Under the rules of baseball's new collective bargaining agreement, teams that make a qualifying offer worth the average of the top 125 salaries—$13.3 million for 2013—to their free agents receive a compensatory first-round draft pick from the club that signs those players.
Nine players received qualifying offers after the 2012 season ended. But the price of a first-round pick severely restricted the market for some of those players. Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse still haven't signed with anyone. Adam LaRoche and Rafael Soriano received few offers as well.
As agent Scott Boras told the Associated Press in November, qualifying offers will likely be given to only the elite free agents. Also, teams have to be with their teams for a full season to get a qualifying offer. That's why Zack Greinke didn't receive one from the Los Angeles Angels, for example.
Another consideration is that if a player accepts that qualifying offer, his team will have to pay him that money. As a result, MLB clubs can't just make the offer because they want the draft pick. Teams have to actually want that player back. Otherwise, it's a risk.
Which players among the 2014 free-agent class could find themselves in a similar circumstance next winter? Here are seven prospective free agents who stand a strong chance of getting a qualifying offer after the 2013 season.