Gerrit Cole officially became a free agent Thursday when he declined a qualifying offer from the Houston Astros.
Ten pending free agents received qualifying offers of a one-year, $17.8 million contract from their current teams on Nov. 4.
Two of the 10 accepted the offer, making them signed players for 2020: Minnesota Twins right-hander Jake Odorizzi and Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.
The other eight players declined the qualifying offer and will head into free agency: Cole, Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg and third baseman Anthony Rendon, San Francisco Giants left-handers Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, Atlanta Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna and New York Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler.
For those eight, their 2019 team will receive draft-pick compensation if they sign with a new team -- and that scenario already applies in the case of Smith.
The 30-year-old reliever immediately moved on from the Giants, signing a three-year, $39 million contract with the Atlanta Braves. Per multiple media reports, the deal features a $13 million option for 2023 with a $1 million buyout.
Smith converted 34 of 38 save opportunities this year while going 6-0 with a 2.76 ERA in 63 games. He struck out 96 in 65 1/3 innings.
Cole, 29, finished 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA, going 16-0 with a 1.78 ERA over his last 22 starts. The right-hander also topped the majors with 326 strikeouts, and he was third in the AL with 212 1/3 innings pitched.
Rendon, 29, and Strasburg, 31, figure to join Cole on the short list of the winter's most coveted free agents after helping lead the Nationals to their first World Series championship.
Rendon led the majors with 126 RBIs and shared the NL lead with 44 doubles. He batted .319 with 34 homers before adding three homers and 15 RBIs in Washington's postseason run.
Strasburg was the World Series MVP after going 2-0 with a 2.51 ERA in two starts during the Nationals' seven-game win over the Astros. In the postseason overall, he went 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA in six appearances (five starts). Strasburg led the NL in wins this year while going 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA and a league-leading 209 innings pitched.
Odorizzi and Abreu became the seventh and eighth players to accept a qualifying offer out of the 90 who have had the opportunity since the current system was implemented in 2012.
Odorizzi, 29, made an All-Star team for the first time this year, posting a career-high win total while going 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 30 starts.
Abreu, 32, earned his third All-Star selection this year. He led the American League with 123 RBIs and hit .284 with a .330 on-base percentage, a .503 slugging percentage and 33 homers.