Twenty players were given $15.8 million qualifying offers by Friday afternoon, the most in the four-year history of the system. Three of them were Orioles, Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters.
There weren’t many surprises among the 17 others, but would the Orioles consider losing their first round draft choice to sign one, or perhaps two of them?
A few of the names on the list are intriguing. There are some starting pitchers who conceivably could fit into the Orioles’ price range: Brett Anderson, Marco Estrada, Yovani Gallardo, Ian Kennedy, John Lackey, Jeff Samardzija and Jordan Zimmermann.
Daniel Murphy, star of the first two rounds of the postseason is on the list, and so is Justin Upton, who had been linked with the team at the trade deadline.
The Cubs' Dexter Fowler and Kansas City’s Alex Gordon are on the list, too.
While Zack Greinke and Hisashi Iwakuma were given qualifying offers, they are not likely to be Orioles targets. Greinke would prefer to stay in the National League where he can hit, and Iwakuma is seen as re-signing with Seattle.
Others on the list: Ian Desmond, Justin Heyward and Howie Kendrick either play positions where the Orioles don’t have a great need, or in Heyward’s case, will likely be too expensive.
The other name on the list is Colby Rasmus, who turned down the Orioles’ one-year contract offer a year ago, and will probably not get another one.
Some of the more intriguing names on the free agent market are Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist. Both were traded to the Kansas City Royals in July and not eligible for a qualifying offer.
It will be interesting to see how aggressive Dan Duquette is in the early weeks of free agency. In the past, he was never a serious early pursuer. His biggest conquests, Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez, didn’t come until spring training 2014.
That year, several names on the qualifying offer list went unsigned for months. Last year, that wasn’t the case, but this year there are so many more that there may be a few names still unsigned come late January.
Late signings don’t faze Scott Boras, who represents Chen, Davis and Wieters. It will be interesting to see if Boras, as he has in the past, holds his clients back from signing in the early part of free agency.
While the Orioles are eager to re-sign Davis and will make a competitive offer, would they wait until January if Boras continues to survey the market?
They’ll have to make a decision on 2016’s first baseman, and they may not want to wait until mid or late January since there isn’t a logical successor to Davis on hand.
The most interesting thing about the players on the qualifying list is that many aren’t necessarily seen as top tier free agents. While some fans may want the Orioles to take a run at David Price, who doesn’t have a qualifying offer attached to him, he’s likely out of their price range.
But absent Greinke, Heyward and Upton, it doesn’t seem that many here are out of their market.
It will be interesting to see if they make more than a token offer to Wieters, who will likely reject the offer and move on. He’s been linked in print to the Nationals, but multiple people with knowledge of the team’s workings say that they don’t see a fit there.
Friday morning, Peter Gammons tweeted that the Braves, who were widely seen as Wieters’ landing spot, were not going to pursue him.
The Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers have been mentioned as possible homes for Wieters.
There weren’t any relief pitchers on the list, but Darren O’Day figures to be a prized commodity. He’s in a great spot, probably the best relief pitcher on the market, and coming off four stellar years with the Orioles.
O’Day, who just turned 33, could sign with the Dodgers. While there has been talk he could sign with the Nationals, they’ve been reluctnat to sign a reliever for three or four years, which is what O’Day might be able to get elsewhere. And for now at least, the Nationals say they intend to keep both Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen.
Washington is a possible destination for the only Orioles free agent who wasn’t eligible for a qualifying offer, Gerardo Parra. The Nationals tried to get him at the trading deadline, but the Orioles beat them to it.
While we await the countless rumors and rumors of linkings for Chen, Davis, O’Day, Parra and Wieters, there is some good news.
Other than Brian Matusz, who may be traded this offseason, there are no Orioles currently eligible for free agency next year.
MORE ORIOLES: Orioles make qualifying offers to Chen, Davis, Wieters