Qualifying offers shouldn’t stand in the Marlins’ way
By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd
MLB’s free agency tends to be a bit more complicated than simply signing players.
Sunday was the deadline for all clubs to either extend or not qualifying offers to their own free agents. This impacts several potential targets for clubs like the Miami Marlins. For example, qualifying offers were made by the Reds to Nick Castellanos, the Mets to Michael Conforto and the Dodgers to Chris Taylor. These are three players who fit what the Marlins are seeking.
Conversely, they weren’t to Starling Marte, Avisail Garcia, and Eduardo Escobar others who might be on Miami’s radar.
To the average fan, what does this mean?
For players like Castellanos, Conforto and Taylor and others, they have a standing one-year, $18.4 million offer on the table by their 2021 clubs. If they accept, they return to their previous club. If they reject, they become free agents. If they sign elsewhere, the original club receives 2022 draft pick compensation.
Players who have been extended QO have until Nov. 17 to make their decision.
For Marte, Garcia, Escobar and others in the non-qualifying offer group, they are now free agents with no strings attached. They can sign elsewhere with their signing club not obligated to give any compensation.
Traditionally, the Marlins have stayed away from signing players who have received qualifying offers. In recent years that made sense, because the club wasn’t ready to seriously contend for a playoff spot. Instead, they were focused on building up their farm system, which was the right call.
Now that the Marlins have starting pitching that is performing at the MLB level, and the system is stronger, the focus is on adding proven impact players to the big league roster.
As the Marlins prepare for 2022, their ownership is on record saying they intend to be active in the free agent and trade markets to advance their building process. How active they will be, and how free spending they will be, remains unclear.
My sense is they will remain fiscally cautious, but are open to a big splash signing, if it makes sense. From our ManOn2nd read, Marlins’ fans, set your sights lower than Carlos Correa and Corey Seager or anyone else projected in that 10-year, $300 million range.
In that $50 million to $100 million range, we believe the Marlins are open to making such a big-splash move.
Followers of ManOn2nd know we’ve long made our top target for Miami clear. Castellanos, 29, would be our first priority. With the Reds in ’21, the South Florida native hit .309 with 34 homers. We feel the Marlins, at minimum, will check in with the Castellanos camp. Yes, we know he’s represented by Scott Boras.
But whether the Marlins are all in on Castellanos or Conforto or Taylor, the issue of the qualifying offer will come into play.
Should the Marlins sign a player who has been extended a QO? If so, they would lose the draft pick.
If the player signs for more than $50 million, the compensation would be their Competitive Balance Round A (which follows the first round). If the player signs for less than $50 million, they would surrender their Competitive Balance Round B selection (which follows the second round).
The Marlins are among the 13 teams who qualify for Competitive Balance picks.
Important to note here: The Marlins would not lose their first overall pick, which pick sixth overall in the ’22. They would retain that pick, even if they lost a later-round draft choice.
If they have a chance for a real impactful middle of the lineup batter, the draft pick compensation should not stand in the way. The Marlins internally feel they have plenty of supporting players on their roster and in the organization. They need to infuse more proven impact.
What this might mean is the Marlins may not go after two or more players who reject their qualifying offers. That would mean, Miami would lose multiple picks.
These are some of the questions Marlins’ management must address entering the Hot Stove season.
Exactly when should we expect major signings? For the top free agents, it likely will be after a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached, whenever that is. The current deal expires on Dec. 1, and negotiations will likely go down to the deadline.
Trades could be more likely, at least between the GM Meetings and the Winter Meetings. ManOn2nd will tackle trade talks on another day.