The qualifying offer has been set for 2017, according to Fox Sports’s Ken Rosenthal:
Source: Qualifying offer this off-season will be $17.2M. System expected to remain in place in new CBA, with possible adjustments.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 13, 2016
Assuming the system stays the same under the new collective bargaining agreement, teams will have to offer their departing free agents a one year, $17.2 million deal in order to receive draft pick compensation between the first and second rounds next June. The club that signs a free agent who was offered a qualifying deal will have to forfeit either a first or a second round pick, depending on where they finished in 2016.
Prior to 2016, no player had accepted a qualifying offer. However, this left several high-profile free agents struggling to find jobs during the offseason. Last year, 20 players were given a qualifying offer of $15.8 million and had draft pick compensation/penalties attached to them. For the first time ever, three players (Matt Wieters, Brett Anderson, and Colby Rasmus) accepted, playing on a one-year deal and hoping to reenter the market with a stronger bargaining position. Alas, all three of them succumbed to poor play or injury, and figure to struggle on the open market this winter.
Whether that, and the $1.4 million jump of the offer, affects the number of offers tendered by clubs or the number of acceptances is up in the air, and much could still change as Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Union work to come to a new agreement. Certainly, the two sides will have to agree what the compensation will be before clubs have to decide whether to offer or not.
While $17.2 million seems pretty high, it’s worth noting that at least 46 ballplayers (including Prince Fielder and Josh Hamilton) will earn that much in 2017. That number should easily top 50 once the dust clears and players report for Spring Training. Looking at who is set to become a free agent, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, Justin Turner of the Dodgers, Mark Trumbo of the Orioles, and Jeremy Hellickson of the Phillies figure to be the easy calls to get a Qualifying Offer, as well as Yoenis Cespedes, if and when he opts out of his contract with the Mets.