A Very Simple Fix for the Qualifying Offer

Yesterday, Dexter Fowler re-signed with the Cubs, taking $13 million for one year, or $2.8 million less than he would have made had he accepted the qualifying offer back at the beginning of free agency. Along with Yovani Gallardo and Howie Kendrick, Fowler became the third QO-offered player to accept a deal that was worse than the one they passed up, and Ian Desmond seems likely to join them in that group when he signs as well. These four players were crushed by the draft pick compensation that the QO attaches, as teams were reluctant to give them long-term deals based on perceived risks with their skillsets, but also didn’t want to surrender a valuable draft pick for a short-term asset.

The qualifying offer has worked for MLB teams, driving down free agent prices by serving as a tax on salaries for a select group of players, but because it’s so regressive in nature — and is inequitably applied — it is highly unpopular, and will almost certainly be revised in some way in the next CBA. There have been any number of suggestions for how to amend the system; I suggested removing the seven-day acceptance window a few years ago, and Nathaniel Grow pointed out that the system could work better if it moved to a multi-year offer, instead of a one-year tender that players are loathe to accept before testing the market. There’s also a pretty rational argument that the system should just go away entirely.

But those are big changes. Big changes are difficult, and often have unintended consequences, so more frequently, people prefer to make tweaks rather than overhauls. So if we look at the current qualifying offer system, agree that it needs adjusting, but limit the potential solutions to things that would be easier to agree upon and wouldn’t be a dramatic shift from what is already in existence, is there a way to make it so that players like Fowler, Kendrick, Gallardo, and Desmond don’t get stuck in free-agent limbo after they learn that the market isn’t going to give them the long-term deal they were seeking?

I think there is. As we saw with Fowler’s desire to obtain an opt-out in the deal he was negotiating with Baltimore, players who don’t get long-term deals after turning down a QO shift their priority to wanting to get back on the market as soon as possible. Unfortunately for players like Kendrick, Gallardo, Fowler, and Desmond, teams don’t want to surrender a pick in order to just have a player for one year; the cost of surrendering that selection, and the pool money that goes along with it, are too high for most teams to justify without being able to amortize it over multiple years of expected value.

So what if MLB just got rid of draft pick compensation for one year deals? Under this scenario, any player who turns down the QO can, at any time, sign a one year deal with any team, and the signing team does not surrender a draft pick in order to sign the player.

It is, in some ways, an expansion of my idea to extend the qualifying offer out beyond the seven day window, though that still locked the player into accepting a deal from just one team, and put teams in a position where their offseason plans could be held hostage by a player who could blow up their budget or their depth chart by taking a deal after they had already moved on to other alternatives. In this scenario, instead of having the qualifying offer remain in place for the entirety of the offseason, players who tested the market and found it less exciting they had hoped would still be able to pivot into a short-term deal and try for a big contract again next winter.

For players at the top of the market, this wouldn’t change anything. David Price wasn’t taking a one year deal, and when you’re paying $230 million, giving up a pick worth ~$10 million isn’t a big tax on the price. All the guys who were going to get multi-year offers would almost certainly still get multi-year offers under this scenario, as the long-term value would still be in place to justify surrendering the pick. The big change would potentially be seen in the middle tiers of the free agent market, which is where the draft pick tax represents a significant portion of the price teams have to pay.

If teams could keep their draft pick by offering one year deals, we’d very likely see a shift towards shorter-term, higher-salary offers, and probably a pivot away from the multi-year deal with an early opt-out that we saw this winter. The incentive would then be on teams to get players who aren’t looking for 4+ year deals to settle for one year instead of two or three year deals, and with the removal of the draft pick tax from the cost, teams should rationally be willing to move some of that saved value into the player’s salary. If you value the pick you’d have to give up on a multi-year deal at $10 or $15 million, then it makes sense to give the player $5 million more in salary to get him to take a one year deal.

Overall, this would probably create a system where there was a dramatic difference in the annual average value of a multi-year deal versus a one year offer, so players would have to choose whether they wanted to maximize their salary or take a significant discount to get some security. Most players would probably still choose the security of a multi-year deal, as there are non-monetary benefits for the player’s families and lifestyle. But when a player found that the market wasn’t what they were expecting, they would no longer be trapped, unable to pivot to a short-term deal because of the draft pick compensation that currently exists.

If neither side has the appetite to tear up the existing system and start over — or just eliminate the system entirely — then a more minor change like this could help alleviate the situations that cause the most grief. Rather than having quality players sitting around while spring training begins, this change could create an opportunity for players to accept that the market doesn’t want to give them a long-term contract, and still sign an equitable deal that reflects their value on for one year. I’d prefer a larger overhaul of the system myself, and would be in favor of scrapping draft pick compensation entirely, but if a more minor change is desired, then something like this could solve the biggest issue with the qualifying offer system at the moment.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Brandon Warne
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Member
3 months 1 day ago

My idea is this: Set the QO value. If the player declines, and signs a deal with an AAV above the QO, picks changes hands. If the player signs under, no picks change hands.

