MESA, Ariz. – Now that his free agency Odyssey has finally ended, Dexter Fowler has a clear and strong message for the powers that be during upcoming negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement:
“The whole qualifying offer thing, it’s flawed,” said Fowler, the outfielder who on Thursday signed a one-year, $13 million deal to return to the Cubs. “It needs to change. It definitely needs to change.”
Fowler joins a lengthy list of “victims” of the system put into place four years ago. Instead of a free agent classification system to determine draft pick compensation for lost free agents, teams are eligible for compensation only if they extend a “qualifying offer” (determined by averaging the top 125 salaries of the previous season).
Instead of different levels of compensation based on the assigned grade of the player (based on statistics), the current system assigns the same compensation level for any player receiving a qualifying offer.
This winter, the qualifying offer figure was set at $15.8 million.
The result has been players who are otherwise in demand languishing on the market into spring training as teams balk at giving up picks.
“We’re veterans,” Fowler said. “And then they’re talking about a draft pick, an [unproven] guy, that you don’t even know what’s going to happen to him. And you’re [suffering] the consequences.”
Speaking of Strong Messages…
Fowler’s agent, Casey Close, issued a statement Thursday blasting the Baltimore Orioles and media for reports this week of a done deal between Fowler and the Orioles (reportedly for three years, $33 million).
The statement referred to “reprehensible behavior” by the team and media for “recklessly spreading rumors” and insisted, as Fowler had earlier in the day, that Fowler never agreed to terms and “did not come close to signing” with the Orioles.