The San Diego Padres announced on Friday afternoon that they would be extending qualifying offers to both Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy. For this season, the amount of the one year qualifying offer contract is 15.8 million, if any player chooses to accept. Both players have until next Friday, November 13, to either accept or decline the one year offer. If either or both the two players decline, the Padres will get at least one compensation pick, or two picks if both decline, at the end of the first round in next year’s Amateur draft in June. For some added perspective, no player has accepted the one year qualifying offer since the new rules were established beginning in the 2012-2013 offseason.
While it was fairly obvious that the Padres would be offering Upton a qualifying offer, and likely getting the compensation pick when he left via free agency, it was still uncertain whether the Padres would do the same for Ian Kennedy. It makes logical sense for the Padres to offer Kennedy the qualifying offer, given his resurgent second half to the 2015 season and increased value on the open market this offseason.
For Justin Upton, it was a no brainer from the day he was acquired that the Padres would offer him a qualifying offer upon the completion of the 2015 season, unless he was traded at the deadline. Upton, at only 28 years old coming off another productive season, expects to demand a hefty sum on the open market, a sum the Padres seem to be unable, or at least unable, to pay. It is likely that Upton can command an average salary of over 20 million on a five or six year deal, so for him declining the qualifying offer is as close to 100% guaranteed as possible.
On the other hand, Ian Kennedy seemed to be a less likely qualifying offer candidate, and faces a more difficult decision. Kennedy will be turning 31 years old next month, and is coming off a year where he struggled mightily for much of the first half of the season. Prior to his strong second half to the 2015 season, it appeared unlikely that Kennedy would be worth the qualifying offer, given his decreased value to both the Padres and the market. Kennedy replenished much of that value, and now stands to make a decent sum on the open market, should he forgo the qualifying offer from the Padres.
With an agent like Scott Boras, Kennedy will definitely command a multi-year deal for a decent sum of money. Given his age, Kennedy is most likely looking for long term financial stability, which makes the likelihood of him accepting the qualifying offer unlikely. With that being said, the compensation pick attached to his name this offseason could dampen his market, which actually leaves the distinct possibility that Kennedy could test the free agent waters and then come back to San Diego anyway.
If a guess had to be made, it seems pretty clear that both Upton and Kennedy will decline the qualifying offers that they have been extended and test the free agent waters this offseason. While Upton is almost certainly a goner given the large sum of money he will command on the open market, Kennedy’s value may be slightly decreased given the compensation pick attached to his signing. The Padres will certainly get at least one compensation pick in next year’s June draft for Justin Upton, but could end up with Ian Kennedy back in the rotation for next year on a short or long term contract.