We’re a few days from the beginning of the offseason, with the World Series concluding no later than Saturday. One of the first orders of business is the qualifying offer, which will have to be issued within five days of the beginning of the offseason.
A player is eligible for a qualifying offer if they have never received one before and spent the entire season with the same club. The value of the QO changes annually, calculated by taking the average salary of the 125 highest-paid players in the league. That means it generally rises as salaries increase over time, with this year’s QO expected to land around $20.5MM. If a player receives and rejects a qualifying offer, he becomes a free agent. If he then signs elsewhere, the signing team is subject to draft pick forfeiture and possibly other penalties, while their previous club receives draft pick compensation.
Yesterday, MLBTR’s Darragh McDonald looked at which pitchers were potential QO recipients. Today, we’ll take a look at the offensive class.
This trio is well on its way to nine-figure deals. Ohtani should set the all-time guarantee record, while Bellinger could surpass $200MM. Chapman had a rough second half offensively, which drops him well behind the top two hitters in the class. There’s virtually no chance he’d accept the QO, though, as his plus glove and slightly above-average offense gives him a shot at five or six years.
Hernández had a middling season in Seattle, hitting .258/.305/.435 through 676 trips to the plate. While he connected on 26 home runs, he did so with his lowest batting average and on-base percentage since his 2020 breakout with the Blue Jays. Hernández helped carry the Mariner lineup in June and August but was a well below-average player in every other month.
The down year may knock the 31-year-old from an absolute lock to reject the QO to “merely” very likely to do so. He hit .283/.333/.519 in over 1300 plate appearances between 2020-22. Teams can point to this year’s home/road splits as a potential factor in Hernández’s offensive downturn. He hit only .217/.263/.380 at Seattle’s pitcher-friendly T-Mobile Park while running a typical .295/.344/.486 line on the road. Perhaps that’s an indicator he’s not a great fit for the Mariners specifically, but it also boosts his chances of declining a QO to land a multi-year deal elsewhere.