Qualifying offers will be worth $15.3 million
While we wait for the Tigers’ end-of-season interviews and a better idea on how they plan to approach the offseason, a tweak to Major League Baseball’s qualifying offers to free agents could have an impact on the bottom line in a year when the Tigers have no-brainer qualifying offers to make.
According to The Associated Press, a qualifying offer to an eligible free agent will carry a $15.3 million salary, up from $14.1 million last year and $13.3 million the year before. The bump is the result of a rise in the average of the 125 richest contracts by average annual salary.
The Tigers have not made a qualifying offer under the current system. Just 22 free agents have had qualifying offers extended over the last two seasons, and none accepted them. This should be the year that changes, on both sides.
With Max Scherzer and Victor Martinez potentially sitting as the top pitcher and hitter on the free-agent market this season, the Tigers interested in re-signing one or both, and Detroit needing to restock its farm system, one would expect the Tigers will extend qualifying offers to both Scherzer and Martinez. Not only does that leave the door open for continued negotiations, it puts the Tigers in position to gain a draft pick or two near the end of the first round should either of them sign elsewhere.
In both cases, it’s a low risk move. While $15.3 million is a high price for a designated hitter, it’s a one-year offer for a 35-year-old hitter who is expected to look for at least a three-year contract on the market. Tigers people would jump for joy to keep Martinez on a one-year deal. With Scherzer in line for a five- or six-year deal, meanwhile, one year isn’t going to happen.
The last time the Tigers had free-agent compensation picks, they used the selections on current Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos and Chance Ruffin, who ended up becoming part of the package for Doug Fister. The picks were compensation for losing relievers Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney, both of whom qualified for compensation under the old collective bargaining agreement.