Tomorrow is the deadline for teams to extend one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offers to outgoing free agents. Doing so ensures that, if the player signs with another team, some compensation will go to his former team. (Full details of the system here.)
For the Cubs, they have really only two qualifying offer decisions to make, and they’re both quite easy: Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis will each get a qualifying offer.
Elsewhere around the league, some of the decisions are a closer call … and some could wind up impacting the Cubs directly:
alex cobb, who's made $9M in career, will get $17.4M qualifying offer from rays. had 3.66 era in walk year, has top changeup, just turned 30
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 6, 2017
Thanks to their need in the rotation and their connection to Alex Cobb via their manager and new pitching coach, you can bet the Cubs are going to be involved, at least on some level, with Cobb in free agency. (We’re betting so, at least.)
So, then, if he receives a qualifying offer and rejects it, as he would be expected to do, the price tag for signing Cobb would also include the loss of a draft pick and some IFA pool money. Specifically, for a large market team like the Cubs (a team that is not over the luxury tax cap), the price of signing a qualified free agent is the team’s second pick in the upcoming draft (for the Cubs, that would be their second rounder) and $500,000 in IFA pool money. That latter one is not a lot, but it would still sting a little bit, given that the Cubs *finally* get out of the IFA penalty box next year.
Keep an eye on Cobb’s market. I don’t expect it’ll be dramatically impacted by the qualifying offer decision, since most have been expecting that he’d receive such an offer. But it does impose a real additional cost on signing him. Enough to move the Cubs off of him? Not if they think he can continue being a quality middle-to-back-of-the-rotation arm for the next three to four years. But it’s a factor.
There simply aren’t a lot of quality free agent starters available this year, and as we discussed yesterday, the Cubs are looking to add two sure-fire starting pitchers this offseason. It will be a challenge. Maybe the added “cost” to sign Cobb will ultimately prove an assist for the Cubs in locking down a guy they want in a thin market.