BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) Will any of the 20 free agents accept the $15.8 million qualifying offers they were given last week?
All 34 offers were turned down in the first three years of baseball's current collective bargaining agreement. This year's group, which must decide whether to accept by 5 p.m. EST, includes second baseman Daniel Murphy (Mets), outfielder Colby Rasmus (Astros) and pitcher Marco Estrada (Blue Jays).
When a player fails to accept a qualifying offer and signs elsewhere, his former team gets an additional high selection as compensation in next June's amateur draft. Because the signing club loses a top pick, the market has slowed for some less-than-prime free agents.
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''The fact that players say no, go out into the market and get contracts even though the signing club is giving up a draft choice kind of says to me we got it right,'' Commissioner Rob Manfred said this week. ''So I don't think that you need somebody to accept. I think that so far we have successfully identified a group of players who were significant losses for the teams they were leaving and were high enough quality that they could bear the burden of draft-choice compensation in the market and still get a good contract.''
As general managers left their annual meetings after four days at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, the offseason market seemed to slow while teams await Friday's decisions.
''I didn't get that sense that there was a bunch of stuff that's ready to happen, either on the free-agent side or the trade side,'' Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said.
Murphy, who homered in a record six straight postseason games, would take up more than 10 percent of the Mets' 2016 payroll if he accepts.
''Financially and rosterwise, he's a big part of who we were and kind of what we need going forward, so we have to see what happens there,'' Ricco said.
And qualifying offer decisions could have a ripple effect.
''If players accept, it might change available dollars,'' Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington said.
At this early stage in the offseason, teams are asking a lot for players they are dangling. The Atlanta Braves are shopping shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who is signed through 2020, but have asked for one of the Mets' top four starting pitchers. Thus far, clubs have followed expectations in trade talks.
''The teams we thought were probably going to be a rebuild more were, and the teams that are more in the go-for-it mode were,'' Ricco said.