Qualifying offer set at $17.2 million, and here's which free agents should get one

Although the postseason is in full swing, it's never too early to look ahead to the free agent market. Thursday afternoon this winter's qualifying offer details were reported:

The QO is a one-year contract set at the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball. Last year it was $15.8 million. If a team makes their free agent the QO and he rejects it, they're then entitled to draft pick compensation should he sign elsewhere.

Last year Matt Wieters, Colby Rasmus, and Brett Anderson became the first players to accept the QO since it was established. It's worth noting baseball's new upcoming collective bargaining agreement could change the QO and the free agent compensation system, as Rosenthal mentioned.

Teams have until five days following the end of the World Series to make the QO. Players then have seven days to accept or reject it. The QO must be made to receive draft pick compensation. There are no loopholes. Also, only players who have been with their teams the entire season are eligible for the QO.

So, with that in mind, let's try to figure out which notable free agents will and will not receive the qualifying offer this winter. Just to be clear, this is all speculation.

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Bautista and Encarnacion will definitely receive qualifying offers. USATSI

Definitely Getting QO

Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
Yoenis Cespedes, Mets (assuming he exercises opt-out clause)
Ian Desmond, Rangers
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
Dexter Fowler, Cubs (assuming he declines his half of his $9 million mutual option)
Jeremy Hellickson, Phillies
Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
Mark Trumbo, Orioles
Justin Turner, Dodgers

The only one of these nine players with some shred of doubt surrounding his QO status is Desmond, mostly because of his poor second half. He was still an All-Star and took to the outfield very well, which I think is enough to get him the QO. After what happened last offseason, I imagine Desmond will seriously consider accepting it this time around. Everyone else here is in line to receive way more than $17.2 million this offseason. Maybe not annually, but in terms of total contract value.

Likely Getting QO

Wilson Ramos, Nationals
Michael Saunders, Blue Jays
Luis Valbuena, Astros

Ramos would have been in the "definite" category if not for his late season torn ACL, which could keep him on the shelf until June. I still think he gets a QO. Valbuena's an interesting one. He only played 90 games this year due to a hamstring problem, but he also smacked 13 homers with a 124 OPS+. The free agent third base market is very weak. It's Turner then everyone else. The Astros could try to capitalize on that by making Valbuena the QO, knowing he could be in line for something like three years and $30 million in free agency.

Unlikely To Get QO

Jason Castro, Astros
Bartolo Colon, Mets
Doug Fister, Astros
Kendrys Morales, Royals
Mitch Moreland, Rangers
Brandon Moss, Cardinals
Mike Napoli, Indians
Neil Walker, Mets
Matt Wieters, Orioles

Quality players, all of them, but not really QO material. Walker's season-ending back surgery really sabotaged his free agent stock. He was definitely a QO candidate before getting hurt. One-dimensional players like Morales, Moreland, Moss, and Napoli typically have to settle for short-term deals in free agency, and it's hard to see any of them passing up a guaranteed $17.2 million. They'd all accept the QO.

