Recently I wrote about the potential free agent issue the Cubs will face in this year’s market. In short, this year’s free agent class, although loaded, could be comprised of an atypically large volume of players who have received and rejected Qualifying Offers, thus tying their signing to draft pick/IFA penalties (harsher for big market teams like the Cubs).
So, if you’re a big market club (like the Cubs), and you’re picking high in the draft and generally don’t want to be losing draft/IFA capital right now (also like the Cubs), it’s going to be a little extra tough to justify signing a qualified free agent this offseason unless you get a great deal and/or are extremely committed to wanting that player for several years.
UNLESS! Unless the whole Qualifying Offer/draft pick cost system goes away this offseason because of the expiring CBA! That’s a caveat! I included that caveat!
… buuuuuuut Ken Rosenthal today writes that no one in the game is expecting it to go away for this offseason, at least:
“[R]epresentatives on both the players’ and owners’ sides expect the system to remain intact for at least the 2021-22 offseason, and teams have acted accordingly. The Rockies, for example, declined to trade shortstop Trevor Story anticipating they would extend him a qualifying offer and receive draft-pick compensation if he left as a free agent. Their owner, Dick Monfort, is the chairman of the league’s labor-policy committee.”
Which makes sense, by the way. The Qualifying Offer deadlines (offers and acceptance/rejection) come long before the CBA expires on December 1. So these decisions – as well as various extension or other signing and rostering decisions – have to be made on some kind of future assumptions. It would be a little unfair to expect players and teams to proceed blindly, and then punish them for guessing wrong.
So it’s always been my guess that some version of these rules would remain in place for this offseason, even if the CBA changes the whole scheme.
THAT SAID! There’s still a caveat!
It’s possible that the CBA could change the rules to benefit players for this offseason: i.e., the guys who rejected Qualifying Offers won’t be tied to any kind of penalty, and instead it would only be their former teams who get draft pick compensation. There are still fairness concerns there – what about a player who accepted a Qualifying Offer because he feared his market would be negatively impacted by the threat of draft pick/IFA costs? – but it’s a little less than if the whole system just went away midstream.
I still think, though, that this offseason will be governed by the old rules, regardless of the CBA changes. The last time there were major changes to free agency and draft pick compensation (remember the old Type A and Type B free agent system?) back in December 2011, those changes did not kick in fully until the next offseason.
So, bringing it back to the Cubs … yup, all that stuff I wrote about the Qualifying Offer problem, and the particular pool of free agents this year, still applies:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) September 7, 2021