Shohei Ohtani and Cody Bellinger are just two of the seven free agents who turned down the $20.325 million qualifying offer from their former teams. Doing so makes them free agents.
Even the Los Angeles Angels and the Chicago Cubs can join the bidding war, but they will likely pay more to retain their services. The qualifying offer is based on the average annual value of the top 125 contracts.
Teams that made a qualifying offer can get an additional pick in the July 2024 amateur draft, granted that the player signed with another team before draft day. Conversely, the team signing the players may lose up to two draft picks. Only ten out of 131 qualifying offers have been accepted since it was implemented in 2012.
Ohtani is set to sign a lucrative contract after a magnificent season with the Angels. While his squad didn’t make it to the American League playoffs, he led all Major League Baseball players in slugging percentage (.654) and on-base plus slugging percentage (1.066).
The Japanese sensation also led the American League in home runs (44) and total bases (325). He also had a .304 batting average, 151 hits, and 95 runs batted in 135 games. Those numbers earned him a Silver Slugger Award. Ohtani also finished with a 3.14 ERA and collected 167 strikeouts in 132 innings pitched.
As for his free agency, DraftKings sportsbook favors the Los Angeles Dodgers at +110. The Chicago Cubs are second at +350, while the San Francisco Giants are third at +650. The two New York teams, the Yankees and the Mets, are both at +800. Defending World Series champions Texas Rangers are at +900.
Meanwhile, Bellinger finished his first and possibly his last season in Chicago with a .307 batting average, a .356 on-base percentage, and a .525 slugging percentage. The center fielder and first baseman had 26 home runs and 97 RBIs in 499 at-bats through 130 games.
Other players who did not sign their qualifying offer are 2023 National League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell and fellow pitcher Josh Hader (San Diego Padres). Aaron Nola (Philadelphia Phillies), Matt Chapman (Toronto Blue Jays), and Sonny Gray (Minnesota Twins) did not sign their qualifying offer as well.