If the Philadelphia Phillies want to sign a qualified free agent this winter, they will have to surrender their second-highest selection in the 2022 MLB Draft and lose $500,000 of international signing bonus pool money.
Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors was the first one to note this, as the Phillies are one of 15 teams that wasn’t over the luxury tax threshold and wasn’t a revenue sharing recipient.
The Phillies were in the same situation after the 2019 season, and ultimately signed Zack Wheeler to a five-year/$118 million deal. Because Wheeler declined a qualifying offer from the New York Mets before becoming a free agent, he was a qualified free agent. So the Phillies lost their second-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, and had $500,000 less international bonus pool money to play with.
We don’t yet know what free agents will fall under this umbrella this winter. Anthony Franco of MLB Trade Rumors projected that Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman, Robbie Ray, Carlos Rodón, Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Story, Marcus Semien and Corey Seager are certain to receive a qualifying offer. Franco listed seven other players as “likely” to receive a qualifying offer, with three others as “possible.”
Of course, some players will re-sign with their current teams and other will accept the qualifying offer rather than testing free agency this offseason. But if the Phillies want to sign a player that has declined an $18.4 million qualifying offer, they’ll have to give up their second-round pick in the 2022 MLB Draft and $500,000 of international signing bonus pool money.
Whether or not to sign a qualified free agent — or even multiple qualified free agents — will be an interesting dilemma for president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski this offseason.
On the other hand, you hate to give up a second-round pick (along with bonus pool money) when it’s well acknowledged that you’ve struggled to consistently develop talent from your farm system since the mid-2000s. Some second-round picks don’t pan out. Others turn out to be Jimmy Rollins. You lose your chance to select a winning lottery ticket on a given draft pick if you surrender it.
The Phillies don’t have any candidates to receive the qualifying offer this winter. Last year, J.T. Realmuto declined the qualifying offer, but the Phillies didn’t receive any draft compensation because they ultimately re-signed the All-Star catcher to a five-year/$115.5 million deal.
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