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Qualifying offers and the Giants' offseason

Jeff Gross

What is a qualifying offer? You sort of have to read that question in the fake-George risk-management voice. So boring. Here's a definition from last year that'll get you started. The important things you probably need to know before anything else:

  • When a team extends a qualifying offer, the player can accept a one-year deal that will be around $14 million instead of testing free agency
  • Teams that sign players who were extended the qualifying offer will lose their first-round pick unless they're drafting in the top 10, in which case they'll lose their second-round pick

The Giants are reportedly eager to hang on to their first-round pick. You might laugh and make a Michael Tucker reference, but you know what's happened since then? They Giants used three first-round picks to build one of the best rotations in franchise history. That'll make true believers out of the filthy heretics, by gum.

So let's look at the players whose team extended the qualifying offer on Monday. Not only does it mean the signing team will give up a draft pick, but it gives you a hint as to which players think they'll be more expensive than some silly $14 million token offer. The Giants don't really do expensive players. The last external free agent to get more than a year and a million was Mark DeRosa. Before that was Edgar Renteria. The last two big-ticket items were Aaron Rowand and Barry Zito. That'll make filthy heretics out of the true believers, by gum.

Received qualifying offer

Carlos Beltran
Curtis Granderson
Jacoby Ellsbury
Shin-Soo Choo
Nelson Cruz

Ubaldo Jimenez
Hiroki Kuroda
Ervin Santana

All of these players moved from "long shot" to "nope." A lot of them were already nopes, but Jimenez and Kuroda in particular would have satisfied the Giants' need for short-term deals. Remember, one of the reasons the Giants kept Tim Lincecum around is because he wasn't looking for a four- or five-year deal. They were willing to overpay in the short term to avoid something like an Edwin Jackson deal.

Now that they'll cost draft picks, it's extremely unlikely the Giants will pursue either Jimenez or Kuroda. And none of those outfielders make a ton of sense, either. I wondered if the Cardinals would risk committing a lot of salary to an outfielder with Oscar Taveras in the wings, but that was before I realized that Jon Jay was kind of bad. The Cardinals would probably rather figure out where to stick him than lose Beltran.

Didn't receive qualifying offer

Chris Young
Mike Morse!
Marlon Byrd
Jeff Francoeur
Like, everyone else

Bronson Arroyo
Bartolo Colon
Tim Hudson
A.J. Burnett
Roy Halladay
Matt Garza (traded midseason, ineligible)
Ricky Nolasco (traded midseason, ineligible)
Dan Haren
Phil Hughes
Scott Kazmir
Josh Johnson

The outfielders are basically Chris Young and a batch of derelicts. If the Giants get a left fielder, it's going to be Young. Or someone through a trade. Or it'll be Brandon Belt, with a new first baseman coming in. Or the new player will be completely awful. Perhaps all three of those last options! But the qualifying offer didn't mean much for the Giants' pursuit of an outfielder.

When it comes to pitchers, though, the lack of a qualifying offer makes a huge difference. The list up there is a hodgepodge of interesting options, especially now that they won't cost a draft pick. Some of the decisions were expected (Haren, Hughes) but a couple others were open questions (Johnson, Arroyo, Colon). It's a pretty big pool of options, which is good news for a team that needs to fill two rotation slots.

Also, if a pitcher isn't on the first list, he's automatically on the second one. But let's just save the Paul Malhoms and Scott Feldmen until the other options start drying up.

Of course, you realize …

I tried to warn you.

There's no way around this now.

Welcome, Bronson Arroyo. Don't give up too many dingers while you're here. And for goodness sake, don't let them hit it to Morse. That guy is terrible.