With the deadline for teams to submit qualifying offers to players coming up tonight at 5:00 pm E.T., the Blue Jays have already made their decisions when it comes to eligible players from the 2021 roster.
It was almost a given that Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray were going to receive a QO from the club, considering how well both players performed this season, however, southpaw Steven Matz did not receive a QO from the Jays and also turned down a multi-year deal from the organization and will be heading to free agency.
Signing separate one-year deals last offseason, both Ray and Semien had fantastic seasons with Toronto.
Semien finished the year with a .265/.334/.538 slash line as well as 45 home runs, 102 RBI, and a .873 OPS while breaking the single-season record for home runs by a second baseman. The righty-batter led all second baseman in the AL in home runs, RBI, and OPS and was recently voted the Marvin Miller Man of the Year as well as being named a finalist for a Gold Glove Award (.985 fielding percentage and 11 bDRS at second base).
Robbie Ray fashioned himself into the Jays ace this year, posting an AL-leading 2.84 ERA with 248 strikeouts through 32 starts and 193.1 innings pitched while throwing to a 1.045 WHIP. Ray ended up posting some of the best numbers of his career, sporting a 2.4 BB/9 and an 11.5 K/9, setting a Major League record for the most strikeouts (1241) through 1000.0 innings pitched over his career, breaking the previous milestone set by Yu Darvish with 1222 K’s. The Tennessee product also took home the Player’s Choice Award for AL Most Oustanding Pitcher and is currently in line for the AL Cy Young Award.
It made sense why the club would give both players a qualifying offer, as they are both going to be commanding larger contracts this offseason. If either player decides to sign elsewhere this winter, the Blue Jays will now receive some form of draft pick compensation because they would have to decline the offer. The Blue Jays did engage in contract extensions talks with Semien and were looking to discuss with Ray but both players will most likely be biding their time until free agency really opens up on Monday.
After the World Series is over, teams have five days to negotiate with players heading to free agency without other teams interfering. Once those five days have passed and the QO’s have been issued, players will have ten days to either accept or decline the offer and other clubs can now negotiate with any player who is designated as a free agent.
Overall, I would not get too excited about the possibility of either Ray or Semien accepting the Blue Jays QO this offseason. Both players are in line for raises in what is shaping up to be a very stacked free-agent class that is also in the midst of CBA negotiations and it would be silly if either player was not open to exploring their options from other teams across the league. One can only imagine the level of interest from other teams and it makes sense that both players would reject the QO to explore what is out there.
The Blue Jays extended a qualifying offer to both Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray but don’t expect either player to sign on the dotted line just yet.
The one hurdle that both players will need to take into consideration is that there is a potential for a lockout this offseason with the expiring CBA, as the owners could easily force a work stoppage once the CBA is no longer in effect, essentially halting any trades and free-agent signings until a new agreement is in place.
This would most likely delay either player signing until the new agreement is in place which could be well into the new year before something is agreed upon, a gamble that each player can avoid by accepting the QO. The negotiations are ongoing between the MLB and MLBPA but it looks like nothing imminent is on the horizon.
Although fans are hoping each player returns to the Blue Jays, don’t be disappointed if either player declines the QO and explores their options on the FA market. This doesn’t mean they won’t be returning, as they both could come back on multi-year deals, but the competition and price tag for either player will most definitely increase and this could force the front office to make some tough choices.
We shall now wait and see over the next ten days on whether Marcus Semien or Robbie Ray will accept or decline the Blue Jays qualifying offer and where all sides go from there with the ongoing CBA negotiations and free agency opening up.