As we discussed earlier (and in this helpful offseason road map of dates and deadlines) today was the deadline for teams to decide whether to extend qualifying offers to their eligible and exiting free-agents.
After an offer is extended (this year’s qualifying offer has been set at $17.2 million), that player will have until next Monday to decide whether to accept of reject the offer.
If he accepts it, he will be under contract at $17.2 for one year (2017). If he declines it and signs with another team, the new team will forfeit their first eligible pick (the top ten picks are protected), while the original team will gain an extra pick for their loss (after the first round).
Last season, you’ll recall, the Cubs didn’t pick until the third round, because they signed John Lackey and Jason Heyward, both of whom received qualifying offers the year prior, while retaining Dexter Fowler who would have otherwise netted them a pick had he signed elsewhere.
So let’s take a look at who was and was not extended a qualifying offer throughout the league (starting with the Cubs), and see if any of the other players could be of potential interest later in the offseason.
As expected, the Chicago Cubs extended Dexter Fowler a qualifying offer (and nobody else), which he is largely expected to (rightfully) reject. Although it just happened last season, I can’t imagine he will fall short of a four-year deal this winter, as he looks set to exceed the $17.2 million offer by a long ways (not in AAV perhaps, but certainly in overall value).
When he does reject it (and if he signs with another team), the Cubs will receive a compensatory draft pick for their loss. Of course, not unlike last season, they can still lose that pick if they sign one of the other free agents who received and rejected a qualifying offer of their own.
So, let’s look at the rest of the leauge, see who was extended a qualifying offer, and determine if any of them could be of potential interest to the 2017 Chicago Cubs.
- Jeremy Hellickson
- Yoenis Cespedes
- Neil Walker
- Edwin Encarnacion
- Jose Bautista
- Ian Desmond
- Dexter Fowler
- Kenley Jansen
- Justin Turner
- Mark Trumbo
You can check out a full list of the players who received a qualifying offer here at MLB Trade Rumors (including some other information on each), but that is the plain list right there.
There have been some stray (and loose) rumors connecting the Cubs to Kanley Jansen already, so he is likely your most obvious Cub-related qualified offer above. If the Cubs want to sign Jansen then, they will have to pay him a substantial salary and forfeit their top draft pick (30th overall). Of course, they’ve already shown the willingness to do so for the right piece in the past (and they could theoretically get that pick right back when Fowler signs elsewhere), so maybe it’s just a matter of fact.
Jeremy Hellickson also received a qualifying offer which is expected to decline, but could theoretically be interesting to the Cubs (who will certainly be looking for starting depth this offseason). In 2016, Hellickson threw 189.0 innings, with a 3.71 ERA (3.98 FIP). He wasn’t a dominant pitcher (20.0% strikeout rate), but kept the walks down (5.8% BB-rate) and was ultimately worth 3.2 fWAR over 32 healthy starts. I haven’t seen anything connecting him to Chicago, but I’m just going off the cuff.
There were also some non-offers of note.
First, the Washington Nationals decided not to extend a qualifying offer of $17.2 million to catcher Willson Ramos, which is a mild surprise, even with the ACL injury. He certainly performed well enough in 2016, but given the fact that he will not likely be ready until half way through next season, the Nats were not willing to take the risk. That said, now that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, he may be able to get an even better deal than he would have otherwise. Indeed, according to MLB Trade Rumors, his camp is hoping to land something in the 4-5 year range. It would certainly be a risk to sign him to a long-term deal, but he could prove to be a steal if you have the stomach to pull the trigger. An American League team might make the most sense, so that he could DH as he returns to duties behind the plate.
Second, the Kansas City Royals have decided not to extent a $17.2 million qualifying offer to designated hitter Kendrys Morales. Morales hit just .263/.327/.468 overall in 2016, but finished even stronger than that (.911 OPS, 24 homers in last 404 PAs). Still, at 33 years of age, the Royals were not interested in making the expensive gamble. He will enter free agency with no strings attached. Just like Ramos, then, he may ultimately get a better overall deal, but it would absolutely have to come from an American League team.
These ten players now have until Monday to accept or reject their offers.