The Tampa Bay Rays are likely to make a qualifying offer to pending free agent outfielder B.J. Upton, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times:
Most likely scenario: The Rays make the offer, Upton declines and hits the market, seeking a massive deal.
Topkin adds that Upton would then likely decline the Rays’ offer in hopes of signing a lucrative long-term deal on the free agent market. Whenever Upton would sign his new deal, the Rays would then receive draft pick compensation as a result of their qualifying offer.
The offer is for one year at $13.3 million, and it puts Tampa Bay in a tricky position. They certainly don’t want to pay Upton that type of money given their limited payroll. But if they don’t extend the offer they won’t be eligible to receive draft pick compensation, essentially letting Upton walk for nothing.
Topkin estimates that Upton has the potential to obtain a four-to-six year contract at $14 to $17 million per season on the open market. He adds big-budget teams such as the Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers as the "leading possibilities," along with the Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers.