Dan Szymborski of ESPN (Insider-only) looks at the cost of losing a draft pick, and it's quite high. The No. 20 overall pick in the draft is worth $23 million, Szymborski writes. So you can see the problem when you're looking at a player like Kendrys Morales, who's only barely worth that much even without considering the draft pick issue, or the fact that he's probably more of an American-League player. The Pirates pick at No. 25 this year, not No. 20, so their pick is slightly less valuable, but there's still really no way for the Pirates to even sign someone like Morales without massively overpaying for him, given the draft-pick issue. The same goes for Nelson Cruz, who ZiPS thinks is even less valuable than Morales.
Teams that have already given up their first-round pick or who have protected first-rounders are thus at a big advantage in this market. A good example would be the Blue Jays, who have two first-round picks, both of them protected, and would therefore only have to give up the No. 49 overall pick to sign a free agent who declined a qualifying offer. The Jays could end up signing either Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana (both of whom, unlike Morales and Cruz, have significant value despite the draft-pick issue). More and more, it looks like Morales really should have accepted the qualifying offer. I still would be shocked if the Pirates signed him.