Monday’s 5 pm deadline to submit qualifying offers to pending MLB free agents has come and gone. Among the ten names who received such offers are those of Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, two of the premier free agents of the 2019 class.

This year’s qualifying offer value for a one-year contract is $17.8 million, which is below the market value that either Cole or Strasburg should receive this winter. Therefore, it is more than likely that both ace pitchers will turn down their qualifying offers and test the waters of free agency.

Just where will the duo land? The sharks are already circling the waters in anticipation of their expected rejection of the qualifying offers with two surprising names being linked with mega-money deals for Cole and Strasburg.

Houston's Gerrit Cole allowed only one run on three hits over seven innings to silence Washington batters and help the Astros defeat the Nationals 7-1 on Sunday in game five of the World Series Houston's Gerrit Cole allowed only one run on three hits over seven innings to silence Washington batters and help the Astros defeat the Nationals 7-1 in Game 5 of the World Series. Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Patrick Smith

Philadelphia Phillies Keen on Gerrit Cole

The Phils already made headlines this offseason by naming Joe Girardi as their new manager. Now they look to make some waves in the free agency market.

This past season the Phillies starting rotation was very average with Aaron Nola being their ace. Nola finished with a 12-7 record, keeping a 3.87 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP and striking out 229. Compare that with Cole who went 20-5, kept a 2.50 ERA, a .89 WHIP and whiffed an MLB-high 326 batters.

Landing 29-year-old Cole would be a coup for Philadelphia, plain and simple, he would transform a mediocre rotation into a formidable one overnight. As such, the Phillies are making him their number one priority during free agency.

According to The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, “The Phillies have scouting meetings this week that will further shape their offseason plans. Cole will hit free agency as one of the most coveted pitchers in recent history. The Phillies will plot two scenarios for this winter - one with Cole and one without him.”

Other possible destinations include the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels and his current club, the Houston Astros.

San Diego Padres the Dark Horses in the Stephen Strasburg Sweepstakes

The San Diego Padres are very much a small-market team. However, they have not always acted like one during free agency. They gave both Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer big-money contracts in recent seasons and have done so in the past with the likes of Wil Myers, Bleacher Report noted.

This offseason may see history repeat itself as sources from within the Padres have indicated they will throw their hats in the ring in the Stephen Strasburg sweepstakes.

The Washington Nationals ace walked away from the remaining four years and $100 million left on his contract. That total was even richer than the $17.8 million qualifying offer the Nats tendered  Monday, so he is content with gambling on himself.

What that means is that Strasburg will more than likely hold out for something greater than the $25 million per year average he left on the table by walking away from his current contract. With the Padres committed to just under $120 million next season, they could make the money work.

As per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, “Multiple people in the organization indicated over the past few days that the team will be in position to make a run at Stephen Strasburg.”

The Padres face competition from the Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers for Stephen Strasburg’s signature.