This baseball offseason has provided so many distractions and diversions that we’ve neglected one of the hottest topics of recent winters. Thanks to multiple manager searches and the sagas of the Braves, Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton, the qualifying offer has been more forgotten than George Clooney’s portrayal of Batman. It’s about time to bring this Hot Stove curiosity back on stage, though, and see whether it returns with a vengeance or, by virtue of its new parameters, winds up as kinder and gentler. The ramifications can run all the way into next winter’s Yankees vs. Dodgers financial slugfest. Of the nine free agents who received the qualifying offer of a guaranteed, one-year, $17.4-million contract — they all rejected it — only one, Carlos Santana, has signed with a team. The first baseman left the Indians for a three-year, $60 million contract with the Phillies, who gave up their second-round pick in the 2018 amateur draft as well as $500,000 in international bonus pool money in the 2018-19 signing period. Since Santana procured more than $50 million, the Indians get a sandwich-round pick in next year’s draft. Santana outperformed expectations in annual average value, if not necessarily years. And the Phillies, their compensation determined by their status as a revenue-sharing payor, actually paid a higher price than they would have a year ago, when such acquisition cost the draft pick but not the bonus-pool money. Maybe it’ll be that simple the rest of the way for the remaining eight qualified free agents (Jake Arrieta, Lorenzo Cain, Alex Cobb, Wade Davis, Greg Holland, Lance Lynn and Mike Moustakas): The relaxed penalties for which the players pushed will result in less pain and more pleasure.