MLB teams are already looking at options to improve their rosters, even with a potential lockout looming.
In fact, we have already seen a couple of moves.
But now that all free agents who were extended qualifying offers have either accepted or rejected them, we have a clearer picture about which players will need to be attached to draft pick compensation.
Final tally for the one-year, $18.4M qualifying offer, per sources:
Accepted: Brandon Belt.
Rejected: Nick Castellanos, Michael Conforto, Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman, Raisel Iglesias, Robbie Ray, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story, Chris Taylor, Justin Verlander.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 17, 2021
These are the three best MLB free agents who turned down qualifying offers.
3. Corey Seager
Corey Seager is expected to sign a huge deal that will surpass $200 million and could scratch $300 million.
Additionally, the team that decides to sign him will have to surrender a high draft pick.
The Los Angeles Dodgers extended him a qualifying offer and he rejected it.
It happened on Wednesday.
Chris Taylor, the Dodgers’ utilityman, also rejected the $18.4 million offer for one year.
Seager is seen as a passable defensive shortstop, but a very good offensive one.
Last season, he slashed a healthy .306/.394/.521 with 16 home runs in just 95 games this season.
The fact he accumulated 3.7 Wins Above Replacement in fewer than 100 games is noteworthy and a testament of his talent.
He is also a known postseason performer, and was the 2020 World Series MVP.
The Dodgers, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers, and Seattle Mariners may be after his services.
2. Freddie Freeman
Freddie Freeman is, believe it or not, available for all 30 teams.
The Atlanta Braves, his team since he was drafted in 2007, let him hit the market.
If he leaves, he will do so with the satisfaction of bringing a World Series title to Atlanta.
However, he remains a good bet to re-sign at some point.
Folks, it’s time to lock up Freddie Freeman for life.
Do it @Braves.
Extend Freddie Freeman.
— Corey Lester (@TennesseeCorey) April 29, 2021
Teams interested in Freeman will have to surrender a high draft pick if they sign him, as the Braves extended him a qualifying offer and he rejected it.
That’s why the Braves are entitled to compensation if he leaves for good.
They are still firmly interested in the player, rather than the pick, so re-signing is perhaps the Braves’ number one offseason priority.
Freeman was, as usual, a star during the 2021 campaign.
He hit .300/.393/.503 with 31 home runs and 120 runs scored during the regular season.
Then, he proceeded to slash .304/.420/.625 with five home runs in 16 postseason games.
The 2020 National League MVP was huge for the Braves, and will get a much deserved multi-year deal approaching $30 million per season.
1. Carlos Correa
Carlos Correa was one of the best shortstops in MLB during the 2021 season, with a .279/.366/.485 line, 26 home runs, 104 runs scored, and 92 RBI.
He was also the best defender in the American League at the position, winning the Gold Glove.
Correa, who is hitting the open market at a great age at 27, probably won’t return to the Houston Astros, as they haven’t approached his salary demands.
However, if another club signs him to the multi-year contract he wants (at more than $30 million per season), that organization would have to surrender a high draft pick as compensation because Houston extended Correa a qualifying offer and the infielder rejected it.
Correa will make much, much more than $18.4 million on the open market.
The Yankees, Phillies, Mariners, and Tigers are all believed to be behind his signature.