This is the fifth year of the qualifying offer system in MLB, and on Monday 10 free agents received qualifying offers from their 2016 teams.
Jeremy Hellickson, Phillies
Yoenis Cespedes, Mets
Neil Walker, Mets
Mark Trumbo, Orioles
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
Justin Turner, Dodgers
Ian Desmond, Rangers
Dexter Fowler, Cubs
Dodgers Turner and Jansen were two of those players, and both are locks to decline the one-year, $17.2 million deal. In what is considered a weak free agent market, Jansen and Turner rank at or near the top in several rankings.
- Jansen tops Grant Brisbee’s free agent rankings at SB Nation, with Turner fourth. Rich Hill, not eligible for a qualifying offer since he switched teams midseason, is fifth.
- Jansen is ranked fourth, Turner fifth in Ken Rosenthal’s top 10 list at Fox Sports.
- Jon Heyman at Today’s Knuckleball got the jump on the FA rankings with some contract guesses on Sept. 15, and he projected four years, $60 million for Turner and $50 million for four years for Jansen, though that latter number looks very low now. Heyman said himself on Oct. 18 that insiders are convinced Jansen and Aroldis Chapman would both surpass that number.
- MLB Trade Rumors revealed their top 50 free agent contract predictions on Monday, with Jansen and Turner both set for five-year, $85 million paydays.
In other words, Turner and Jansen are getting paid this winter.
In the first four years of the qualifying offer system, just three of 54 players (5.6%) accepted the offer. All three — Brett Anderson with the Dodgers, Matt Wieters with the Orioles, and Colby Rasmus with the Astros — accepted those offers last season, which helps at least partially explain why the number of qualifying offers decreased from 20 to 10 in one year.
Then again, this is a relatively weak free agent class, and the 10 players is more in line with the first three years of the system than with the outlier of 20 players after 2015.
Of the 53 free agents with qualifying offers to actual hit the open market, 13 returned to their old teams. Another -- Kendrys Morales in 2014 — waited until two days after the MLB Draft to sign elsewhere, thus the Twins didn’t have to forfeit a draft pick.
The Dodgers haven’t signed a player from another team with a qualifying offer attached in the first four years of the system, though last offseason in addition to Anderson accepting his qualifying offer, Los Angeles saw the return of Howie Kendrick on a two-year deal in February after seeing his market suppressed by the draft pick cost.
This marks the third straight offseason the Dodgers have extended at least one qualifying offer.
In 2014, Hanley Ramirez declined the offer and signed with the Red Sox, giving the Dodgers the No. 35 overall pick in 2015. That was used on Louisville right-handed pitcher Kyle Funkhouser, though he didn’t sign.
In 2015, Zack Greinke declined the $15.8 million offer and instead broke the bank with the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers got the No. 32 pick in the 2016 draft for Greinke, and used that on Louisville catcher Will Smith, who ended his first pro campaign in High-A Rancho Cucamonga.
The Dodgers also got the No. 36 pick for failing to sign Funkhouser the year before, so their delayed Ramirez compensation ended up being right-handed pitcher Jordan Sheffield out of Vanderbilt.
At the moment, the Dodgers pick 25th in the first round in the 2017 draft, but that will surely change depending on where the 10 qualifying offer free agents end up this winter, so stay tuned.
The 10 players above have one week to accept or decline their qualifying offers. The deadline is Monday, Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. PT.