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The qualifying offer is screwing up free agency again

Thursday's Say Hey, Baseball includes more compensation ridiculousness, #BaeRod and the best middle-of-the-orders in baseball.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

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It's Jan. 28, but thanks to the qualifying offer, there are still free agents available who could help a team. And not like, help off the bench, or fill out the back-end of a rotation: there are legitimate starting players who could not only fill a hole but also produce at above-average levels still out there looking for work. Teams aren't keen on giving them deals, though, because then they'll have to forfeit a first-round pick. So, Dexter Fowler, Howie Kendrick, Yovani Gallardo and Ian Desmond are all just sitting and waiting for someone to eventually crack, hoping that it doesn't take until the season is already two months over for it to happen.

This was not the goal of free agent compensation. As Christopher Crawford tweeted on Thursday morning, the system should compensate teams for losing players, but not do so in a way that punishes those players. Teams are afraid of giving up draft picks in this era of efficiency, and that means they're afraid to improve now by adding the likes of Fowler or Kendrick or whomever. This is just flat-out silly, given what those players can provide to a team already in contention or on the bubble or even one who doesn't expect to compete for another year or two.

As more and more players receive a qualifying offer, there will only be additional free agents sitting around leading into and during spring training, hoping for someone to admit sacrificing a pick is worth it to improve now. This system needs an overhaul in the next collective bargaining agreement, which conveniently enough, needs to be collectively bargained by the end of this year. Whether there will be a change is another question, but you have to think the Players' Association will be all about making it easier for their guys to be employed.