Now We Know Just How Much This Year's Qualifying Offer Will Be Worth

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Now We Know Just How Much This Year’s Qualifying Offer Will Be Worth

Chicago Cubs

The Qualifying Offer is obviously going to be of some importance to the Chicago Cubs this year, with the team expected to make such an offer to outgoing free agent catcher Willson Contreras.

How much will the one-year Qualifying Offer be worth this year? Joel Sherman reports that it comes in at $19.65 million. No huge surprise there, but it’s a touch higher than folks were roughly estimating (it’s based on the top 125 salaries in baseball).

The Cubs no doubt already had that more precise number in mind when saying publicly that they would “definitely” be making Willson Contreras a Qualifying Offer, so I don’t expect any change there.

For those who don’t know, or those who need a refresher: the Qualifying Offer is a one-year contract at a certain price level – $19.65 million in this case – that the impending free agent can accept or reject. The offer must come within five days of the end of the World Series, and then the player has ten days to make his decision.

If the player accepts the Qualifying Offer, it’s simple enough: he just signed a new one-year deal with the team.

If the player rejects the Qualifying Offer, however, two things become true: (1) if the player signs with a new team, his former team will receive draft pick compensation (the level of which depends on market size and luxury tax status); and (2) the player’s signing team will lose certain things (again, the level of which depends on market size and luxury tax status – as little as a third round pick for small-market clubs, ranging up to as much as a 2nd and 5th, plus $1 million in international free agent bonus pool space, for teams over the luxury tax).

For the Cubs and Contreras: if he signs elsewhere after rejecting a Qualifying Offer, the Cubs would receive a compensatory draft pick after the second round in the 2023 draft (note: for a large-market team like the Cubs, the size of contract Contreras signs does not matter at all).

The team that signs Contreras will have to weigh what they are losing in signing him, however, which impacts the price tag they would be willing to pay. It is conceivable that, once attached to draft pick compensation, many teams will decide a large, multi-year deal for Contreras is not desirable. If enough teams project to feel that way, then Contreras and his advisors may well be wise to accept the Qualifying Offer from the Cubs.

No one expects that to be the case as we sit here today, but obviously the Trade Deadline was not a great moment for Contreras’s perceived value. You never know for sure when a one-year guarantee near $20 million, with the ability to hit the market again the next year without draft pick compensation attached, might look a good-enough option. I don’t THINK that’s going to be the case for a 30-year-old Contreras, but we’ll be monitoring closely. Not like him accepting the offer would be a bad outcome for the Cubs.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.