Qualifying offers (QO) were handed out to seven impending free agents on Friday. For most, like Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper or Red Sox reliever Craig Kimbrel, declining their offers is nothing more than a clerical move. In fact, none of the seven players really have a great case to take the offer. They’re all expected to become free agents as scheduled.
In short, the goal of the qualifying offer is to compensate teams which have lost their marquee players in free agency. The full definition and rules can be found here. Generally speaking, if a player who was extended a qualifying offer signs elsewhere, his former team is awarded a compensation pick in the following MLB Draft. His new team also loses a pick; the round of the pick is determined by the size of the contract signed.
The qualifying offer system has been part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement since 2012, and, with the inclusion of the 2018 QOs, an even 80 players have been extended the agreement over the past seven seasons. Of the 73 players who were offered a QO before 2018, 67 — or 91.8 percent — have declined their respective offers. Just five players — Jeremy Hellickson, Neil Walker, Colby Rasmus, Matt Wieters and Brett Anderson — have ever accepted the qualifying offer. (Marco Estrada is the lone outlier; he was offered a qualifying offer in 2015, but he signed an extension with the Blue Jays before having to make a decision in either direction.)
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