The process, which is explained here, makes sense in theory.
Team A's best pitcher is going to leave via free agency. Team A cannot keep their best pitcher for any reason, including no desire to, money, and non-contention. I think most would agree that Team A should still be compensated for when their player leaves through free agency; it isn't their fault.
So, when all set and done, Team A offers their player a qualifying offer and collects a draft pick when they sign elsewhere.
Good concept, right?
Teams are overusing the qualifying offer. Take the Padres, for example. Ian Kennedy was not their best pitcher. He wasn't their second-best pitcher either. Personally, I think he was their fourth-best pitcher.
Ian Kennedy got a qualifying offer.
Well, one might say, why doesn't Kennedy take the lucrative one-year deal?
Good question. There's a simple answer.
Kennedy wants long-term security. Sure, $15 or so million is hard to pass up, but players want guaranteed years. All baseball contracts are fully guaranteed. I'm 100% positive that Kennedy would rather have $13 or $14 million per season over four or five years than $15 million per season over one. He gets security. So, passing it up is plenty fair.
Now, Kennedy is hurting. Because if he signs with any other team besides the Padres, they have to give up a first round draft selection. This impacts his market and will almost definitely limit his value.
The system works for David Price, who made $217 million this offseason. It does not work, however, for Ian Kennedy and all other second-tier free agents.
How do we fix this issue?
There are plenty of ways to approach this topic, which will surely be of heavy debate when Major League Baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement expires this December.
One way it could be changed is by increasing its value.
Having been averaged from the top 125 salaries in 2014, the qualifying offer this offseason was $15.8 million, so it is not a big risk for teams if a player like Kennedy does decide to accept, especially in baseball's bullish free agent market.
However, if the qualifying offer was based upon only the top 75 or even the top 50 salaries, the team would be taking a much larger risk if the player accepted, thus limiting the power they have over their second-tier free agents.
If we took the top 75 salaries in baseball in 2015 (via Spotrac.com) and averaged them, you would be left with a cool $17.57 million, which is almost a $2 million jump from the current QO price. If you averaged the top 50, you get $19.83 million, a huge jump.
I think Ian Kennedy would be more likely to take a qualifying offer if it was $17.5 million. I also think the Padres would realize that and could not offer him one in the first place. But David Price? He's still going to test the market.
I'm not sure how likely this is to happen or if it will happen at all. Regardless, it is still interesting to think about and ponder.
Happy New Year, everyone.