Major League Baseball history has been made.
For the first time in MLB history, a player — actually two players — have accepted a team’s qualifying offer. According to MLB Trade Rumors, the qualifying offer system has been in place since the 2012-13 season, and none of the 34 prior players that received the offer had accepted it. Colby Rasmus and Matt Wieters changed that this year by accepting the one-year, $15.8 million tender from their clubs.
Fox Sports reported that Rasmus was the first player ever to accept the qualifying offer when he officially agreed to sign the Houston Astros today. The 29-year-old outfielder was expected to stay with Houston even if he had opted to hit the open market. Ken Rosenthal first broke the news of Rasmus agreeing to stay in Houston on Thursday.
OF Colby Rasmus has accepted the #Astros qualifying offer and will return to the club for the 2016 season, GM Jeff Luhnow announced today.— Houston Astros (@astros) November 13, 2015
Rasmus was a productive hitter, particulary late in the season, and very versatile as he played all three outfield positions in his first season with Houston. He batted .238 average with a career-high 25 homers to go along with 65 RBIs. Rasmus tagged seven long balls in his last 27 at-bats with four coming in 17 postseason at-bats.
Rasmus struck out a career-high 154 times last year, which was the sixth most in the AL last season. He also struggled defensively, committing five errors — fifth most among all AL outfielders though he had five assists and was part of three double plays.
Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors said Rasmus is slated to play left field most of the time next year as the Astros have Carlos Gomez in center and George Springer in right.
While it wasn’t a complete surprise that Rasmus took the Astros offer, it was that Wieters did. Wieters was to be in high demand this offseason as he was the top available catcher. However, the 29-year-old was limited to just 75 games last year due to injuries, and two teams that were expected to make a bid on Wieters already had made a move to fill their catching needs — Atlanta (re-signing A.J. Pierzynski) and New York Yankees (John Ryan Murphy).
Wieters, who has spent his entire career with Baltimore, hit .267 with eight home runs last year. Per ESPN, Wieters told reporters that he re-signed with the Orioles because he is comfortable with the organization.
“For a one-year deal, there’s no place more comfortable than playing baseball for the Orioles. I hope all the guys are back, but one of the main factors in my decision is that I think this team can be competitive regardless of what happens this offseason. I know the preparation and work that goes into a Buck Showalter spring training camp. So no matter whether we have the most expensive team or not, every night we have a chance to win.”
Baltimore has several free agents this year, and the signing of Wieters is expected to hamper the Orioles’ chances of re-signing 1B Chris Davis and relief pitcher Darren O’Day.
Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Brett Anderson was the third player to accept the qualifying offer. The 27-year-old went 10-9 with a 3.69 ERA and 116 strikeouts. Anderson, who started 31 games, threw one complete game and 180.1 innings.
Overall, 20 players received qualifying offers, meaning 16 players rejected their option as right-handed starter Marco Estrada and the Toronto Blue Jays agreed to a two-year, $26 million deal. The players that turned down their qualifying offer include LHP Wei -Yin Chin (Orioles), 1B Chris Davis (Orioles), SS Ian Desmond (Nationals), OF Dexter Fowler (Cubs), RHP Yovani Gallardo (Rangers), OF Alex Gordon (Royals), RHP Zack Greinke (Dodgers), OF Jason Heyward (Cardinals), RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (Marners), 2B Howie Kendrick (Dodgers), RHP Ian Kennedy (Padres), RHP John Lackey (Cardinals), 2B Daniel Murphy (Mets), RHP Jeff Samardzija (White Sox), OF Justin Upton (Padres), and RHP Jordan Zimmermann (Nationals).
The 16 players that rejected the qualifying offer are now free agents. However, any team that signs one of the 16 players will forfeit their highest draft pick available as stated in the rules of qualifying offer system.
[photo by Al Bello/Getty Images]