Today is the deadline for teams to extend a qualifying offer to departing free agents. For those who aren’t familiar with the process, a qualifying offer is the only way a team can get draft pick compensation from departing free agents. This year, teams have to issue a one year, $15.3 M deal. After that is offered, the player has a week to accept or decline. If the player accepts, the team gets him back on that one year deal. If the player declines, then signs with another team, the former team gets a compensation pick after the first round.
As expected, Russell Martin received a qualifying offer. This isn’t a surprise, due to the fact that we’ve known for weeks that the Pirates would be making an offer to Martin. There’s also the fact that Martin will be highly sought after, with teams like the Cubs, Dodgers, Red Sox, Rangers, and as we learned today, the Blue Jays being interested. The Pirates will still pursue Martin, but if he signs elsewhere, they would get compensation for him leaving.
The team also extended a qualifying offer to Francisco Liriano. That move was up in the air, since we didn’t hear any rumblings from the team on what they would decide. There was also the fact that they didn’t make an offer to A.J. Burnett last year, leading to speculation that they wouldn’t make an offer to Liriano this year. As I wrote last night, those two were in different situations. Liriano is believed to be looking for a multi-year deal, so the idea that he will accept a one year deal doesn’t seem likely to happen.
Both Martin and Liriano will have a week to accept or decline their offers. My guess is that both will decline and the Pirates will end up with two compensation picks. That’s assuming the Pirates don’t bring either player back, which might be a safe assumption based on the interest Martin is drawing, and the Pirates’ approach to adding starting pitchers, which doesn’t involve spending a lot of money.