It’s not perfect, but I think it’s better than what’s existing now. People will say it can be “gamed” but then you’re really needing players, agents and teams to be complicit in this “scheme” which I don’t think is very likely.

obsessivegiantscompulsive
Member
3 months 1 day ago

I like this idea. I feel that a lot of teams are attaching the QO to players who most likely aren’t getting a QO+ contract, that these teams are hurting these players market value when normally they wouldn’t pay that player the QO for one year.

My only worry is that signing teams could game this by signing for QO minus $1,000 (or something low like that). So maybe QO-$1M? Enough that the player who thinks he is worth more is not going to put up with losing that much. Another way to game it is to sign for under the QO plus include easy incentives that puts the player easily over the QO. Not sure how to fix that problem. Still, I like this idea.

The idea in the article about the signing team not losing the draft pick if it is a one year contract is good too. What it did not address is what happens to the team losing the player. Do they still get a pick anyway, since it is a supplemental?

Also, it would incent teams to sign for one year to avoid losing a pick, then sign the player to the long term deal later. Could even be a “trust me” deal, where in the spring, the team announces that they have a long term extension deal with the player, which they had already negotiated prior to the one year deal.

So a rule to add here might be that the signing team does not get to negotiate a long term deal with the player, the player must go into free agency period and is not allowed to sign for, say, a month. So even if a deal is done under the table, another team could come in and beat it, much like Greinke looked like he had to chose between LA and SF, and ended up with AZ.

Both ideas have merits but a team could game them, and I’m not sure there is a way to stop the gaming. Perhaps Dave’s original idea of extending the period beyond 7 days would be better and allow the players to talk with other teams. That would give players a better sense of the market demand for their services, so that they can make a better choice.

Though I’m starting to get the feeling that there will never be a “perfect” system, there will always be gaming going one (cuz we is humans…).

LHPSU
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LHPSU
3 months 1 day ago

I’ve suggested this in previous discussions, but maybe set it so that any team that matches the QO exactly (no incentives, options, etc.) does not have to give up a draft pick, so avoiding the loopholes.

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
3 months 1 day ago

I’m not fond of it, especially since a multi-year contract is much more valuable than a one-year contract for the same AAV. The QO was about $16MM this year. I don’t see a problem losing a draft pick if you sign someone to a 5 year, $65MM contract, even if the AAV is a few million less than the QO. Or even what Daniel Murphy signed for, or Gallardo almost signed for – that’s a big enough commitment to give up the pick.

I’d be more inclined to agree with the idea if it was 75% of the QO, or something along those lines. If you sign for less than that, then maybe the QO was really impacting your value.

Brian Cartwright
Member
3 months 1 day ago

How about if the total value of the contract if less than the QO, regardless of years? That could be a good compromise between 1 year with no restriction on money, and AAV.

DandreFalcon
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DandreFalcon
3 months 18 hours ago

Or they could raise the QO to around 18-20 million. Or just get rid of the seven day period to accept it. Why should the player on suffer because he’s tagged let these teams feel it to by using the tag. It’s only fair!

domxbomb
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domxbomb
3 months 1 day ago

Teams have gotten so good at extending their players prior to them hitting FA that I don’t think the compensation is as necessary to teams losing premier guys as it was back in say, 2002. Teams losing guys should get a compensation round pick after the first round with no one actually having to give up a pick. Thus teams wouldn’t have to factor in the value of their first pick for these guys.

If MLB is unwilling to do that then it becomes clearly obvious that the QO exists simply to hold down player salaries, and “competitive balance” is just a sham.

HappyFunBall
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HappyFunBall
3 months 1 day ago

I never really understood the necessity of compensation at all. The sort of player this applies to almost certainly earned their original club a tremendous amount of value during the low salary development years. The idea that “We spent all this time and money developing this guy, now someone else is going to reap the benefit” … is false. The original team got a great deal of benefit at a very low price, and someone else is going to have to pay real money for future production.

domxbomb
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domxbomb
3 months 1 day ago

Yeah I agree that compensation isn’t necessary at all. Parity has come a long way in the last 15 years and the draft pick stuff has outlived its purpose.

Teams should lose draft picks for breaking the rules, not signing major league free agents…

jimbo22s
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jimbo22s
3 months 1 day ago

The purpose of the draft pick compensation is to lower the player’s leverage and thus his price. It is a smokescreen if any team actually made a time and money for development argument.

