How would you fix qualifying offers?

Rob Carr

The qualifying offer system doesn't help teams re-sign players and it kills the market value of a few mid-level free agents each year. What should MLB do to fix it?

Though Ubaldo Jimenez has signed, there are still several players out on the market feeling the sting of the qualifying offer. In particular, you have to feel a little bit bad for Stephen Drew, even if he is attracting some attention at last. He looked like he was on his way to becoming one of the top shortstops in the game after a breakout performance in 2010 but he ended up battling injuries that severely hampered his performance at the end of 2011 and through the first half of 2012. He then got shipped away from the organization that drafted and developed him late in the 2012 season and hit free agency without much hope of landing anything better than a one-year deal. He got that one-year deal with the Red Sox and became a key contributor for Boston as they marched their way from last place to a World Series Championship.

Drew was practically everything Boston hoped he would be in 2013. He hit .253/.333/.443, played solid defense at short and even though he didn't completely avoid injuries, he remained healthy enough to play 124 games. It was enough to endear him to manager John Farrell and to get the Red Sox to chance a qualifying offer, but at this point, it doesn't appear to be enough to land him a deal that reflects his potential value. He made the most of the pillow contract the Red Sox gave him and for his trouble he has been rewarded with a tour through qualifying offer purgatory.

Misguided as the concept seems now, the qualifying offer was created with noble intentions. It was meant to give teams a chance at hanging on to a key player or, failing that, to earn draft picks to make up for the loss. The teams benefiting are the richest instead of the poorest and while the offer has little effect on the top tier of free agents, it is clearly hurting the market value of the guys in the middle. Something needs to be done. How would you fix this mess?

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