MLB hot stove: These six players declined qualifying offers; will anyone be sorry?
Six players turned down a one-year, $17.9 million deal in order to hit free agency
Dodgers lefty Hyun-jin Ryu . The other six players who received one rejected it. In recent years, we've seen a few players -- not many, but a few -- burned by turning down the one-year deal and electing free agency instead. Here are the six players who decided to hit free agency with draft compensation attached instead of taking nearly $18 mil to stay put for one more year.
Patrick Corbin is coming off his second All-Star appearance and had a very good season in 2018. He was 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 246 strikeouts in 200 innings. Going by WAR (4.6), it was the most productive season of his career. Nice timing, eh? He's heading to his age-29 season, so there should be a few more very productive seasons left in that arm. He won't regret turning this down.
Yasmani Grandal is someone who might end up regretting this choice, but I don't think he will. He went through a rough postseason that included a few, frankly, embarrassing episodes. Still, last season he hit .241/.349/.466 (121 OPS+) with 24 home runs. He's had at least 20 homers in each of the last three seasons. Framing metrics love him behind the plate, too. He has competition in free agency from Wilson Ramos, Kurt Suzuki, Robinson Chirinos and Martin Maldonado -- and none of them have draft compensation attached. J.T. Realmuto could also be traded. Maybe this all leads to Grandal having to accept a deal less than the qualifying offer, but I still think someone gives him more.
C'mon. Bryce Harper isn't going to regret this. He's going to get nine figures with ease, even if it's not around $400 million like many are speculating.
Dallas Keuchel is an interesting free agent. He was the Cy Young winner in 2015 and very good in 2017. Last year, he was 30 years old and the season might have been the start of his regression. He was 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA (108 ERA+), 1.31 WHIP and 153 strikeouts in 204 2/3 innings. That's a scary-low strikeout rate in this day and age. Also, look at how this Astros' front office has been able to uncork potential in players like Charlie Morton and Gerrit Cole. Doesn't it scare you to think about Keuchel leaving whatever they've got going on? But what if he pitches like 2015 and 2017? Like I said, he's very interesting. I don't think he regrets this choice, but it's possible.
Nah, no worries here. Craig Kimbrel hits free agency in the best era ever for relief pitchers to get big money. He might not touch the Kenley Jansen (five years/$80M) or Aroldis Chapman (five years/$86M) deals, but he'll get something big for a reliever.
A.J. Pollock joins Keuchel and Grandal for me in the group where it was probably a tough situation, especially seeing what happened in free agency last offseason. He's entering his age-31 season and he has a decent-sized injury history. He managed just 112 games in 2017 and 113 last season. He hit .257/.316/.484 (106 OPS+) with 21 doubles, five triples, 21 homers and 13 steals. He compiled 2.5 WAR. He hit .233/.290/.410 after the All-Star break, too.
Pollock won't get close to $17.9 million in average annual value on his contract, but I'd bet he gets two or three years with a deal easily exceeding that total over the life of the deal. I could be wrong here, though. I won't be shocked if Pollock goes through a Mike Moustakas situation (one-year deal worth $5.5 million now with a $1 million buyout of his 2019 option).
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