The Washington Nationals had four players that everyone expected to receive a qualifying offer before the 2015 season began. With the season now in the books, the Nats actually gave that qualifying offer to just two of those four players: Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann. Doug Fister and Denard Span each looked like sure things before the season began, but the Nats didn't tender the $15.8 million qualifying offer to either player.
We discussed the players that the Nats decided on a few weeks ago, primarily focusing on Span. While I didn't make any definitive statement as to whether or not I thought Span would receive the qualifying offer, I was a bit surprised Friday evening when it was announced that he didn't receive one. Barring any setbacks or early indications that his recovery from hip surgery was going to be slowed, it seemed like the most likely outcome was that the Nats would give him the offer and that he would reject it. As discussed in the comments below that article, even if they gave Span a QO and he accepted it, it would have been unlikely to be a big overpay, and it would only have been a one year deal. The fact that two of the other free agent outfielders - Dexter Fowler and Colby Rasmus - who I would consider mid-tier free agents (much like Span) received qualifying offers added to the surprise of Span not getting one. While Fowler and Rasmus head into the offseason healthy, a healthy Span would certainly be expected to be atop that middle tier outfielder group.
We already know about the (now technically former) Nats players who have become free agents, though. Let's spend a little time today talking about the twenty players who did receive qualifying offers to see if one of them will finally be the first player to call his team's bluff and accept it. The 2015-16 offseason will be the fourth year that the qualifying offer system has determined free agent compensation. In the first three years under the qualifying offer system, exactly zero players have accepted the qualifying offer. Over the years, there have been a handful of players whose rejection of the qualifying offer seemed risky. At least a couple of those players have to regret turning down the qualifying offers they received.
- Stephen Drew turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer for the 2014 season from the Boston Red Sox. Six weeks into the 2014 season, he re-signed with the Red Sox for $10.1 million after no other teams were willing to concede a draft pick and sign Drew to the big multi-year deal he wanted. He signed a one year deal for $5 million with the Yankees last season. Over the past two seasons, he's earned just $1 million more than he would have in 2014 if he'd accepted the qualifying offer.
- In that same offseason, Kendrys Morales was tendered a qualifying offer by the Seattle Mariners. He rejected it and eventually signed a one year deal with the Twins after the 2014 draft once the pick was no longer attached to him. Six weeks later, the Twins traded him back to Seattle. In 2015, with no compensation tied to him, Morales inked a two year deal (with a third option year) with the Royals. In the past two years, Morales earned a grand total of $13.9 million, or about $200,000 less than he would have made in 2014 alone if he'd just accepted the qualifying offer in the first place.
Since 2011, Anderson has missed significant time with elbow issues resulting in Tommy John surgery; an oblique strain; a stress fracture in his foot; a broken finger; and a herniated disc in his lower back. Many of those injuries haven’t been arm problems, at least, and it’s possible Anderson has partially been the victim of flukes, but that long list is still a scary one.