The Washington Nationals had until 5:00 PM this afternoon to make decisions on whether or not to make qualifying offers to Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond, Denard Span and Doug Fister.
If they made the offers of a 1-year/$15.8M deal, the players then had one week to decide whether to accept them, which no player has under the current system, and return in 2016, or decline them, in which case the Nats would receive compensatory picks in this coming June's draft. The decisions weren't necessarily easy.
Zimmermann, 29, was coming off a (13-10) season in 2015 in which he put up a 3.66 ERA (which was a run higher than his 2.66 ERA in 2014), a 3.75 FIP (up from 2.68), 39 walks (1.74 BB/9) and 164 Ks (7.32 K/9) in 201 ⅔ innings pitched, over which he was worth 3.0 fWAR (down from a career-best 5.3 fWAR campaign in 2014).
Desmond, 30, struggled throughout the first half of his seventh major league season, but managed to pick things up in the second-half, hitting 27 doubles and 19 home runs total on the year in 156 games and 583 plate appearances, and finishing the season at 1.7 fWAR (down from 4.7, 4.8 and 4.0 in the previous three seasons) with a disappointing .233/.290/.384 line on the year.
Fister, 31, struggled with injuries and eventually ended up in the Nats' bullpen in his second season in Washington following a trade from Detroit the previous winter.
On the year, he put up a 4.19 ERA, a 4.55 FIP, 24 walks (2.10 BB/9) and 63 Ks (5.50 K/9) in 103 IP, winning just five games (5-7) overall after a (16-6) season in D.C. in 2014 in which he put up a 2.41 ERA, a 3.93 FIP, 24 walks (1.32 BB/9) and 98 Ks (5.38 K/9). He finished the year at 0.2 fWAR, down from 4.2 and 1.4 in the previous two seasons.
Span, 31 as well, struggled with injuries, and after offseason surgery, was forced to undergo another procedure during Spring Training and was eventually forced to shut it down with a lower back issue.
In his third season with the Nationals, he played a total of 61 games, putting up a .301/.365/.431 line over 275 PAs and finishing at 1.4 fWAR after 3.4 and 4.0 fWAR seasons in his first two years in Washington.
He then underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip which could delay the start of his ninth major league campaign.
So who would get qualifying offers?
Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman on Thursday that the decisions were already made and he hadn't ruled out the chance of retaining a free agent.
This afternoon, according to multiple reports, the Nationals made qualifying offers to Zimmermann and Desmond, but not Fister or Span:
#Nats announce they've extended qualifying offers to Zimmermann and Desmond. Span and Fister don't get them.— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) November 6, 2015
.@Nationals extend $15.8M qualifying offers to INF Ian Desmond, RHP Jordan Zimmermann.— MLBRosterMoves (@MLBRosterMoves) November 6, 2015