Walker likely would have received a QO had he not gotten hurt. USATSI

Not Getting QO

Matt Albers, White Sox (assuming $3 million option is declined)
Pedro Alvarez, Orioles
Brett Anderson, Dodgers
Alex Avila, White Sox
Matt Belisle, Nationals
Gregor Blanco, Giants
Joe Blanton, Dodgers
Blaine Boyer, Brewers
Peter Bourjos, Phillies
Emmanuel Burriss, Phillies
Drew Butera, Royals
Santiago Casilla, Giants
Brett Cecil, Blue Jays
Rajai Davis, Indians
Alejandro De Aza, Mets
Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies
Daniel Descalso, Rockies
R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays
Stephen Drew, Nationals
Mike Dunn, Marlins
Neftali Feliz, Pirates
Franklin Gutierrez, Mariners
Ryan Hanigan, Red Sox (assuming $3.75 million option is declined)
David Hernandez, Phillies
Luke Hochevar, Royals (assuming $7 million option is declined)
Matt Holliday, Cardinals ($17 million option will be declined)
Ryan Howard, Phillies (assuming $25 million option is declined)
Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks
Nick Hundley, Rockies
Chris Iannetta (assuming $4.25 million option is declined)
Austin Jackson, White Sox
Jon Jay, Padres
Chris Johnson, Marlins
Matt Joyce, Pirates
Dae-ho Lee, Mariners
Colby Lewis, Rangers
Adam Lind, Mariners
Boone Logan, Rockies
Javier Lopez, Giants
Jeff Mathis, Marlins
Kris Medlen, Royals (assuming $10 million option is declined)
Logan Morrison, Rays
Charlie Morton, Phillies (assuming $9.5 million option is declined)
Peter Moylan, Royals
Jonathon Niese, Mets (assuming $10 million option is declined)
Angel Pagan, Giants
Jake Peavy, Giants)
Yusmeiro Petit, Nationals (assuming $3 million option is declined)
Ryan Raburn, Rockies
Colby Rasmus, Astros
Sean Rodriguez, Pirates
Sergio Romo, Giants
Carlos Ruiz, Dodgers
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Tigers
Seth Smith, Mariners (assuming $7 million option is declined)
Geovany Soto, Angels
Drew Stubbs, Orioles
Kurt Suzuki, Twins
Junichi Tazawa, Red Sox
Edinson Volquez (assuming $10 million option is declined)
Jered Weaver, Angels
C.J. Wilson, Angels
Koji Uehara, Red Sox
Chase Utley, Dodgers
Ryan Vogelsong, Pirates
Jordan Walden, Cardinals (assuming $5.25 million option is declined)
Travis Wood, Cubs

This rather large group of players is pretty self-explanatory. They're not worth $17.2 million a year. Most won't get $17.2 million total across multiple years. There are a lot of rock solid players in that group, just no one who wouldn't take the QO in a heartbeat. Teams do not risk the QO with players of this caliber.

Not Eligible For QO

Erick Aybar, Tigers
Andrew Bailey, Angels
Joaquin Benoit, Blue Jays
Gordon Beckham, Giants
Carlos Beltran, Rangers
Michael Bourn, Orioles
Andrew Cashner, Marlins
Jhoulys Chacin, Angels
Aroldis Chapman, Cubs
Jesse Chavez, Dodgers
Chris Coghlan, Cubs
Coco Crisp, Indians
A.J. Ellis, Dodgers
Scott Feldman, Blue Jays
Jason Grilli, Blue Jays
Carlos Gomez, Rangers
Aaron Hill, Red Sox
Rich Hill, Dodgers
Tommy Hunter, Orioles
Edwin Jackson, Padres
Kevin Jepsen, Rays
Kelly Johnson, Mets
Mat Latos, Nationals
James Loney, Mets
Jonathan Lucroy, Rangers ($5.25 million option will be picked up anyway)
Mark Melancon, Pirates
Dioner Navarro, Blue Jays
Ivan Nova, Pirates
Steve Pearce, Orioles
A.J. Pierzynski, Braves
Alexei Ramirez, Rays
Josh Reddick, Dodgers
Fernando Rodney, Marlins
Marc Rzepczynski, Nationals
Fernando Salas, Mets
Joe Smith, Cubs
Drew Storen, Mariners
Brad Ziegler, Red Sox

These players all changed teams at midseason, making them ineligible for the QO. In most cases, that doesn't really matter. They weren't QO candidates anyway. The three big exceptions are Beltran, Chapman, and Melancon. Now that they're free of draft pick compensation, they don't have to worry about their markets being depressed by the QO. That's big for them and the teams that sign them.

Options Likely To Be Exercised

Jay Bruce, Mets ($13 million)
Clay Buchholz, Red Sox ($13.5 million)
Wade Davis, Royals ($10 million)
Yunel Escobar, Angels ($7 million)
Alcides Escobar, Royals ($6.5 million)
Jaime Garcia, Cardinals ($12 million)
Gio Gonzalez, Nationals ($12 million)
Jason Hammel, Cubs ($10 million)
Derek Holland, Rangers ($11 million)
Scott Kazmir, Dodgers (can opt-out of final two years and $32 million)
Cameron Maybin, Tigers ($9 million)
Pat Neshek, Astros ($6.5 million)
Carlos Santana, Indians ($12 million)
James Shields, White Sox (can opt-out of final two years and $44 million)

These players can all become free agents if their options are declined -- or, in the case of Kazmir and Shields, they exercise their opt-out clauses -- but I expect them all to stay put. You could argue some should be declined, sure. Garcia and Buchholz stand out. I think these players all stay put though. Besides, if any of them do become free agents, they're not QO candidates anyway.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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