or otherwise. And unlike Jansen, Dexter Fowler would not exactly subtract a draft pick from the Cubs to sign, but they will lose out on gaining a pick by allowing him to sign elsewhere (which is essentially the same thing and what happened last year).
So then, the free agent market is set. It’s not a particularly strong market, but the Cubs have done well with finding diamonds in the rough. Let’s see if any of these names entice the Cubs enough to forfeit a pick, and, if not, where they turn.