The Qualifying Offer can be a little confusing as it muddles the free agent waters early in the MLB offseason. With Thursday’s decision day looming, here’s a look at what the Minnesota Twins stand to gain or lose based on the outcome of those choices.
They have an offer extended to Jake Odorizzi. If he agrees to it, they’ll have Odorizzi back in 2020 as part of their starting rotation earning $17.8 million. In practice, he’d then earn his free agency the following winter.
If Odorizzi says no, it’s slightly trickier. He then becomes a free agent but the Twins would stand to gain draft-pick compensation. If he signs for $50 million or more BEFORE next June’s draft, then the Twins would get a 2020 draft pick immediately following the first round (somewhere in the 30’s overall).
If he says no and signs elsewhere, but the contract is less than $50 million in real dollars, the Twins’ compensation would be in the form of a draft pick following immediately before Round 3 of the June draft. If he says no and signs elsewhere, but not until AFTER the June draft, the Twins will get nothing.
Note: It’s my understanding that those draft picks also come with the increase in bonus pool money able to be paid to draft picks, which could be a couple million dollars for a draft pick in the 30’s, for example.
And the last thing tied to Odorizzi that they could “gain” is the financial flexibility to free up $18 million for other pursuits.
The other thing that the Twins stand to gain is access to more free agents. If Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, Zack Wheeler, Josh Donaldson, Jose Abreu, Marcell Ozuna or Will Smith turn down their QO from their previous employer, the Twins legally would be allowed to sign any of them. Market demand stays roughly the same and the supply goes up, depending on the position of need and the clubs in the mix.
Well, for starters, they could lose Jake Odorizzi. Tape to tape he was their best starting pitcher in 2019, and that would be a real loss for the rotation.
They could lose access to a premium free agent is Scott Boras shocks the world and advises one of his clients, like Stephen Strasburg, to accept a one-year deal for $17.8 million. That isn’t going to happen. But if it did — or if it happened to somebody like, say, Will Smith — then it would mean one fewer good player out there that the Twins could sign. Demand stays roughly the same and supply shrinks.
Or let’s say that everybody turns down the QO and elects to go to free agency instead. If the Twins sign one of those guys, they’ll forfeit their third-highest draft pick (and the associated draft-bonus pool money). If during the winter the Twins sign two of these players who reject the QO, they’ll give up their third- and fourth-highest draft pick in 2020.
Theoretically, they could also lose leverage in trades and free agency as they hunt for pitchers. Again, this won’t happen, but let’s just say for the sake of argument that all 10 guys accept the QO. (Or worse, 9 accept and Odorizzi turns it down — gulp.) In that made-up scenario the Twins would see a good portion of the high-end market go away, and be left with the same or greater level of demand.
The staff changes throughout the organization were the first domino of the offseason. Odorizzi will be the second. Depending on how that process plays out, the Twins will set a course for the rest of the winter, as they look to make good on their word and target impact pitching.