Fillmore
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Fillmore
3 months 1 day ago

Yes, although your main point, that teams would put the money saved by not giving up a draft pick toward the player, would only really apply to teams that had not already spent their draft pick on a multi-year free agent. And even then, it would only work on one player per team. This would be effective at fixing the market as it is now, but you’re suggesting that it would give extra incentive to players to accept one-year deals, but that only works if there are enough teams who have not already spent their first pick. (Subsequent picks are less valuable enough that I don’t see them being a big difference maker.)

Tooele Dave
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Tooele Dave
3 months 1 day ago

One thing I don’t get about the current system is that all QO’s are the same. So, by definition, all players who are eligible to receive a QO are judged to have the same worth. Unfortunately I don’t have a solution to this, but it just strikes me as odd.

Nathaniel Dawson
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Nathaniel Dawson
3 months 1 day ago

Yeah, i’ve thought about this two, and a tweek they could consider would be allowing teams to set how much they offer to a player in a qualifying offer. Then tie the draft pick compensation (and forfieture) to the amount the team offered. Say, a $20MM QO would net the team a mid-first round pick, while an offer for $7MM may net something near the end of the second round.

Another tweek I’ve seen mentioned (and one I kind of favor) is allowing the team to keep the offer open for however long they wish, and compensation for that player (as well as forfieture of a pick) is rescinded if the team pulls the offer before the player signs.

Like with Washington and Ian Desmond. If the Nat’s still wanted for receive comspensation for losing Desmoond, they’d have to keep the offer open. Except by now, they probably wouldn’t want to have Desmond sign the QO, because it might mess up their already laid plans. In order to prevent Desmond from accepting that QO now, they would have the option to rescind the QO, which releases any team that might sign him from losing a draft pick. He’d have more marketablility, and Washington wouldn’t be stuck with a player they don’t want.

Unless they really do want him, in which case they can keep the offer open, and accept him back or receive a pick if he signs elsewhere.

Momus
Member
Momus
3 months 18 hours ago

Actually I like this idea a lot. The team can leave the offer open, and as long as it’s open there is a draft pick attached to signing the player, but the player also has the option of accepting the QO at any point. As soon as the team rescinds the QO, the draft pick penalty goes away. I think this solution has a lot of merit.

monkey business
Member
monkey business
3 months 9 hours ago

So, first this is mentioned in the article. But whatevs.

Second, the problem with this is that it would cause a sort of game of chicken where teams are hoping that the QO is rescinded. It would actually lead to more Desmond like situations because more teams would hold out the QO into spring training while the (eventual) signing team would be hoping that the QO would be rescinded.

You would have to get into dumb shit like a rule that you can’t go to spring training with a team if you have a QO that isn’t rescinded from another team. You would also see a lot of April 1st signings. It would mess a lot of stuff up.

Fayld
Member
Fayld
3 months 1 day ago

Honestly, I think a simpler fix is to make it so you can only QO a player who just finished his arb years. Similar to restricted free agency in football. After that, you can no longer QO a guy. I don’t like the idea that a team can slap a QO on a guy like Greinke. He has been in the league over a decade. At best, a team should only get compensated for a player just out of his arb years. Tagging anyone is just ridiculous.

obsessivegiantscompulsive
Member
3 months 1 day ago

Now this makes a lot of sense! The original idea of the QO is to provide some return to the team for losing a player of value that they developed. But that has been lost.

TKDC
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Member
TKDC
3 months 1 day ago

Would you limit the number of times a player could be tagged, such as just one year and then unrestricted, or allow the team to keep tagging the player until he rejects the offer?

TKDC
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TKDC
3 months 1 day ago

And would it apply to guys that signed extensions or only to guys that had just played out their arb. years?

magus711
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magus711
3 months 1 day ago

Sorry to nitpick, but I think you mean restricted free agency in basketball, not football. And also, even basketball’s system is not entirely like the one you mention.

In football you can apply a franchise tag to any impending free agent, not just those coming off rookie scale contracts. Where as in basketball, you tender an offer to gain the right to match an offer sheet form other teams.

williams .482
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williams .482
3 months 1 day ago

“Where as in basketball, you tender an offer to gain the right to match an offer sheet from other teams.”

You don’t see it mentioned nearly as much as the franchise tag, but the NFL has a very similar system in place for free agents with three or fewer accrued seasons. Wikipedia has a more detailed breakdown.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restricted_free_agent

magus711
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magus711
3 months 1 day ago

Thanks for the link and free education! I was unaware of the right of first refusal in the NFL, which appears to be very similar to restricted free agency in the NBA.

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
3 months 1 day ago

But to some extent, the arb players are hurt the most because it’s their first chance at free agency. For a guy like Greinke or Lackey, they had their chance at free agency and already signed their big contract. For someone who just finished arbitration, they haven’t signed a lucrative contract yet so it’s a bigger deal to them.

