As you go over the list of free agents to whom qualifying offers were made yesterday, it isn’t too hard to guess that we won’t have any acceptances this year:
- Jake Arrieta, SP, Cubs
- Lorenzo Cain, OF, Royals
- Alex Cobb, SP, Rays
- Wade Davis, RP, Cubs
- Greg Holland, RP, Rockies
- Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals
- Lance Lynn, SP, Cardinals
- Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals
- Carlos Santana, 1B, Indians
You could make the argument that Greg Holland *should* accept the one-year, $17.4 million offer, but he just rejected a $15 million player option, so it seems unlikely he was doing that just to try to wring out another $2.7 million.
Instead, it sounds like Holland, like everyone else on the list, will try their hand at free agency:
the 9 who got a qualifying offer r all expected to reject it. that's arrieta, davis, santana, holland, cain, hosmer, moustakas, lynn, cobb.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 7, 2017
I think part of the reason you shouldn’t be expecting any surprise acceptances this year is because the new CBA significantly decreased the penalties associated with signing a qualified free agent. Now, instead of losing a first rounder, teams lose picks thusly:
- If the team signing a qualified FA paid the luxury tax in the preceding season, it would lose its second AND fifth-highest picks in the draft (regardless of round), as well as $1M of its international bonus pool in the upcoming period.
- If the team signing a qualified FA did not pay the luxury tax, but does contribute to revenue sharing (i.e. larger market teams with more reasonable payrolls), it would lose its second highest pick in the draft and $500K of it’s upcoming international bonus pool.
- If the team signing a qualified FA did not pay the luxury tax and also received revenue sharing money last season, it loses ONLY its third-highest pick in the draft.
Compared to losing a first rounder (only the first 10 picks were protected), those penalties are quite soft. Therefore, teams will be less draft-pick-conscious when deciding whether to sign a qualified free agent, and the players can be a little bit bolder about rejecting the offers.
Still, if you’re Holland, you’ve gotta know that you’re coming off of Tommy John, you’re about to turn 32, and you posted a 6.38 ERA/4.99 FIP in the second half. And now you’re going to be tied to draft pick compensation (lesser than it used to be, sure, but still).
Heyman says Holland won’t be taking the offer, but if I were his adviser, I’d strongly suggest he think about it, unless all he cares about is locking down as much guaranteed money RIGHT NOW as possible (because, sure, I could easily see him getting more than $17.4 million total on a multi-year deal).
Some have suggested this same line of thinking might apply to Wade Davis (same age as Holland, injuries in 2016, and 2.89 ERA/4.80 FIP in the second half), but I think he’s a safer bet to get that sure-fire multi-year deal. I don’t think he risks anything by passing on the Cubs’ qualifying offer. I do think, however, that he may find tough sledding if he’s looking to match Mark Melancon’s (immediately regrettable) four-year, $62 million contract with the Giants.