Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE
In its first year as MLB offseason policy, every would-be free agent rejected his old team's qualifying offer. Why'd that happen?
The 2012-into-2013 MLB offseason is the first year of the qualifying offer—for a refresher course on what that is, please avail yourself of our qualifying offer cheat sheet—and on Friday the arbitration-replacement struck out in its first trip through the rumor mill. Eight players were offered the deals (not counting David Ortiz, who signed a two-year deal shortly after), and all eight—including the St. Louis Cardinals' Kyle Lohse—rejected them, becoming free agents. So what happened?
What happened is that—exactly as they were with arbitration—teams were incredibly conservative in handing out the one-year, $13.3 million offers. The Washington Nationals would have been happy to get Adam LaRoche back, and the Cardinals would have found a way to wedge Lohse back into the rotation, sure, but all nine players were vanishingly small risks to sign on for one year instead of looking for long-term money.
So the free agents will go on their way, and their technically solicitous teams will cash in draft picks in baseball's newly streamlined supplemental round. If the qualifying offer ever becomes something more than a mechanism for converting sought-after free agents into draft picks it'll be a few offseasons from now, when teams are assured enough in the process to take a risk.