10 days ago, the Diamondbacks were responsible for two of the seven players this season who were made qualifying offers. Each of the impending free-agents could accept a one-year offer from their current teams, at a rate of around $18 million for the 2019 season. Or they could decline the offer, hit the open market and see if they could get a longer and/or better contract from the other 29 teams. It’s the first time Arizona has ever been part of the system, with pitcher Patrick Corbin and outfielder A.J. Pollock being tendered these qualifying offers. Since then, the players have been able to see what the market for their services looks like, while making their choice.
The obvious decision belongs to Corbin. With the re-signing of Clayton Kershaw to a contract extension by the Los Angeles Dodgers, he became the top pitcher on the free-agent market this winter. Not bad, considering that in 2016. he went 5-15 with an ERA north of five, and was removed from the Arizona starting rotation all together in mid-August. Much credit to Corbin for bouncing back, pitching two hundred innings last season, becoming an All-Star with an ERA+ of 137. He’ll now get a career pay-day, something which surely was in doubt when he had Tommy John surgery in 2014. The New York Yankees appear to be the front-runners for his services.
Pollock was a rather trickier decision, and there was a genuine question-mark over whether he would or would not accept the qualifying offer. While perhaps also the best player at his position available this off-season, Pollock had a down year in 2018, despite winning NL Player of the Month for April. He fractured his thumb while attempting a diving catch in mid-May, the latest in a long series of unrelated and sometimes freak injuries which have hampered Pollock over the course of his career. This one caused him to miss a quarter of the season, and when he returned, A.J. batted only .236 for the rest of the year, with a .704 OPS. Not exactly what you’d want in your walk year.
However, Jon Heyman just Tweeted that Pollock will reject the offer:
Pollock declined the QO— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 12, 2018
What happens in terms of the Diamondbacks’ compensation now depends on the contracts which the players in question go on to sign. Specifically, whether they are worth $50 million or more - that seems all but certain for Corbin, and likely the case for Pollock as well. If so, Arizona gets an additional pick in next year’s draft, between the 1st round and Competitive Balance Round A, which will be around #34. If the deal is below $50m, it’s after Competitive Balance Round B. The D-backs already have two first-round picks, at #16 and #26: the latter is their compensation for failing to sign first-rounder Matt McLain with the No. 25 pick this season. So 2019 could be a big opportunity for Arizona.