The Arizona Diamondbacks extended 2018 qualifying offers to free agents A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin. The deadline to accept or decline passed at 4pm CT today.
The Arizona Diamondbacks waited patiently to hear back after extending qualifying offers to A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin. Worst case, their star players would return on a $17.9MM one-year deal. Best case, the Diamondbacks will be in a position to gain compensatory draft picks in their stead.
Or maybe the best case is the players return, and the worst case is the draft picks. I’m not sure. Regardless, both Corbin and Pollock declined their qualifying offers this afternoon. Of the seven free agents who were extended QOs, only Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers accepted.
Fancred’s Jon Heyman first tweeted news of Corbin’s decision to decline at about 3:40pm CT. This comes as no surprise, as it was long expected that Corbin would reject the offer. In 2018, the two-time All-Star went 11-7 with a 3.12 ERA in exactly 200 innings.
A little more suspense went into Pollock’s decision, but the news dropped just before the deadline, also per Fancred’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter).
Pollock’s 2018 was his Diamondbacks’ career in a nutshell: tantalizing production, slowed by injury. After starting hot, Pollock missed all of June and struggled to regain his form when he returned. He hit .285/.348/.575 in the first half, but only .233/.290/.410 in the second half.
What this means for the Diamondbacks moving forward depends on a couple of factors. First of all, there’s the potential compensatory draft picks they will receive once Corbin and Pollock sign elsewhere.
Where those picks land depends on two factors: (1) the size of their deals, and (2) where the Diamondbacks ended in terms of revenue sharing for 2018.
Last season, the Diamondbacks were in the lowest category of revenue sharing, meaning they received revenue sharing money and did not exceed the luxury tax. If they fell into the same category this year, they should receive a compensatory pick for each Corbin and Pollock immediately after the first round of the draft.
Those picks should fall in the early 30s of the draft – those are great picks.
The other consideration, of course, is the size of the free agent contracts signed by Corbin and Pollock. For the picks to fall immediately after the first round, Pollock and Corbin will need to sign for a total guarantee of at least $50MM each.
For Corbin, this is a given. As the top left-handed starter on the market, the question is whether or not Corbin’s next deal will exceed $100MM, not $50MM. Unless he loses an arm or something equally horrific happens, the Diamondbacks should net a pick in the high 30s as compensation for losing Corbin.
With Pollock, it’s a little bit more uncertain. His history of injury might limit his market. He’ll be 31 at the start of 2019, so a four-year deal would take him through his age-35 season. That might scare some teams.
A three-year deal is certainly possible, which could put the $50MM threshold in question. MLB Trade Rumors predicts the NL West rival Giants to ink Pollock to a four-year deal worth $60MM total. That’s a $15MM AAV, which at three years comes only to $45MM. Of course, a shorter guarantee could mean a slightly higher AAV, but it will be something Diamondbacks fans will want to monitor.
For the Diamondbacks, they have to hope there are enough teams bidding on Pollock to drive up his price. The good news: there’s not another starting center fielder on the free agent market. With that kind of negotiating position, there’s a decent chance he gets the kind of deal he wants.
That said, the free agent market is still resetting itself after an unusually quiet offseason last year and there’s no guarantee. If Pollock signs for less than $50MM, the Diamondbacks compensatory pick will fall to immediately after Competitive Balance Round B, right before the start of the third round.
There’s no doubt, the Diamondbacks would have loved to keep Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock in the desert, but from a broader team-building perspective, this is probably the best way to lose them. After benefiting from the entirety of their original 6-year MLB contract, the Arizona Diamondbacks should get premium draft pick compensation to help rebuild their farm system.
In the meantime, it’s time to move on and look ahead to putting together the best roster possible for 2019. The Arizona Diamondbacks are losing two top free agents, but with the 2018 qualifying offers extended and rejected, free agency can begin in earnest.