Three free agents did something previously unheard of Friday: They accepted the one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from their teams.
Pitcher Brett Anderson (Dodgers); outfielder Colby Rasmus (Houston); and catcher Matt Wieters (Baltimore) gave up their opportunities to seek multi-year deals and more money, probably because they (and their agents) realized that better offers might be difficult to come by.
That is almost certainly the case for Anderson, whose career has been marked by years of injuries. They lefty threw 180 innings this year in 31 starts for the Dodgers; both are career highs. He hadn't topped 100 innings since 2010, his second season in the majors. $15.8 million is a very nice payday for one good season in five years.
Rasmus, too, might not have found much of a market. He wore out his welcome in St. Louis (with, apparently, some help in that project from his father) and Toronto. He hit 25 homers for Houston this year, but with three strikeouts to each walk drawn and a low .238 batting average, which equates to a subpar on-base percentage. He's 29 and has some well-established limitations. Again, $15.8 million is a very nice payday.
Wieters might be a different case. Even after two injury-shortened seasons in a row, he probably would have gotten a multi-year deal for more than the $15.8 million. I suspect he and agent Scott Boras are hoping/expecting that he'll have a better, less-injury plagued, season in 2016 and will be in position to try to cash in next winter.
The odds are good that the Dodgers and Astros didn't expect (or want) their QO to be accepted, that they expected the past pattern to hold true and the player to turn it down to test the market. The purpose of extending the QO, of course, is to get an extra draft pick when the player signs elsewhere.
Teams extended 20 qualifying offers this year, a stiff increase over previous years, probably because no player had ever accepted one.
Now three have. Some others, notably Ian Kennedy (Padres), probably should have. Kennedy is, like Wieters, a Boras client. My guess is that Boras expects that there are still a few teams who have not fully embraced the analytics and thus might take Kennedy's numbers with the Padres at face value. But really, a 4.28 ERA isn't that good to start with, and with San Diego as his home park, it's really pretty poor. (He did have more strikeouts than innings pitched; he also managed to give up 31 homers in 168 innings, a high rate any park, much less power-sapping Petco.)
We'll see next year if teams are more cautious about making qualifying offers. My guess is that they will.