The qualifying offers are in. Based on recent history, few if any big leaguers will accept.
Second baseman Daniel Murphy and outfielder Colby Rasmus were among a record 20 free agents who received $15.8-million qualifying offers before Friday's deadline.
With teams sensing that starting pitching will be prized, Jeff Samardzija (Chicago White Sox), Marco Estrada (Toronto), Yovani Gallardo (Texas), Ian Kennedy (San Diego), Wei-Yin Chen (Baltimore), Hisashi Iwakuma (Seattle) and Brett Anderson (Los Angeles Dodgers) also received offers.
Players have until Nov. 13 to accept. In the three previous off-seasons of the current collective bargaining agreement, none of the 34 qualifying offers was taken as free agents sought contracts with longer terms.
Teams had easy decisions in making offers to top pitchers such as Zack Greinke (Dodgers), Jordan Zimmermann (Washington) and John Lackey (St. Louis), and to hitters such as outfielder Jason Heyward (Cardinals) and first baseman Chris Davis (Baltimore).
For a less-sought-after free agent, a qualifying offer could dampen his market because clubs hesitate to give up a high draft pick.
"I expect free agent compensation will be an important part of bargaining in 2016, as it has been over our entire history," players' association head Tony Clark said last offseason.
The 30-year-old Murphy homered in a record six straight postseason games for the New York Mets but then slumped in the World Series, hitting .150 (3 for 20) and making key errors in Games 4 and 5. He batted .281 during the regular season with 73 RBIs and a career-best 14 homers.
Rasmus hit .238 with a career-high 25 homers and 61 RBIs for Houston, then batted .412 in the postseason with four homers, six RBIs and seven talks.
Others who received offers were catcher Matt Wieters (Baltimore), second baseman Howie Kendrick (Dodgers), shortstop Ian Desmond (Nationals), and outfielders Alex Gordon (Kansas City), Dexter Fowler (Chicago Cubs) and Justin Upton (San Diego).
This year's total was up from nine in 2012, 13 in 2013 and 12 last year.
An offer could be made only to a free agent who was with the team for the entire season, a provision blocking Toronto from making an offer to pitcher David Price and the Mets from giving one to outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. The price was determined by the average of the top 125 major league contracts this year by average annual value.
If a team made a qualifying offer to a player who signs a major league contract with another club before the June amateur draft, his former club would receive a draft pick as compensation at the end of the first round.
The club signing that player loses its first-round pick in the amateur draft, unless that pick is among the top 10, in which case the club signing that player loses its next-highest pick.
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