There were no surprises from the Orioles as Friday's deadline to make qualifying offers to the team's departing free agents came and went. As has long been expected, the Orioles extended the offers to Chris Davis, Wei-Yin Chen, and Matt Wieters.
Each player now will have one week to decide whether to accept or decline the offer, which is a one-year, $15.8 million contract for the 2016 season. No player has yet to accept a QO and if one of the O's free agents was the first, that would be a huge shock. Once a QO is declined, if that player signs with a different team, they give up their highest remaining draft pick (top 10 picks are protected) and the team that loses the player gains a pick at the end of the first round, sorted in reverse order by record.
The previous record for qualifying offers extended across all of baseball is 13 in one offseason. This year is expected to set a new record for players to receive a QO. The O's having three QO-worthy players are a large part of why that is.
Even if the Orioles retain Chris Davis, it seems like they'll get at least two picks out of this process. That could prove crucial as if they sign a QO free agent from elsewhere, they'd give up the #15 overall pick in the draft. Losing a pick is less than ideal for a team whose farm system could stand to get an infusion of top talent, but with the potential to get two picks in the mid-30s, it's not a total loss. The 2016 draft won't turn into one like the O's had in 2014, where their first pick came in the third round.
A simple fact is that the Orioles need to get better for 2016, and given what's on the farm, the best way to get better immediately will be to sign a free agent who can improve the team. Many of those free agents are going to cost a draft pick to sign. They can't be afraid to lose pick #15 to make the team better. Getting picks when they seemingly-inevitably lose Chen and Wieters will make losing their first pick easier to stomach.
Today is also the last day for teams to negotiate exclusively with their own free agents, whether they get QOs or not. Starting tomorrow, teams can talk to and sign anybody. Buckle up!