For the first time in the four-year history of the new free agent compensation system, an MLB player accepted the qualifying offer; in fact, three did. But the bulk of free agents did not, with 16 of 20 declining the one-year, $15.8 million contracts from their old teams to instead hit the open market in hopes of more lucrative deals.
After all 34 players to receive qualifying offers declined them from 2012-2014, center fielder Colby Rasmus accepted his qualifying offer to return to the Houston Astros for 2016. But he wasn't alone.
Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters accepted the offer as well, telling Roch Kubatko of MASN, "I felt glad to be able to come back to Baltimore and in a clubhouse that I love."
Marco Estrada, instead of accepting or declining the qualifying offer, agreed to a two-year, $26 million contract to stay with the Toronto Blue Jays.
There were 20 free agents in 2015 who were extended a qualifying offer, seven more than in any of the other years with this system in place. That brings the total count in four years of the qualifying offer, a product of the current collective bargaining agreement between major league players and owners, to 54 players, with just three accepting.
Free agents who were extended the qualifying offer, an average of the top 125 salaries in MLB, had until 5 p.m. ET on Friday to accept or decline. This year's list of 16 free agents who will bring free agent compensation this winter:
- 1B , Orioles
- SS ,
- OF Cubs ,
- OF Alex Gordon,
- RHP Zack Greinke, Dodgers
- OF Jason Heyward,
- RHP ,
- 2B , Dodgers
- RHP ,
- RHP , Cardinals
- OF , Padres
- RHP Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals
Any new team signing these players will forfeit its first-round pick in the 2016. Should a team have a protected pick in the top 10, or if they already gave up a pick for signing another qualified free agent, they would forfeit their next-highest pick. The former team gains a supplemental draft pick as compensation, in between the first and second rounds.