Shields, Scherzer pass on qualifying offers
NEW YORK (AP) - For the third straight year, baseball's free agents shunned qualifying offers from their former teams and chose to test the market.
All 12 free agents who were given the $15.3 million offers last week chose not to accept by Monday's deadline, including Kansas City Royals right-handed pitcher James Shields. Former Missouri pitcher Max Scherzer also did not accept the offer from the Detroit Tigers.
One of the dozen, Colorado outfielder Michael Cuddyer, became the first major free agent to switch teams when he agreed to a $21 million, two-year contract with the New York Mets.
World Series star Pablo Sandoval (San Francisco) also let the deadline pass, as did first baseman-designated hitter Victor Martinez (Detroit), and left-hander Francisco Liriano and catcher Russell Martin (Pittsburgh).
The others were shortstop Hanley Ramirez (Los Angeles Dodgers), outfielder Nelson Cruz (Baltimore), closer David Robertson (New York Yankees), outfielder Melky Cabrera (Toronto) and pitcher Ervin Santana (Atlanta).
In the three offseasons of the current collective bargaining agreement, none of the 34 qualifying offers have been accepted.
"Players offered the qualifying offer carefully considered their options and decided to pursue further free agency rather than accept a $15.3 million contract in a market that should be robust given the economic health of the game," union head Tony Clark said in an email. "I expect free agent compensation will be an important part of bargaining in 2016, as it has been over our entire history."
An offer could be made only to a free agent who was with the team for the entire season. 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.