MLB free-agent qualifying offer price jumps to $18.9 million

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of qualifying offers for Major League Baseball free agents rose by $1.1 million to a record $18.9 million.

Determined by the average of the top 125 major league contracts this year, the figure announced Thursday is based on full salaries, not the prorated pay that players received in the pandemic-shorted season.

The price had dropped last offseason for the first time, by $100,000 to $17.8 million.

Among the top players eligible for free agency are pitchers Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman, Liam Hendriks, Blake Treinen, Masahiro Tanaka, José Quintana and Alex Colomé; catcher J.T. Realmuto; outfielders George Springer and Marcell Ozuna; infielder DJ LeMahieu; designated hitter Nelson Cruz; and shortstops Didi Gregorius, Marcus Semien and Andrelton Simmons.

A qualifying offer can be made through the fifth day after the World Series, and a player has a week after that to accept. If a team makes a qualifying offer to a player who signs a major league contract with another club before the June amateur draft, his former club would receive a draft pick as compensation at the end of the first round or at the end of competitive balance round B. The placement depends on whether the new contract is worth $50 million or more and the revenue-sharing and luxury tax status of the team losing the player.

A free agent can be made a qualifying offer only if he has been with the same team continuously since opening day and has never received a qualifying offer before.

Qualifying offers began after the 2012 season, and only five of 90 offers have been accepted: New York Mets second baseman Neil Walker and Philadelphia pitcher Jeremy Hellickson after the 2016 season; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu after the 2018 season and Chicago White Sox first baseman José Abreu last season. Abreu later agreed to a $50 million, three-year contract.

The qualifying offer price started at $13.3 million in 2012 and rose to $14.1 million in 2013, $15.3 million in 2014, $15.8 million in 2015, $17.2 million in 2016 and $17.4 million in 2017.

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