- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN Insider
As the saying goes, those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. Not one of the 22 players who were extended qualifying offers the past two winters accepted them, and in a lot of cases, that made sense. But it's a strategy that failed for some players.
Stephen Drew turned down a qualifying offer of $14.1 million last fall, and then, after failing to sign with a team in the winter, waited until May to sign with the Red Sox under the premise -- loyally regurgitated in many corners -- that he would benefit from not being attached to a qualifying offer this fall.
This has turned into a disaster. After taking $4 million less in salary than he would've gotten in a qualifying offer, Drew was behind in his timing when he returned to major league action and has never recovered. He is batting .156 overall, with an OPS of .527 (250 points lower than last season), and with the Yankees he's hitting .132. He probably will get just a fraction of what he would've gotten this fall with a qualifying offer, which is expected to be between $15 and $15.5 million.
Similarly, Kendrys Morales rejected a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Mariners before eventually signing with the Twins -- who then traded him back to Seattle. As of Wednesday morning, he is hitting .205 with the Mariners, .223 overall, with seven homers in 350 plate appearances. At 31, he will be a free agent again, in a market already saturated with DH candidates, and he won't get anything close to what a qualifying offer might've netted him.
With that in mind, here are the candidates for qualifying offers in the upcoming market, and whether the player in question can expect to get an offer.
James Shields, SP, Royals: YES. Shields has had another solid season and the Royals intend to give him a qualifying offer so they can get a draft pick when he signs elsewhere.