Daniel Murphy has made $18MM to date (almost half of which was last year). John Lackey has made $108MM to date. If we’re worried about a player being punished, first-timers are the guys that we should worry about – not Lackey.

j_co88
Member
j_co88
3 months 1 day ago

I think you would see a growth in 1-year large contracts under this scenario. Teams might offer 1-year $30 million deals that some players would take.

One way of tweaking your proposal is to take away draft-pick compensation for any 1-year deals that are at the QO amount or less. This would at least allow free agents to turn down the QO and still have an opportunity to get the QO.

I would suggest to make the QO open-ended, but to give teams the option of revoking the QO at any time if a player decides to accept it.

Moranall
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Moranall
3 months 1 day ago

All this does is hurt small-market teams, part of which the QO exists in the first place. The big money teams could just have a revolving door of one-year QO players since they can afford them. And since players receiving a QO tend to be above-average, this would be a huge benefit for those teams.

Orsulakfan
Member
Orsulakfan
3 months 1 day ago

I agree that this would be a likely outcome of this change. There would be a whole tier of players in the above-average range that would be signing for 1-year deals with rich teams, with no compensation to the poorer teams.

Slappytheclown
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Slappytheclown
3 months 1 day ago

Except there would be compensation to smaller market teams, in the sense that big markets teams pay a huge tax to outspend the cap or whatever it is in baseball.

Shane
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Member
Shane
3 months 1 day ago

I’m not sure that is how it would end up. Small market teams are probably more loathe to give up a first round pick, so they’re at a disadvantage of singing QA players. On top of that, every team has the ability to make a huge one year deal. Small Market teams can’t take a risk on long high money deals, so this might in fact increase their ability to sign good talent.

ginsugarland@gmail.com
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ginsugarland@gmail.com
3 months 1 day ago

All good answers and all miss the point. There is a line b/w owners/MLBPA. The line is the CBA. QO is a very small part of the CBA. Everything is a give and take on the line.

ryancc
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ryancc
3 months 1 day ago

So what happens to the team that put the QO on the player? Do they still get a draft pick if the player only signs a one year deal?

megaptera
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megaptera
3 months 1 day ago

How would a one-year deal with a player option be treated in this scenario? I could easily see teams offering that type of contract (backloaded to incentivize the player to stay) as a way of getting their desired FA without having to surrender a pick. We’ve seen teams handing out player options like candy this offseason, so it seems likely they’d be willing to give them out more often as a way of exploiting this system.

HappyFunBall
Member
HappyFunBall
3 months 1 day ago

You have to consider options as multiple years in that scenario. The signing team must offer a strict 1yr deal to evade the draft pick penalty. No options, no handshake extension agreements, no incentives beyond a certain agreed upon threshold.

grandbranyan
Member
grandbranyan
3 months 1 day ago

I like some of the ideas already mentioned by what if they made the QO binding through say the start of spring training?

Meaning, the player can decline and seek a multi year deal but if there isn’t one out there to his liking he can go back and accept the QO at any time before spring training begins.

I think in this scenario teams would be much more hesitant to make the QO in borderline cases because depending on the team’s specific situation it could really torpedo their whole offseason, both in terms of roster construction & payroll.

LHPSU
Member
LHPSU
3 months 1 day ago

Jan 1st might be a more realistic deadline, giving players a chance to explore the market while limiting the handicap that teams are placed under.

rosen380
Member
rosen380
3 months 1 day ago

I don’t recall who suggested– perhaps Tango– but what about tiered QOs?

The QO is set at $15.8M. Team offers:
* 3/$47.4M and gets the signing teams top unprotected pick
* 2/$31.6M and gets the signing teams 2nd best unprotected pick
* 1/$15.8M and gets the signing teams 3rd best unprotected pick

tz
Member
tz
3 months 1 day ago

Great idea!

HappyFunBall
Member
HappyFunBall
3 months 1 day ago

Runs afoul of problems when the signing team picks up 2+ QO players in the same year. Better expressed as:

The QO is set at $15.8M. Team offers:
* 3/$47.4M and gets a 1st round compensatory pick
* 2/$31.6M and gets a 2nd round compensatory pick
* 1/$15.8M and gets a 3rd round compensatory pick

jim fetterolf
Member
jim fetterolf
3 months 1 day ago

Biggest problem seems to be agents and players over rating their market value. QO was good money for the players in question and they made a mistake turning down the offer. If more iffy players accept the offers the teams will be less likely to make an offer over the value of the player.

LHPSU
Member
LHPSU
3 months 1 day ago

Because players should have the choice of not playing for a team they hate without being penalized unduly?

jim fetterolf
Member
jim fetterolf
3 months 1 day ago

Haven’t heard that hate is an issue, seems more about money and years. Good players get good contracts FA, in spite of QO, less good ones run the risk of not getting a good contract, or any one at all.

Perhaps no contracts at all would address the hate, baseball player being employment at will for both parties, player can walk with two week notice, teams can pink slip with brief notice.

