Among the various professional sports, Major League Baseball is often looked at with some envy given the lavish contracts and more importantly, guaranteed salaries. However, if there’s one aspect of MLB free agency that sparks spirited debate, it’s the qualifying offer.
The system was first put into place for eligible free agents after the 2012 season. Any player who is set to become a free agent after spending an entire season with one club can be extended the qualifying offer.
The value of the one-year pact is taken by averaging the top 125 salaries in baseball from the previous season.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the qualifying offer for the 2017 season is expected be valued at $17.2 million, up from $15.8 million:
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
A previous estimation had the value of the qualifying offer for next season at $16.7 million. Once official, the increase will be the largest between two seasons. The previous high was the rise from 2013 to 2014 when the qualifying offer went from $14.1 million to $15.3 million.
Teams must extend a qualifying offer to eligible players within five days of completion of the World Series. Players have seven days to formally decide on whether they choose to accept or reject the offer.
While a player who does not agree to the one-year contract becomes a free agent, any signing team forfeits their highest unprotected draft pick, which in turn drives down the free agent’s value.
Last winter Brett Anderson, Colby Rasmus and Matt Wieters became the first players to accept the qualifying offer. The Los Angeles Dodgers also extended it to Zack Greinke and Howie Kendrick, both of whom rejected it.
Kendrick’s market wound up being significantly impacted by the fact that a draft pick was attached to him, and he ultimately re-signed a two year contract with the Dodgers.
Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner are among the players expected to reach free agency after 2016 and whom the Dodgers could extend the one-year deal to.
While the qualifying offer has been criticized, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred voiced his support of the system. It’s long been believed the MLB Players Association will seek reform when the current collective bargaining agreement expires Dec. 1, 2016.