Sunday was an important date on the 2021-22 offseason calendar. It was the deadline for teams to tender their eligible free agents the qualifying offer (QO). Here are our top 50 free agents.
The QO is a one-year contract set at the average of the top 125 salaries in MLB ($18.4 million this year). Free agents who accept the QO stay with their team and free agents who decline the QO are attached to draft pick compensation.
Here is everything you need to know about the QO and here are the 14 players who received the QO prior to Sunday's 5 p.m. ET deadline. All have been officially announced by the respective teams:
- 1B Brandon Belt, Giants
- OF Nick Castellanos, Reds
- OF Michael Conforto, Mets
- SS Carlos Correa, Astros
- 1B Freddie Freeman, Braves
- RHP Raisel Iglesias, Angels
- LHP Robbie Ray, Blue Jays
- LHP Eduardo Rodríguez, Red Sox
- SS Corey Seager, Dodgers
- IF Marcus Semien, Blue Jays
- SS Trevor Story, Rockies
- RHP Noah Syndergaard, Mets
- UT Chris Taylor, Dodgers
- RHP Justin Verlander, Astros
Correa, Freeman, Ray, Seager, Semien and Story will obviously decline the QO. They have larger paydays awaiting them. Castellanos opted out of the final two years and $34 million remaining on his contract earlier this week, so of course he will turn down the one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer.
The most notable free agent to not receive a qualifying offer is Clayton Kershaw. This doesn't mean he's necessarily going to sign elsewhere, but it's possible his Dodgers career is over.
Taylor is an interesting case. It's possible his value won't be higher in the future, but he's had better seasons. Belt is a career Giant coming off the two best offensive seasons of his career, but he'll be 34 next season and it's possible he wants to test free agency. Verlander is coming off Tommy John surgery and is getting up there in age, so he might be tempted to take it. Then again, he's never tested free agency before and there could be some bidding.
Former Marlins president David Samson reacted to the list of players with qualifying offers on Monday's Nothing Personal with David Samson. Listen below:
Conforto and Syndergaard are candidates to accept the QO. Conforto had a down 2021 season around injuries and Syndergaard's return from Tommy John surgery was delayed several times. He returned in late September and threw only two innings. Accepting the QO would allow both players to rebuild stock in 2022, then test free agency with no draft pick compensation attached next year.
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It should be noted only players who spent the entire season with one team and have not received the QO previously are eligible to receive it this year. Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Nelson Cruz, Starling Marte, Anthony Rizzo, and Max Scherzer were all traded at the deadline and are thus ineligible for the QO. Kevin Gausman, Kenley Jansen, and Marcus Stroman have received it previously.
Players who accept the QO are not eligible to be traded until June 15 without their consent, which prevents teams from in essence doing an immediate "sign and trade" by using the QO. Also, players who accept the QO can agree to a longer term contract. Jose Abreu accept the QO in 2019, then he and the White Sox tore it up and replaced it with a three-year, $50 million extension.
The gain or loss of draft picks is tied to the luxury tax, revenue sharing, and also the size of the contract the free agent signs. Players have until Nov. 17 to accept or reject the QO. Other notable free agents who did not receive the QO include Blue Jays lefty Steven Matz, Brewers outfielder Avisail Garcia, Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani and Rockies starter Jon Gray.