Momus
Member
Momus
3 months 18 hours ago

Dear god, can you imagine the chaos? Halfway into a season there would be dozens of free agents. Trading would completely disappear. Every good player in baseball would be playing for the Dodgers… Who would probably win 130+ games on their way to sweeping through the postseason to an easy WS victory with their $400M annual payroll.

tfil05
Member
tfil05
3 months 1 day ago

The QO was really a mess this year. It seems to be getting worse every year and obviously it needs some tweaking. What would happen in your scenario if a team were to offer a player a 1-yr contract with multiple option years? Would they keep their draft pick or surrender it because of the added on option years?

tfil05
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tfil05
3 months 1 day ago

I see my question was answered above :)

curlin
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Member
curlin
3 months 1 day ago

Seems like this binary system where all QO are treated the same doesn’t make sense. The draft pick cost/compensation is the same for David Price and Dexter Fowler, but somehow Gerardo Parra gets a 3 year deal while Fowler has to settle for 1 because he happened to be good enough to get a QO and Parra wasn’t (i.e. Parra got more money primarily because he is a worse player … what?).

Is a tiered option too complicated? What if the team with a pending free agent had a few set designation options … something like:

To tie 3rd round cost/comp, the team must offer QO of 1 year deal for $10M
To tie 2nd round cost/comp, the team must offer QO of 2 year deal for $30M
To tie 1st round cost/comp, the team must offer QO of 3 year deal for $50M

If you want, maybe even a “star” tier where if you offer a 5 year $100M deal, the cost/comp becomes two 1st round picks (though maybe getting too complicated at this point with overlapping draft years, etc)?

Obviously the dollars are just off-the-cuff examples and would need to adjust over time based on rising salaries, but point being it becomes closer to a market-driven cost designation (vs the old subjective A/B classification). Wouldn’t something like this be much more equitable for all involved?

curlin
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Member
curlin
3 months 1 day ago

Oops, I see while I was typing something similar was suggested above…

theeiffeltower
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theeiffeltower
3 months 1 day ago

Price wasn’t eligible for a QO this offseason

TKDC
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Member
TKDC
3 months 1 day ago

This is true, but it didn’t really matter. Substitute Greinke for Price.

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC
3 months 1 day ago

I’d say if you sign a guy for a one year deal with a max possible payout of less than the QO, you lose a pick, but everything up to the 10th pick in the second round is protected. The 11th pick in the second round just isn’t worth all that much. And the comp pick is after the second round. It’s sort of an after the fact Type A, Type B system.

magus711
Member
magus711
3 months 1 day ago

The incentives are skewed more heavily toward the offering team, which I’m calling the “JA Happ problem”. JA Happ signed for 3 years 36 Mil, or AAV of 13 Mil. The Qualifying Offer was 15.8 Mil. If you can get pitchers even slightly better than JA Happ at about 2-3 Mil more and 2-3 years less, why wouldn’t you tender a QO? What does that say? It says the QO is not high enough to act as a disincentive to teams from tendering them to non-top tier players.

If the QO were something like 1 year 25 Mil, guys like Gallardo, Fowler, Rasmus, Weiters, Desmond, etc. would never get QO’s. And that seems to be the true problem. By changing the calculation method from the top 125 salaries, to something like top 75 or top 50, you’d would have a higher QO and also then expect to have QOs tendered more so to the originally intended set of top tier players.

jtmorgan
Member
jtmorgan
3 months 1 day ago

I think the goal of the QO is completely flawed. It should be more focused on retaining talent than getting compensation for lost talent. The team already got the most value out of the player than anybody could ever hope for going forward.

I don’t know how to accomplish it, but the scenario should be more focused on the result of Alex Gordon staying with the Royals than just giving out a pick that has future value. Outside of the top end guys how many of the QO guys were to players that the team had no intention at retaining at market rates.

Also as of now, the mid-tier guys who end up getting a QO attached suffer so much compared to if they were traded mid-season making them incapable of being offered a QO. How much more was Zobrist able to receive without a QO attached? Likely not a ton, but his market of interested parties was much larger thanks to not having to give up a pick to sign him.

Hank G.
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Hank G.
3 months 1 day ago

Dave, I realize that so are talking about security relative to other baseball options, but realistically, $15.8 million for one year is enough to provide solid middle-class to upper-middle-class security for the rest of one’s life.

It seems prudent for a borderline free agent to jump on the QO if it is offered. Unless he is a complete disaster, someone is still going to offer him $5-$10 the next year. The players aren’t really looking for security per se, but hoping for a winning lottery ticket.

