Six players from this year’s free agent class were tendered qualifying offers by their teams prior to today’s deadline for making a qualifying offer: George Springer of the Houston Astros, Trevor Bauer of the Cincinnati Reds, J.T. Realmuto of the Philadelphia Phillies, Marcus Stroman of the New York Mets, D.J. LeMahieu of the New York Yankees, and Kevin Gausman of the San Francisco Giants.
Springer, Bauer and Realmuto are generally seen as the top three players in this class, and were seen as automatics to get the QO and to turn it down.
The other three players who got the qualifying offer, which allows a player to receive a one year, $18.9 million contract for 2021 if they accept, are more uncertain. Stroman missed this season while recovering from a torn calf muscle. The righthander is one of the top pitchers on the market, but the uncertain nature of the free agent market this winter, together with his having not pitched in 2020, would seem to make it likely that he would accept. Had the Wilpons not have sold the Mets to Steve Cohen, I’d have expected Stroman not to get the QO, but Cohen has vowed to be more aggressive financially, and thus seems prepared to bring Stroman back for $18.9M next year.
LeMahieu seemed like a nice if unexceptional player when he signed with the New York Yankees after the 2018 season, then exploded once he got to the Bronx, putting up a 922 OPS for the Yanks while accumulating an 8.7 bWAR in 195 games. At 32, with an uncertain market, he seems like a candidate to accept, and the Yankees have the financial wherewithal to bring him back at that price without blinking.
Gausman getting the QO is a big surprise. The former #4 overall pick has been up-and-down during his career, but after signing a one year deal with the Giants after 2019, he put up a 1.3 bWAR in 59 IP in 2020. He’s probably already accepted the offer.