The new free agent compensation system comes into play for the first time this winter.
With the first offseason under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement about to arrive, the qualifying offer amount for impending free agents has been set at $13.3 million, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports:
Qualifying offers for free agents will need to be $13.3M, it has been determined. #mlb— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) October 20, 2012
Under the new CBA, free agents are no longer categorized under Type A and B to determine the draft pick compensation a team will receive for losing their premier free agents. Instead, compensation is dependent on whether the team has made a "qualifying offer" -- a one-year offer for $13.3 million or more, as stated above -- for a free agent.
If the player in question turns down the qualifying offer, only then is the team eligible to receive a single sandwich pick at the end of the draft's first round. Complicating matters somewhat is that any team that signs a player who has turned down a qualifying offer will be forced to give up their top pick for the next year's draft. That pick simply disappears from the draft rather than go to another team, condensing the process. The top ten picks in the draft are "protected", however, meaning the teams with those picks will give up their second pick in the draft.
If no qualifying offer is made, then no one will receive or give up draft picks. The amount of the qualifying offer is determined by averaging the top-125 player salaries from the previous season.