Momus
Member
Momus
3 months 18 hours ago

Holy crap, what does “middle class” mean to you?! Even if we estimate that it would only be $8M after taxes you could still get about $500,000 a year of income for the next 50 years from that. That’s a lot more than middle class considering that only about 5% of American households have a combined income over $200,000

stuck in a slump
Member
stuck in a slump
3 months 1 day ago

First of all, I still don’t understand the issue. If you’re a bubble player, you need to be accepting the QO and hope you play at a similar level next season. If you do, you can earn in two years what you might have gotten on a three year deal. Teams will stop giving these fringy players QO’s if they start accepting them. I think that this year’s group of players finally taking the QO will shake things up enough that teams might think twice about doling them out if they could get stuck paying 16 million for a guy that has a good chance to under perform.

Now, with that said, perhaps there should be some changes in the system. Perhaps smaller market clubs, teams that must rely on their ability to draft and trade because they can’t rely on being able to sign free agents, shouldn’t lose their picks. Perhaps the protected picks should be the ten bottom income teams. The losing teams will still get a compensation pick, but these smaller market clubs will be incentivized to look at the FA market harder. This would still depress values for free agents, especially the fringy bubble guys, but hopefully it encourages teams to make upgrades where they need to to keep them competitive. Let’s face it, Boston doesn’t need a protected pick, because in theory, they have enough money to sign any free agent that they’ll ever need. In this situation a team like Tampa Bay or Cleveland could sign any FA’s that they wanted and never have to surrender a pick to do so, which should help them from being completely hamstrung by a FA contract gone bad.

Another thought would be that no team ‘loses’ a pick, instead their first pick is now a comp pick and the team that lost the QO free agent, then adds a pick where the signing team would have normally picked. So let’s say that Cleveland signed Dexter Fowler to fill their OF need. It’s a signing that makes a ton of sense, but was never going to happen because Cleveland’s 14th pick is vulnerable. Cleveland would give Washington their 14th pick, and would gain a comp pick, drafting some where between 25-34 instead. So while it still hurts, and it would make QO FA’s more affordable for lower income teams and they don’t lose the pick entirely for signing the player.

Spa City
Member
Member
Spa City
3 months 1 day ago

Why should the signing team lose a draft pick? If the goal is to compensate teams that make a good-faith attempt to re-sign a player they developed, then why not just provide them with a compensatory draft pick between the first and second rounds of the draft… without the signing team losing their draft pick at all?

Wouldn’t this solve 100% of the perceived problem?

tfil05
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tfil05
3 months 1 day ago

Because then everyone would get a QO

Paul22
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Paul22
3 months 1 day ago

No, they wouldn’t, because the penalty has no impact on the team who makes the QO. Something in the water maybe.

tfil05
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tfil05
3 months 1 day ago

Sorry I should’ve elaborated more.

If there is no penalty to signing a player with a QO, then more teams will be willing to sign these players. If more teams are willing to sign these types of players, teams will take a more of a chance in giving players QOs, and to a larger variety of players. The amount of supplemental picks would be too large IMO.

Maybe if they increase the price of a QO, while eliminating the penalty for signing someone with a QO it could work. Bump it up to 20 mil to find the balance where the more elite talent is offered the QO, while middling talent is no longer offered QOs to avoid the steeper price and risk

Paul22
Member
Paul22
3 months 1 day ago

Yeah, but for some reason people can’t see this. Maybe cause the penalty is the most important factor to keep salaries down, which is The QO main purpose.

I’m Ok with compensation cause it does not harm the player, but they got 6-7 years of team control with millions of surplus value while paying minor leaguers as little as 3100 a year. They really don’t even need this. Also, why does a team get a compensation pick after signing a player on a 2-3 year deal, and why should any player be taxed twice (penalty) when he is a FA for the second time

Shauncore
Member
Shauncore
3 months 1 day ago

Right. This is my same thought.

Why does a team have to be penalized for signing a player?

The idea was to reward/compensate smaller market teams who couldn’t afford to extend or re-sign some of their players, but was it to also punish the team that signed that player? I don’t think so (but I could be wrong).

Why not just give the original team compensation…

redsoxu571
Member
redsoxu571
3 months 1 day ago

Why not just have compensation tied to the contract the player receives, as in the NFL? Nothing determines how much a player would have been worth to the team he is leaving than what another team is willing to pay said player.

Paul22
Member
Paul22
3 months 1 day ago

Just get rid if the draft pick penalty. Why is this so hard to understand. Compensation is not the problem. Its the penalty.

KCDaveInLA
Member
KCDaveInLA
3 months 1 day ago

As we know, if a team signs a free agent now, they lose their first round pick, regardless of the timeframe (up to the deadline the next summer). Let’s create shorter timeframes that once they expire, lessen the impact on the team that signs the free agent, and might not leave a player in limbo for long periods of time. Example: If Dexter Fowler had been signed within 1 month of the free agent period, the signing team loses their 1st-rounder. If there is still no market after that one month, the compensation drops to losing a 2nd-rounder. And so on…it would cause the most desirable free agents to go first, and the next tiers of free agents can follow suit with more appropriate compensation to the team who extended the QO. The market can still unfold and determine just how much a player is worth without a high draft pick suppressing his value all throughout the offseason. There may come to be feeding frenzies at month end, but the overall value the team pays and the player receives might be more balanced.

bjsguess
Member
Member
bjsguess
3 months 1 day ago

I would expect that this would primarily serve to simply shorten the FA window. Guys like Fowler wouldn’t be signing until Feb/Mar … and there would be a glut of them.

