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Qualifying offers must be accepted or rejected Monday

Monday’s Say Hey, Baseball recognizes the deadline for qualifying offer decisions, a Shohei Otani dinger, and recent free agent rumors.

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There were 10 qualifying offers submitted a week ago, and 5 p.m. ET Monday represents the deadline to accept or reject them. In the past, it was basically a foregone conclusion that every qualifying offer would be rejected so the player in question could explore free agency. As the value of the qualifier has risen — it’s now at $17.2 million — and lesser and lesser free agents were given one, we finally saw some accept it. Last November, Matt Wieters, Colby Rasmus, and Brett Anderson all took the offers and played on one-year deals.

This year, it doesn’t seem like anyone is a lock to accept the offer. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are looking for huge deals that could take them away from the Blue Jays. Yoenis Cespedes might be the top hitter on the market. Ian Desmond acquitted himself well in Texas and could move back to shortstop if necessary. Mark Trumbo led the league in homers, so even if what he’ll do in 2017 isn’t a guarantee, he’s going to get more than one year. Kenley Jansen might be the top free agent available, Justin Turner spent the last three years mashing, and Jeremy Hellickson is maybe the best starter in a weak class of them. Neil Walker is the only question mark, given his defense and the fact he underwent back surgery in early September. A $17.2 million guarantee to prove he’s healthy and worth more isn’t the worst idea.

The Mets and Walker haven’t discussed a long-term extension yet, either, with the former maybe waiting to see what happens with the qualifying offer first. Giving him the qualifier in the first place could slow his market somewhat, as teams might be loathe to give up a compensatory draft pick in exchange for someone who recently underwent back surgery, no matter how routine the procedure is these days. That could work to the Mets’ advantage here, but with every other free agent who was qualified, they’re likely in an enviable enough position that they can move on if they so choose.