If you like deadlines -- and who doesn't -- the next 17 hours have a treat for you. MLB teams have to make qualifying offers to their free agents by 5 p.m. EST. Free agents who don't receive qualifying offers will then hit the open market with no strings attached at 12:01 a.m. EST on Tuesday.
The first deadline will pass without consequence for the White Sox. Paul Konerko and Gavin Floyd are their only free agents, and it's safe to say neither is worth the $14.1 million qualifying offer.
But there are a few potential White Sox targets whose markets could be affected by the qualifying offer. Curtis Granderson is a prime example.
If the Yankees know whether they're going to give the qualifying offer to Granderson, they haven't tipped their hand. Luxury tax concerns make a one-year, $14.1 million contract harder to absorb than usual. If they go ahead with it and Granderson declines, the Yankees will get a draft pick from the team that signs him. If the Yankees don't want to risk Granderson accepting it, he'll head into free agency with no strings attached, which normally increases the competition.
(For what it's worth, Granderson participated in the "Shoot The Puck" contest at the Blackhawks game Sunday night.)
Or there's Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Jon Heyman reported that the Red Sox will make qualifying offers to Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury, but Saltalamacchia is undetermined. If Boston indeed takes a pass, Saltamacchia may be a not-so-cheap cheaper alternative to Brian McCann.
(It's a lot easier to build a farm system like Boston's when your best players hit free agency with some semblance of career momentum.)
The White Sox' third-overall pick is protected, so they could theoretically be more aggressive than other teams in pursuing a free agent who received a qualifying offer. That said, Rick Hahn has made draft-pick conservation a staple of any discussions about philosophy, and that's why he pursued Jose Abreu so aggressively. If he missed on Abreu, the most alluring remaining hitters would all take a second-round pick to sign.
The Sox will remain an interested spectator today, but it doesn't seem like free agency is an exciting venture on either side of the offer coin. They would seemingly want to hold onto their picks, but coming off a 99-loss season with lots of roster work to do, it's hard to make an outstanding full-throated argument for any of the impact free agents, especially in a non-offer bidding war.
Even third parties see it the same way. Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors posted his list of top 50 free agents with predictions. He guesses that the Sox will sign only Saltalamacchia, and even then, he's not that convinced it's a fit.
The Detroit Tigers chose former Albany-Colonie Yankee Brad Ausmus to replace Jim Leyland, and you can consider him as safe "unsafe" choice. The classic high-IQ clubhouse-leading catcher is 44, and he hasn't managed a game or coached for an American pro ball team, but he did lead Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic in 2013. He also spent the last four years as a special assistant to the GM in San Diego, so he's not quite off-the-couch cold. The Bless You Boys consensus seems to be thumbs up, qualified by the lack of a track record.
Philip Humber will try to shake his nearly two-year-long perfect game hangover with Oakland on a minor-league contract. He went 0-8 with a 7.90 ERA over 17 games, seven of which were starts (he went 0-7).
Masahiro Tanaka's season -- and maybe his Japanese career -- closed in a crazy fashion. He lost Game 6 of the Japan Series after winning all of his previous 26 decisions this season, but came back to close out Game 7 and seal the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles' victory over the Yomiuri Giants.