The other thing that could happen is that even top players may defer signing deals, pitching to teams the concept that they would rather maximize their earnings than signing early. By delaying their signing they are saving the team a top draft pick and they expect a portion of that savings to be returned to them in the form of a higher contract.

bjsguess
Member
Member
bjsguess
3 months 1 day ago

Whatever happens we need to figure out how to get rid of the biggest flaw in the entire system.

The stated goal here is to create parity. As a result, the worst teams should feel the least amount of pain by acquiring new top shelf talent. That is recognized by protecting the first 10 picks. However, that approach takes a 180 once you get to the 11th worst team. That team is SEVERELY punished by signing a QA FA. Doesn’t seem fair when the team with the best record in baseball upgrades their squad but only loses a significantly worse pick – way back at pick 30.

If you wanted to stick with a system that is similar to today you could see something like (using reverse standings):

Teams 1-10 – lose their 4rd round pick when signing a QA FA
Teams 11-20 – lose their 3rd round pick when signing a QA FA
Teams 21-30 – lose their 1st round pick when signing a QA FA

The other thing I would do is have teams that acquire more than one QA FA in a single off-season lose their next season pick as well. Right now, smart teams are stacking their signings. Once you lose your first pick, the 2nd pick isn’t as hard to swallow. Under this plan, if you were the 15th best team and you signed 2 QA FA’s you would lose the 3rd round pick this year and the 3rd round pick next year. If you wanted to be really punitive to top teams you could have this only apply to teams that were in the bottom 2/3rds.

bjsguess
Member
Member
bjsguess
3 months 1 day ago

… and by bottom I really mean teams that had the best 10 records – or the bottom of the reverse standings.

`Gareth
Member
Member
`Gareth
3 months 1 day ago

“when a player found that the market wasn’t what they were expecting”
or
his agent and advisor has unrealistic expectataions

Johnston
Member
Member
Johnston
3 months 1 day ago

I love the QO system and it is working as designed.

rustybob
Member
rustybob
3 months 1 day ago

Way late to the discussion, so probably nobody will read this…

Anyways, I think in the next CBA there could be a way that the qualifying offer could stay as is, and self-correct the market with one small tweak. Set the qualifying offer at the average value to the top 100 players instead of the top 125 as it is right now. We’ve seen MASSIVE inflation in contracts over the last few years, and especially this year. By going by the top 100 players, the qualifying offer amount jumps considerably. I don’t think as many marginal players would get offered it anymore.

However, I can see unintended consequences as well. A team like the Dodgers wouldn’t bat an at a higher qualifying offer number. But smaller market teams might have a tougher time with the higher figure. But on the other hand, if the player is so valuable to the franchise that you would want to offer them the qualifying offer, you should do it, big or small market. I think small markets teams should view a potential benefit of them accepting a high qualifying offer number: they get to keep a player they want on a one year deal. And they can keep on offering the qualifying offer perpetually, as far as I know. I would say there’s less risk paying someone important to your franchise a fairly high one-year price, rather than a long term deal that could turn ugly at some point. Going year-to-year, you can cut bait when they start to decline, or have a replacement ready in the minors.

Domingo Ayala
Member
Domingo Ayala
3 months 1 day ago

What if the signing team just lost a second round pick instead, and the team who lost the player would still gain a first round compensation pick? This seems to help all parties involved. I think the difference between a first and second pick would be pretty significant.

shampain
Member
shampain
3 months 20 hours ago

As others have noted the proposed solution isn’t actually that simple because it will dramatically change incentives. We’ll end up with 5+ year deals and 1 year deals and nothing in between, which doesn’t strike me as an obvious improvement.

The real issue here is that draft picks are *far* more valuable than we believe. That’s because draft pick values are typically calculated by the stat community in terms of cost + expected WAR. But that kind of model implicitly assumes that there’s an infinite stream of WAR out there that teams can just dip into any time they please.

That’s not the case.

Teams have gotten very good at extending their own players and there are pretty strict caps on spending in the draft and international markets, so it’s actually a supply problem rather than a demand problem. There are only a small handful of players in next year’s FA class that are good enough to improve a winning team, and some of those may yet be extended. Losing a first-round draft pick means losing not only the pick but the ability to spend the slot money, which could actually mean losing more than one player (and/or dramatically lowering the talent you can acquired with your remaining picks). And you can’t make up for that any other way once you hit your int’l FA caps, because the domestic FA market sucks.

