As expected, catcher J.T. Realmuto and outfielder George Springer rejected the $18.9 million qualifying offer prior to Wednesday's 5 p.m. ET deadline, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reports. The duo will now be attached to draft-pick compensation as free agents. Giants righty Kevin Gausman, meanwhile, has accepted the qualifying offer and will return to the team, reports ESPN's Jeff Passan.
Six free agents were tendered the qualifying offer this offseason. Here are their decisions:
- RHP Trevor Bauer, Reds:
- RHP Kevin Gausman, Giants: accepted
- INF DJ LeMahieu, Yankees:
- C J.T. Realmuto, Phillies: rejected
- OF George Springer, Astros: rejected
- RHP Marcus Stroman, Mets:
Bauer, LeMahieu, Realmuto, and Springer were all expected to reject the qualifying offer. They are in line for much larger paydays and multi-year contracts this offseason. Gausman and Stroman were more on the fence, however, and ultimately both pitchers accepted the $18.9 million qualifying offer rather than test the open market.
Gausman, 29, pitched to a 3.62 ERA with 79 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings with San Francisco in 2020. The Giants tweaked his pitch selection a tad (he threw more splitters, specifically) and the result was a career best 11.9 K/9. Gausman and Giants were said to be discussing a multi-year contract but apparently couldn't agree to a deal prior to the qualifying offer deadline.
Our R.J. Anderson ranked Springer, Realmuto, Bauer, and LeMahieu the top four free agents on the market this offseason in that order. If those players sign with a new team, their former team will now be entitled to draft-pick compensation. Here are the compensation terms should any of these players sign with a new team:
- Astros: Pick after fourth round for Springer.
- Phillies: Pick after Competitive Balance Round B for Realmuto.
- Reds: Pick after first round if Bauer's contract is $50 million or more, otherwise a pick after Competitive Balance Round B.
- Yankees: Pick after fourth round for LeMahieu.
Draft pick compensation is tied to the team's luxury tax situation and the player's contract, hence different picks for different players. Teams that sign a qualified free agent will surrender a draft pick (or draft picks and international bonus money, in some instances) after the first round.
To be clear, players who reject the qualifying offer can still return to their former team. The Phillies are expected to push hard to retain Realmuto and there's said to be mutual interest in a reunion between the Yankees and LeMahieu. The qualifying offer just entitles the team to draft-pick compensation should the two sides be unable to work out a deal.
With the qualifying offer deadline in the rear-view mirror, the next notable roster deadline on the offseason calendar is Nov. 20. That is the day teams must set their 40-man roster for next month's Rule 5 Draft. Lots of top prospects will be added to the 40-man that day. Also, there will be several small trades as well as teams get their roster in order.