What will it cost for the Reds to sign someone that rejected a Qualifying Offer?

How might a Qualifying Offer affect which free agents the Reds target this offseason?
Minnesota Twins pitcher Sonny Gray
Minnesota Twins pitcher Sonny Gray / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds are said to be in the market for some top-dollar free agents this offseason. While the team has yet to be linked to any specific player, the Reds have money to spend.

With only Hunter Greene and Luke Maile under contract for 2024, and the impending departure of Joey Votto, Cincinnati's payroll heading into next season could be below $50-million.

And while adding a high-priced free agent may be on the docket, there's more than just money to think about when signing some of this year's free agent class. A number of free agents could have a Qualifying Offer attached to their signing.

What is a Qualifying Offer?

According to MLB.com, a Qualifying Offer is a competitive balance measure that's meant to ensure a team's ability to retain a top-level free agent or be compensated in the event that he signs elsewhere.

The QO works as a one-year deal that allows the player to make the mean salary of the Top 125 players in Major League Baseball. If a player rejects that offer and enters free agency, the team receives an additional draft pick.

Recently, the Cincinnati Reds have extended Qualifying Offers to Trevor Bauer (2020) and Nick Castellanos (2021). Both players rejected the QO and signed elsewhere. Bauer landed in LA with the Dodgers and Castellanos signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.

In exchange, the Reds received draft pick compensation. Cincinnati selected Jay Allen with the 30th pick in the 2021 MLB Draft (Bauer) and Sal Stewart in the 2022 MLB Draft (Castellanos).

How much will the Qualifying Offer be in 2023?

According to the New York Post, this year's Qualifying Offer is expected to be around $20.5-million. Last year, the number was $19.65-million.

In 2022, 12 players declined the QO and two accepted. Texas Rangers pitcher Martin Perez and San Francisco Giants slugger Joc Pederson each accepted the Qualifying Offer and will hit the free agent market this offseason.

Players like Dansby Swanson (who left the Atlanta Braves to sign with the Chicago Cubs) and Willson Contreras (who left the Chicago Cubs to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals) declined the QO.

What will it cost the Reds to sign someone that rejected a Qualifying Offer?

According to MLB Trade Rumors, because the Cincinnati Reds are a revenue sharing recipient, the club would have to surrender their third-highest pick in the 2024 MLB Draft.

While it's certainly possible that Cincinnati could feel good enough about the stockpile of talent in their farm system that they'd be willing to give up a draft pick, that idea would seem to fly in the face of everything the Reds' front office has been preaching for the past few years.

A few names that are likely to receive Qualifying Offers this winter include Sonny Gray (Minnesota Twins), Teoscar Hernandez (Seattle Mariners), and Aaron Nola (Philadelphia Phillies).

If the Cincinnati Reds have any interest in those players, or others who may receive a QO this offseason, they'd better be willing to spend money and give up a draft pick.

Which free agents are ineligible to receive a Qualifying Offer?

Not every free agent to-be can be extended a Qualifying Offer. If a player received a QO before or did not spend the entire season with their current team, they are ineligible to receive a Qualifying Offer.

As far as the Cincinnati Reds are concerned, that could make the prospects of signing a few top-flight free agents much more appealing, as draft compensation would not be tied to their signing a contract.

According to MLB.com, Detroit Tigers pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, Toronto Blue Jays hurler Hyun Jin Ryu, and Texas Rangers reliever Will Smith are ineligible to receive a QO this year.