How qualifying-offer decisions affect Nats in free agency


Four MLB players declined the $18.9 million qualifying offers (QOs) extended to them by their former teams and two accepted them as the deadline hit Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET.

Trevor Bauer, DJ LeMahieu, J.T. Realmuto and George Springer all rejected the one-year deal as expected, which attaches draft pick compensation to them this winter should a new team sign them to a free-agent contract. Kevin Gausman and Marcus Stroman each accepted theirs, returning to the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets, respectively.

The Nationals are expected to be in the market for starting pitching, an outfielder as well as both infield and catching depth this offseason, which puts all four of the QO-tagged players on their radar. If Washington were to sign one of them, it would forfeit a second-round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft as well as $500,000 in international bonus pool money.

It wouldn’t be the first time the Nationals have signed a player who rejected the QO. Patrick Corbin, Daniel Murphy and Max Scherzer are some of the most recent examples, all turning down the QO from their former teams before inking multi-year free-agent deals with the Nationals.

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Washington didn’t extend a QO this offseason, one year after it offered one to both Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon. Strasburg ultimately re-signed with the Nationals, so the QO tag was negated. Rendon, however, signed a seven-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels. The Nationals used their compensation pick between the second and third rounds of the 2020 MLB Draft to select shortstop Samuel Infante out of Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Florida.


This offseason may mark the final year the QO is used. MLB’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the players association expires after the 2021 season and the structure of free agency has been a point of contention between the two sides for years.