Players turning down qualifying offers is nothing to complain about
There’s some negativity surrounding the Red Sox’s free agents that needs to be dispelled. I’ve seen comments around the internet writing off Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, and Stephen Drew for rejecting their qualifying offers, calling them traitors. But that’s not how qualifying offers work.
See, qualifying offers are a fairly new part of the MLB’s collective bargaining agreement. In order for a team to be eligible for draft pick compensation, they must extend a qualifying offer to the free agents that they want to keep, which is determined each year by averaging the top 125 player salaries from the previous year. That means this year, every free agent who was given a qualifying offer was offered a $14.1 million one-year deal.
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
And guess what? All thirteen players who were given offers this year turned them down. It’s expected that most players will turn down the qualifying offer. Unless it’s already late in their career, most will go off in search of a multi-year deal.
And that’s exactly what Ellsbury, Drew, and Napoli are doing. The three of them, aged 30, 30, and 32 respectively, are still in the stage of their careers where multi-year deals aren’t a stretch. Even with Napoli’s hip condition, which has actually improved, being at first base makes him worth a commitment by any team. Plus, that doesn’t mean that none of them will resign with the Sox. It just means that they want to be somewhere where they’re valued enough for the team to stick with them for the long term. And it wouldn't be surprising if the Sox extended multi-year deals to all three.
Remember, David Ortiz turned down his qualifying offer from the Sox last year. Of course he wanted to stay, but he thought he was worth more than one year at $13.3 million, which he is. So players turning down qualifying offers is nothing to sweat about. It’s routine, and it’s even expected. Ellsbury, Drew, and Napoli deserve some slack for now.
And if you want to learn more about how qualifying offers work, this link is a good breakdown.