The Orioles made qualifying offers to free agents Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, ensuring the club of compensatory draft picks in case they sign elsewhere.
The Orioles made qualifying offers to free agents Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, ensuring the club will receive compensatory draft picks if they sign elsewhere.
Chen and Davis were certain to receive qualifying offers, but there was some uncertainty as to whether the Orioles would make the one-year, $15.8 million offer to Wieters following a season in which he was coming off Tommy John surgery.
"After carefully considering all the facts of tendering a [qualifying offer] to each player," executive vice president Dan Duquette said, "the Orioles decided the best way to continue to field a championship club every year was to extend offers to Davis, Wieters and Chen."
All three players are expected to decline the offers and test the free-agent market.
Players have a week to either accept or decline the offers -- the qualifying offer has never been accepted in 34 previous instances -- and for each player who declines, the offering club receives a compensatory draft pick following the first round in next June's draft.
Also, the teams that sign players tied to a qualifying offer forfeit their highest unprotected draft pick in next year's draft, which can affect the players' market value.
The Orioles did not make qualifying offers to two other free agents, right-handed reliever Darren O'Day and infielder/outfielder Steve Pearce. Outfielder Gerardo Parra was not eligible for one because he was a midseason trade acquisition.
Starting Saturday, free agents are permitted to sign with other teams. The Orioles held exclusive negotiating rights with their six free agents this week, but nothing has materialized with any of them.
Davis led the majors in home runs (47) for the second time in the past three years, winning his second Most Valuable Oriole award. The Orioles have made it clear that retaining Davis is one of their top offseason priorities.
Chen was the club's most dependable starting pitcher, going 11-8 with a 3.34 ERA in 31 starts over 191 1/3 innings. Chen, a Taiwanese lefty who came to the Orioles after pitching in Japan, was 46-32 with a 3.72 ERA in four seasons with the Orioles.
Wieters' return from June 2014 Tommy John elbow reconstruction was slowed. He didn't rejoin the club until June and only started at catcher back-to-back days five times this season. Still, Wieters tops a weak free-agent catching market.
The Orioles also added left-hander Chris Jones to the organization's 40-man roster. Jones was 8-8 with a 2.94 ERA in 30 games and a career-high 22 starts for Triple-A Norfolk this season. He is currently 2-1 with a 1.72 ERA in three starts pitching in the Dominican Winter League.