The first domino of an important offseason for the Minnesota Twins is about to fall.
On Monday the team officially extended a $20.325M qualifying offer to Sonny Gray, which now starts the clock on the first big decision of the team’s offseason.
Gray has until November 14th to mull the offer over, but the expectation is that he’ll decline it and hit free agency for the first time in his career. It’s pretty stunning when you think about it, as Gray is 34 years old and entering his 12th season in the Majors but this is the first time he’ll get to choose where he plays ball.
The offer isn’t a small amount of money, and it’s in line with what Gray’s market value is, but he’s likely to get more money and a longer contract. The qualifying offer is only good for one season, where Gray is projected at three-years and closer to $60 million if not more.
Twins extend QO to Sonny Gray, but what happens next?
While he has time to change his mind, Gray is expected to reject the qualifying offer. It’s not a huge surprise, as he’s said from the start that he’s excited about testing free agency and seeing what that sort of journey entails.
He’s hitting the market at the absolute perfect time for him to cash in on the season he just had, which objectively rules. Minnesota would love to have him back — and there’s a chance the two sides hammer out a long-term contract — but he’s earned the right to get paid top dollar and choose where he gets to pitch rather than accept a trade.
That’s how he ended up with the Twins, as he was traded from Oakland to New York to Cincinnati and then Minnesota.
Gray has said that money isn’t the driving factor behind his free agency decision, as his family will take center stage in what he ends up doing. That being said, he’s in for a lucrative winter and it might be one that the Twins aren’t a part of.
Minnesota won’t end up holding an empty bag if Gray decides to reject the offer and leave. If he signs with another team this offseason, the Twins will get draft pick compensation
The Twins have begun moving pieces to replace Gray with the expectation that he’s going to test free agency and get priced out of their range. Minnesota is expected to shop players like Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, and potentially Edouard Julien to try and secure another top-end starter to pair with Pablo Lopez.
Gray returning shouldn’t be ruled out, but it would be more surprising if he came back than if he signed a big contract somewhere else.