While there are plenty of rumors swirling about the San Diego Padres lowering their payroll for next season, it's not out of the question that the team would be interested in pursuing names like Cody Bellinger or J.D. Martinez to upgrade their roster. However, those players and other hot names on the market will likely come with a qualifying offer attached, meaning the Padres will have to pay a heavy toll in addition to whatever salary they must fork over.
What will it cost the San Diego Padres to sign a player with a Qualifying Offer this offseason?
Because the Padres are one of eight teams (joining the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees) who will pay a Competitive Balance Tax, they will also be a part of a group that will have a disadvantage over other teams pursuing players with Qualifying Offers attached. According to this article from MLBTradeRumors.com, "For signing a QO-rejecting free agent, these clubs would have to give up $1MM in international bonus pool money, as well as two draft picks — their second- and fifth-highest selections in the 2024 draft."
Those penalties, along with San Diego's reported plan to lower payroll, could keep the team from pursuing names like Bellinger, Martinez, Shohei Ohtani, Sonny Gray and others who are among the leading candidates to be pegged with a Qualifying Offer this offseason. According to The New York Post, only 13 of the 124 players who have been extended a qualifying offer has accepted the one-year deal.
According to reports, this year's Qualifying Offer is expected to be a MLB-record $20.5 million. That is up from last season's $19.65 million.
This year's crop of free agents will become official the day after the end of the World Series. Five days after the conclusion of the World Series is the deadline for Qualifying Offers to be extended.