The reported-but-not-yet-official signing of Max Scherzer by the Washington Nationals leaves just one qualifying-offer free agent left on the market, and nobody seriously doubts James Shields will get a multi-year deal to his liking.
Shields has been waiting for Scherzer, and Scherzer was waiting because that's what Scott Boras does. With Scherzer gone, Shields will be soon to follow.
Which means that nobody is is the compensation limbo that ensnared several players last winter and kept Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales out of action until midseason.
The Twins may have played a role in that by signing Ervin Santana to a four-year deal (and surrendering their second-round pick in June's draft). Last year Santana declined his qualifying offer from Kansas City and wound up accepting essentially the same money on a one-year deal with Atlanta. In March. He didn't take the financial bath Drew and Morales did, but it was hardly the bonanza he was expecting
I thought it possible, even likely, that he'd find himself again overpriced this winter. Didn't happen. Nor did it happen to Nelson Cruz, another late-signee last year.
I don't know if this signals a change in attitudes among the decision makers about the value of draft picks. It's possible there was concern from higher levels (like the commissioner's office) that another winter of stalled free agents would create labor unease. Rob Manfred, the incoming commissioner, has been Bud Selig's point man with the players association, and Manfred has done a pretty good job of picking his spots to weaken the union while still maintaining 20 years of labor peace. This, I suspect, would not the field he wants to provoke a battle on.