Qualifying offer for free agents to jump to $16.7M this winter

The qualifying offer for Major League Baseball free agents is expected to jump from $15.88 million last winter to $16.7 million this winter, sources tell ESPN's Buster Olney.

If a player who is set to become a free agent played the entire season with one team, that team is able to extend a qualifying offer to him. The qualifying offer is a one-year deal worth the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball. If a player accepts a qualifying offer, the deal is done.

But if a player declines a qualifying offer, he becomes a free agent. Any team that signs the free-agent player loses its top draft pick -- if it's not one of the top 10 draft picks, which are protected. The team that loses the player is awarded a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds.

This is the second-largest jump in a qualifying offer between two years; the biggest rise was from 2013 to 2014, when it climbed from $14.1 million to $15.3 million. Qualifying offers were first extended to potential free agents in 2012.