NEW YORK — Losing free agents is rarely easy, but if it happens to the Mets this offseason, they’ll have some significant Draft pick compensation coming their way.
The Mets did not extend a qualifying offer to one borderline case, starting pitcher Taijuan Walker, who would have been a candidate to accept. Should Walker sign elsewhere, the Mets will not receive any compensation.
The QO is a one-year offer worth the average salary of MLB’s 125 highest-paid players — this year, $19.65 million. Teams must make the offers to eligible players within five days of the conclusion of the World Series. Players then have until Nov. 15 at 4 p.m. ET to accept or reject.
If a free agent accepts the qualifying offer, he remains bound to his team from the previous season. If he rejects the offer, he can explore free agency. In the latter scenario, the team that lost the player would receive a compensatory Draft pick, while the team that signs him would be subject to the loss of one or more Draft picks (though a team’s highest first-round pick is exempt from forfeiture).
Because the Mets went over Major League Baseball’s luxury tax threshold last season, their compensatory picks would be after the fourth round of the 2023 Draft.
deGrom, 34, and Nimmo, 29, are two of the most prominent free agents in baseball, making it obvious that they would receive and reject qualifying offers. Both figure to command multiyear, nine-figure deals in free agency. Bassitt, 33, recently declined his portion of a $19 million mutual option, so it’s highly unlikely that he would accept a $19.65 million qualifying offer instead. He should have little problem finding a multiyear deal with a higher total value, even if the average annual value is less.
Walker presented an interesting decision for the Mets, who are looking to fill multiple rotation slots this offseason. Much like Bassitt, Walker figures to command a multiyear deal on the open market, though perhaps at a lower average annual value than he would have received on a qualifying offer. The potential for Draft pick compensation was not enough for the Mets to risk tying that much of their payroll up on a pitcher such as Walker, who went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts this season.
No team issued more qualifying offers than the Mets, who lost 12 players off their 40-man roster to free agency (not including closer Edwin Díaz, who was briefly a free agent before re-signing with the club).