HOUSTON -- The Astros didn't extend qualifying offers to any of their free agents, which wasn't a surprise. None of the World Series champions' five free agents -- designated hitter Carlos Beltran, relievers Tyler Clippard, Luke Gregerson and Francisco Liriano and outfielder Cameron Maybin -- are likely to return next season.
Major League Baseball's free-agent signing period is underway, and teams had until 4 p.m. CT Monday to extend qualifying offers to any of their free agents. For 2018, the qualifying offer is a one-year contract worth $17.4 million (the amount is the mean salary of MLB's 125 highest-paid players). Players who received a qualifying offer have 10 days -- until Nov. 16 -- to accept or reject the offer.
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If a player accepts the offer, like Colby Rasmus did with the Astros two years ago, he is signed at the designated salary. Players who decline the offer enter free agency but have Draft-pick compensation attached to them.
If such a player signs with another team, the team that loses him receives a Draft pick the following year, generally following Competitive Balance Round B, which comes after the second round. Meanwhile, the team that signs the player is subject to surrendering one or more Draft picks, although a team's highest first-round pick is exempt from forfeiture.
Nine players received qualifying offers this year, including Cubs closer Wade Davis, who could be a target of the Astros. Davis, 32, went 32-for-33 in save chances with a 2.30 ERA this past season, appearing in 59 games. The Astros have yet to sign a player who was given a qualifying offer, but general manager Jeff Luhnow has said in previous years he wouldn't be against it, even if it meant losing a Draft pick.
A free agent who's not attached to a Draft pick the Astros could pursue is left-hander Mike Minor, who appeared in 65 games for the Royals this past season, posting a 2.55 ERA while striking out 88 in 77 2/3 innings. Minor, who held lefties to a .163 batting, would solve Houston's need for an effective lefty in the 'pen.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.