Today it was reported from several outlets that the qualifying offer amount for pending free agents dropped from the 2018 figure of $17.9 million for a 1 year deal to $17.8 million.
Now, when you’re essentially talking about Monopoly money, a hundred grand doesn’t seem like a big deal. But this is the first time the qualifying offer ever dropped.
Now, since we’re still a website in its infancy, bear with me if this next part is a little remedial. The way the qualifying offer works is, they take the average of the top 125 contracts in baseball, and that’s your number. So even with the crazy amount of money given to free agents like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado this number went down. Now, to be fair, Mike Trout’s huge raise doesn’t go in until next year. His $20 million raise will bring the average up $160K, but we also have to see who rolls off the top 125 and who joins.
But here’s the basic function of the QO. If a team has the services of a player for an entire season, and he’s about to become a free agent, a team can make the QO. So Nick Castellanos isn’t eligible. The player then has the option of accepting the offer, at which case the process ends, or declining the offer. If a player declines the offer (see: Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis after 2017) and they sign elsewhere, the former team is entitled to draft pick compensation based upon market share and how much the player signs for.
The only Cubs player who is even worthy of discussion, even if that discussion is “Should we? No.” is Cole Hamels. Hamels got $20 million for 2019, and he doesn’t figure to get that much (or even the amount of the QO) as his annual salary next season. So the Cubs won’t offer QOs to anybody.
The only place where this matters to the Cubs at all is if they decide to go in on Gerrit Cole. A 28 year old pitcher with his already impressive resume is worthy of the Cubs breaking open the piggy bank. In fact, any team in baseball should have the hammer and piggy bank on the table. But we’ll get to that later on.
Back to the original point – the QO going down. Players have been cautious to not come out directly and accuse owners of 80s style collusion, but that’s basically where we are. Teams will throw out a gaudy contract or two, but wealthy owners (including the owners of the Chicago National League Baseball Club) keep turning their pockets inside out and crying poor despite major league baseball reporting record revenues as payrolls keep going down.
This all has the uneasy feel of a train that is running out of track, and we’re heading for a stoppage when this collective bargaining agreement runs out. This will not be good for the game.
Let’s wait and see how wrong I am.