The D-backs rolled the dice this afternoon, and made qualifying offers (QO) to both pitcher Patrick Corbin and outfielder A.J. Pollock. The QOs would give the team a one-year deal with each man, at a salary fixed by MLB, based on the average top player’s rate, of $17.9 million. Corbin and Pollock now have 10 days to decide whether to accept the QO, remaining a Diamondbacks for 2019, or decline it and take their chances in this winter’s free-agent market. If they decline, the team signing them will typically lose one or more draft picks, and the Diamondbacks will get a supplemental pick. The specifics depend on the financial state of the signing team and the value of the free-agent deal they sign.
Details of how the QO system works, with regard to pentalties a can be found in the first link above, and we discussed the situations with regard to both Corbin and Pollock in those articles. The signing of Clayton Kershaw to three years with the Dodgers today, makes Patrick’s decision even more of a no-brainer. He’s clearly the best starting pitcher who will be available on the market, and is potentially in line for a nine-figure contract, coming off the best season of his career by most pitching metrics. He would be extremely foolish to take a one-year deal, likely at a lower rate, with no way of knowing whether he’ll be as good and/or healthy at the end of 2019. Corbin is going to decline.
The situation is considerably more cloudy for Pollock, whose 2019 campaign was far from what he would have wanted in a walk year. When we polled readers, 73% said they thought he should accept a qualifying offer. Of course, the difference between “should” and “would” is a significant one. While there are some big-name players with whom Pollock will be competing for dollars, not many of them are capable of playing center-field like A.J. He needs to balance the potential risk of injury next year, against the potential (but far from guarantee) of a better season in 2019, raising his value for that winter. However, he would also be a year older then.
Worth noting, as discussed in Snake Bytes, that Pollock can negotiate with other teams during the 10-day window. This could give him an idea of what the market might be for his services, and a more informed decision as to whether or not he should accept the QO. MLB Trade Rumors has him projected to get a four-year contract for $60 million. If that’s what A.J. finds when he tests the market, it will make for an interesting dilemma whether to accept the one-year, $17.9 million deal from the D-backs. I’m curious as to whether GM Mike Hazen wants Pollock to accept or not. It’s good, if we want a last hurrah with Goldschmidt. Not so good, if we are trying to rebuild and would rather have a bonus draft pick.
We’ll know by about the middle of November what the situation is for both players.