MLB Free Agency

MLB’s free-agent class growing with big names declining qualifying offers

Ten free-agents received a qualifying offer from team’s around the league, giving players the option to play on a one-year contract for the upcoming season. So which players have declined the option and have entered the free-agent class?

The final decision whether or not each player was going to accept or decline their qualifying offer was set for Thursday at 2 p.m. ET.

The qualifying offer would lock the player into a one-year contract worth $17.8 million for the 2020 season. Among the 10 players with the qualifying offers, seven of them declined it.

Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner, Josh Donaldson and Marcell Ozuna will now hit free agency and be open to negotiations with any team on the open market as they’ve declined their former team’s qualifying offer.

The players may still re-sign with their former club, but if they decide to sign elsewhere, the former team will receive a draft pick compensation. The club that signs any of the seven free-agents listed above will forfeit a future draft pick.

Cole is the headliner of the 2020 free-agent class and will likely demand a contract north of $200 million. His success last season, posting a 2.50 ERA with 326 strikeouts to go along with his dominant run in the postseason will definitely be used to his advantage when negotiating a new contract. David Price’s $217 million contract for total value is the highest by a starting pitcher, but Cole could potentially shatter that.

Rendon looks to be the best position player on the free-agent market, and after coming off a postseason where he led the Washington Nationals to their first World Series title, a hefty payday is in his near future.

Strasburg’s coming off another solid season, plus his pitching efforts in October will add to the talking point that many team’s will be salivating over. He’d be the best pitcher in most free-agent classes, but this season he looks to slide right in underneath Cole.

Wheeler is another arm that will get tons of interest from teams looking to add young arms with electric stuff. He’s coming off a career season where he struck out 195 batters over 195 1/3 innings. His past injury history is concerning, but his upside is astonishing.

Bumgarner, 30, doesn’t quite have the stuff he used to, however, he still provides some quality outings. He struck out 203 batters with a 3.90 ERA last season, which is a down year compared to his recent past. Bumgarner will likely seek a multi-year contract as it could be his final time hitting free agency while being an upper echelon pitcher.

Donaldson took a one-year ‘prove-it deal’ last season and performed extraordinary well for the Atlanta Braves, crushing 37 homers and 97 RBI. While he is entering his age 34 season, he looked to find his groove last year and by doing so he’ll accumulate a much bigger market this offseason.

Ozuna will be a high priced power bat this winter, but with that also comes some of his fielding flaws. He produces consistent power year in and year out, averaging 28 home runs over the last four seasons. Ozuna will likely slot into a team’s middle part of the lineup, but will take top dollar to do so.

Ultimately, the seven players rejecting the qualifying offer will be among the most sought after free-agents this winter.

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