Why would you do that for any player that projects to be league-averageish? It makes no sense. You only do that if you are at a particular spot on the marginal win curve and you think the FA will be at least a 2-3 WAR upgrade.

Statyllus
Member
Statyllus
3 months 13 hours ago

Yeah, your solution is “simple” alright. It completely misses the point of compensation for teams – especially the small and middle market teams – that cannot compete for high cost FAs. Your so-called fix only addresses player concerns. The really simple fix is to return to a classification or ranking of the FAs based on the last 2 years of production and age. In this way, a team would receive less compensation for an aging declining performance FA than it would for a high performance younger player.

The QO amount would remain the same for all players and remain a one-year offer. However, for lower ranked FAs the draft pick would be no higher than the 40th draft pick – just as an example. The other change would be that high revenue teams would have to leave their QO on the table until the FA actually signed with another team or accepted the QO. This will force the wealthier teams to really think before offering a QA. These teams would likely drive to a multi-year contract if they really wanted the player rather than freezing a huge chuck of payroll for a player they really didn’t want. In all cases this year, Fowler, Desmond, etc. these players could have accepted the QO once they understood the market.

adlenon
Member
adlenon
3 months 9 hours ago

One of the biggest problems with the qualifying offer system is that it handcuffs the small market teams and empowers the mega market teams. The four players mentioned come from the Dodgers, Cubs, Nationals, and Rangers. In prior years, Stephen Drew was QO’d by the Red Sox and Morales was offered by the Mariners. You will rarely see players trapped in QO limbo due to a small market team. What that tells me is that the teams do not all operate on the same playing field.

The intention of the QO system was certainly not to have 25 guys receiving offers. Creating a system to limit the “damage” of the QO to the players mentioned above continues to empower the large market teams to play by a different set of rules, albeit, with some additional risk.

A few options as an alternative could be:

Note: Any combination of these could be used together.

1) Limitation of QO’s to 2 every six years (consistent with player control). The idea is that a team develops a player and loses them to free agency, not signs them to a year deal and hangs a QO on the way out. With 2 every six years, the team has to consider the risk of offering a QO against being able to offer it again down the line. Do the cubs offer a QO to Fowler (who might accept) and have no offers remaining when Arrieta, Rizzo, and Bryant will become free agents in the next six years

2) Limitation of QOs to players reaching free agency after their final arbitration year, never for players signed as free agents.

3) Larger commitment from the team. Rather than a 1 year 15.8 million contract. The contract is for 4 years at 15.8 per. This would be set at a rate where the top level free agents will never accept, but the guys currently caught in QO limbo would never decline. This would then assume the teams are all treating the system the same. Even the Reds would have been willing to offer that to Joey Votto had he not been extended and not even a team like the Dodgers would risk offering a four year deal to Kendrick for a chance at a pick.

monkey business
Member
monkey business
3 months 9 hours ago

For Desmond I think it’s possible he basically just wan’t going to sign with the Nats after the 105/5 deal was off the table but that he is also just not worth that much to other teams ($5-10M?) and maybe it’s just the end of his career anyways. If I as a GM I would only sign Desmond if 1) by batting or fielding coach could convince me they could fix him, 2) I could get him for a long low rate (15/2 with a team option or play time deal for 20/2 more?). I doubt he wants this type of offer.

David B
Member
David B
2 months 29 days ago

Here’s my fix: players are only allowed to receive a qualifying offer once in their career.

So a player can (i) choose to accept the QO (which is essentially a fourth year of arbitration – or fifth for Super Two players), return to their team for one more year, and then hit the free agent market without any draft pick tied to them or (ii) reject the QO and be subject to the limitations that come with being tied to draft pick compensation.

The primary purpose of the QO system is to support competitive balance. It does so by (i) providing teams with the opportunity to keep a player for one more year, (ii) depressing free agent salaries, and (iii) compensating teams for free agent losses through the addition of a draft pick. I my proposal strikes the right balance: guys like Fowler, Gallardo, Howie Kendrick, Ian Desmond can accept the one-year $15.8 million offer (almost like an extra year of arbitration) and then hit the free agent market the next year without any restrictions (and without the team that loses them receiving the benefit of a draft pick). The guys like David Price and Jason Heyward can decline the offer and hit the open market, but the teams that lose them receive the comp pick.

In summary, it basically becomes an extra year of arbitration for some but not all. If a player chooses to take the extra year of arbitration, a team ultimately can’t receive the benefit of the draft pick once the player hits free agency. If a player declines the extra year of arbitration, the team losing the player receives the extra draft pick (while the team signing the player forfeits its pick).

Lanidrac
Member
Lanidrac
2 months 29 days ago

This is a pretty good idea. I take it the old team still gets an extra pick in the compensation round either way, right?

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