The St. Louis Cardinals announced they have made qualifying offers to outfielder Jason Heyward and right-handed pitcher John Lackey.
What exactly does that mean?
It means the club has extended a one year deal worth $15.8 million to each free agent. That salary is determined every year by an average of the top 125 salaries from the previous season in baseball.
It also protects the Cardinals. For example, in the case of 26 year old Heyward, we all know he is not going to take a one-year deal. The Cardinals have already expressed an interest in trying to secure a long term deal with him. He enjoyed his first season in St. Louis. However, if both sides don’t reach an agreement and Heyward signs with another team, the Cardinals are awarded a draft pick as compensation.
That’s how the club drafted Michael Wacha…with a compensation pick from Albert Pujols’ signing with the Angels.
Lackey’s offering of a one-year $15.8 million dollar deal is interesting. If I’m looking at this the right way, it tells me the Cardinals are expecting another club to sign a 37-year old to more than a one year deal and for more than $15.8 million. Otherwise, why wouldn’t take this one year big payout?
Is there really another team in baseball that would take that chance to burn a lot of money for that old of a pitcher? The Cardinals must be banking on his numbers, where he tied a career-best with 33 starts in 2015 while posting a 13-10 record with a 2.77 ERA. He ranked among National League pitching leaders in wins (13, T12th), earned run average (2.77, 7th), innings pitched (218.0, 6th) and quality starts (26, 4th), while setting a career-high and tied for the Major League lead with 29 double plays induced.
In my opinion, anything over a one-year agreement is playing with fire for a guy that age, regardless of what he did in 2014. Perhaps there is a team out there that will fork over big money? The Cardinals must be looking for additional draft picks and are willing to gamble.
Or, are the Cardinals that uncertain about there starting rotation that they are willing to put Lackey back in that pay scale that rivals the deal he struck with Boston when he was 31?