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What it would cost the Milwaukee Brewers to sign a Qualifying Offer free agent

If the Brewers want to sign a player who received a qualifying offer, it would cost them their third-highest draft pick.

League Championship Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs - Game Four Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With the start of free agency, several players received qualifying offers prior to the start of the signing period. Of those players, nine declined their offers, which attached draft pick compensation to those picks. Under the new CBA, the rules are different for what pick teams will lose, and it varies based on the team. Here is the list of players that fall into this category:

  • Jake Arrieta
  • Lorenzo Cain
  • Alex Cobb
  • Wade Davis
  • Greg Holland
  • Eric Hosmer
  • Lance Lynn
  • Mike Moustakas
  • Carlos Santana

Yesterday, Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors clarified what draft picks each team would lose by signing a qualified free agent. Teams are classified into three groups: Teams who paid the competitive balance tax, teams who received revenue sharing and didn’t pay the competitive balance tax, and all other teams. The Brewers fall into the revenue sharing group, which faces the lowest free agent compensation.

If they sign a qualified free agent, they would give up just their third highest pick. Depending on if the Brewers get a Competitive Balance pick or not, that will either be a second round pick (if they get a Round A balance pick) or the Competitive Balance Round B pick (if they receive that pick). That would either be a pick in the late 50s or in the 70s. It’s a decently high pick, but it’s better than the first round pick that the Brewers would have forfeited under the previous rules.

Meanwhile, teams in the other groups face higher costs for signing a qualified free agent. The tax teams will have to forfeit their second-highest pick and fifth-highest pick, as well as $1 million of their international signing pool. The other group would only forfeit their second-highest pick and $500,000 from their international signing pool. Not only will the Brewers lose a lower pick, but they won’t have to lose any international money.

It’s also worth noting what would happen if the Brewers signed two players with compensation attached. If they chose to do that (an unlikely, but not impossible scenario), then the second of those signings would cost them their fourth-highest draft pick, the highest pick available after the one they already forfeited. That would likely be a pick in the third round, somewhere in the late 90s. Compare that to the tax group, who would have to forfeit their third-highest and sixth-highest draft picks as well. It would mean that a team like the Yankees could sign two players with qualifying offers attached, but they would lose their second, third, fifth, and sixth highest draft picks, in addition to international money.

It’s still early in the offseason, and we don’t have an idea yet of what the Brewers strategy will be in the free agent market. Will they try to make a jump forward with some aggressive free agent signings, or continue to play conservative and stick with internal options? That will come more into focus in the coming weeks. At least now we know that if the Brewers do decide to be aggressive, singing a player with a qualifying offer won’t hurt their future as much.