Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
After the Arizona Diamondbacks exercised as expected club options on relievers Brad Ziegler and Josh Collmenter for the 2016 season, the team is left with only two free agents to make decisions on: reliever David Hernandez, and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Before we get into anything specific on either Hernandez or Saltalamacchia, I am going to discuss the pros and cons of a concept that you are going to hear a lot about over the next couple of days: the qualifying offer.
The qualifying offer was first introduced into the CBA prior to the 2013 season. The basic idea is both well thought out, and well intended, and in general it has been well executed.
The qualifying offer is computed by taking the average of the top 125 salaries from the previous season. This offseason, it will be $15.8 million.
If a team wants protection from the loss of a potential free agent, than they can extend a qualifying offer to that player. If the player declines, then the team is off the hook and on top of that they receive a compensation draft pick. Which round the pick is from depends on if the team has protected draft picks or not.
Where clubs run into trouble is the slight possibility of a player accepting a qualifying offer, and staying with their current club instead of talking to other teams.
An example best illustrates the issue with this. Let’s say the Cardinals extend a qualifying offer to John Lackey this offseason, which could very well happen and let’s say he would rather just stay with the Cardinals even if it means a one-year deal because its best for his family. He accepts the qualifying offer.
On the one hand, because Adam Wainwright was out for the season, Lackey was a valuable piece in the Cardinals rotation. On the other hand, Lackey is 37 years old and reaching the tail end of his career. Lets say he declines in 2016. He only made a little over $507,000 last season. St. Louis would be stuck paying him way more money than he should be making.
On top of that, while the majority of free agents aren’t offered a qualifying offer, no player has ever taken a qualifying offer. If a player declines (which has been the case in every situation), that limits the player’s value in free agency because of the draft pick attachment. This was the case for Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales last offseason.
It’s time to take a look at both of the D-backs remaining free agents and decide if the front office should extend qualifying offers to either of them.
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