Major League Baseball

MLB Qualifying Offer Set at $18.4 Million, Decreases From 2020

Salaries for baseball's highest-paid players continue to go down, a trend MLB has witnessed even before COVID-19 pandemic

What lowered qualifying offer means for Cubs, Sox originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Major League Baseball has set the qualifying offer for free agents this offseason at $18.4 million, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney — a $500K decrease from last offseason 

Teams can extend the qualifying offer, a one-year deal worth the average of MLB’s 125 highest-paid players, to their free agents. If the player turns it down, the team receives draft compensation.

The most significant aspect of this year's decrease is salaries of even the highest-paid players have gone down, following a trend throughout baseball in recent years pre-pandemic. The lower figure comes during a contentious negotiation for baseball’s next collective bargaining agreement.

And according to Olney, free agents have until Dec. 1 to accept a qualifying offer, if they receive one — the same day the current CBA expires.

The Cubs have no likely candidates for the qualifying offer this offseason. Kris Bryant, Javy Báez and Anthony Rizzo all would have been candidates if they weren't traded over the summer.  

The Cubs also already set the stage for staying out of the deep end of the free agent pool this winter. It’s not a leap from there for them not to sign players who reject the qualifying offer and therefore have to give up draft compensation.

Carlos Rodón is the White Sox' most likely candidate to receive the offer. After they non-tendered him last winter, he re-signed on a one-year, $3 million deal.

He set himself up for a multi-year deal in free agency this season after making the All-Star team in 2021. Rodón posted a 2.37 ERA, 0.957 WHIP and 185 strikeouts (all career bests) in 24 starts.

RELATED: Carlos Rodón: The answer to the Cubs rebuild question

Rodón's agent, Scott Boras, is known for taking his clients to the open market. Either way, he always was a candidate to test the open market, and, if anything, the lower-than-expected qualifying offer makes that more likely.

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