Who should get qualifying offers?

Hamilton a no-brainer, but other free agents are not so clear-cut

Updated: October 26, 2012, 1:26 AM ET
By Ben Lindbergh | Baseball Prospectus
Josh HamiltonEzra Shaw/Getty ImagesJosh Hamilton will certainly get a qualifying offer, but chances are he won't accept it.

For the next several days, much of the baseball world will be watching the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants fight it out in the Fall Classic. But for the 28 teams whose seasons have already ended, the focus will be on what to do once the World Series is over and the winter's work begins.

As soon as the World Series ends, eligible players will become free agents. Under the new CBA, teams can still seek draft-pick compensation for departing free agents, but the old system of classifying free agents as Type A and Type B based on past performance has been abolished. Now, a team that wants to receive a compensatory pick at the end of the first round in the following year's amateur draft has to make a "qualifying offer": a one-year contract equal to the average of the top 125 salaries from the previous season (in this case, $13.3 million).

A player's former team can continue to negotiate with him if he rejects the offer, but if he signs somewhere else, his new team will have to forfeit either a first- or second-round pick (the first 10 picks are protected). A team can't be compensated for a free agent unless he spent the whole season on the roster, which rules out midseason trade targets like Ryan Dempster, Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez and Shane Victorino (not to mention the amazing Marco Scutaro).

Qualifying offers must be extended by 5 p.m. ET on the fifth day after the World Series. Players who receive them will have until the seventh day after the Series to accept or reject. So which players are good candidates for qualifying offers, and what will their teams decide to do?

Ben Lindbergh

Baseball Prospectus
Ben Lindbergh is the editor-in-chief of Baseball Prospectus. He has interned for multiple MLB teams and is a member of the BBWAA.