It feels like a high stakes game of musical chairs when it comes to — should you take a
chair deal when the phone rings with an offer or keep circling around and hope the phone rings again and again with a better offer. Sure, there are plenty of spots for the top of the free agent market with Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, George Springer, and Marcell Ozuna. But what about the rest of the nearly 200 free agents who are now on the clock? Add to that the surprises as teams have tagged some of their top pending free agents with Qualifying Offers. Players like Marcus Stroman and Kevin Gausman are two players who could take a guaranteed $18.9 million deal based on the rules of the Q.O.
Who knows what Stroman and Gausman end up doing with those Q.O. offers, but what a great time to take the cash and re-enter the free agent market next year with no Q.O. hanging over your head. Of course to make out on any type of one-year deal is to have a great year as you are betting on yourself. Stroman just had dealt with injuries and had some questionable peripherals. He could take up a big chunk of the Mets off-season budget if he accepts that Q.O.
The following players will be extended $18.9M qualifying offers before the 5pm ET deadline, per source:
Trevor Bauer, Reds
Kevin Gausman, Giants
DJ LeMahieu, Yankees
JT Realmuto, Phillies
George Springer, Astros
Marcus Stroman, Mets
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 1, 2020
If the Nationals sign one of those six players with a Q.O., they would forfeit their 2nd round draft pick which is the early in the 2nd round as well as the Nats would forfeit $500,000 from their international bonus pool.
Expect the free agent market to open slowly because teams have not been able to talk to players on other teams until now. But this could be the year where budgets are smaller and lower level players go quickly. The Washington Nationals tied up one of their pending free agents already last week when they signed Josh Harrison to a new one-year deal.
Nobody wants to be the player like Jayson Werth after the 2017 season with no MLB deals or Yasiel Puig who never got a deal last season. Was Puig one of those players who turned down deals waiting for a better offer to come along and it never happened?
As always, the deals and the dollars spent will be judged in hindsight. Here is a listing of team payrolls prior to player benefits, 40-man costs, bonuses, and incentives. The Nats already have the 7th highest payroll in baseball.