Qualifying Offers 2015 Part 1: Eligible Rangers
Now that the World Series Crown has been seized by Kansas City, the players and coaching staff get to go spend some time with their families and it’s time for the executives to go to work. Front Offices have already been at work across baseball, making decisions about managerial and coaching vacancies, but now a countdown begins towards the first decisions that need to be made regarding players. The first deadline that needs to be watched is the Qualifying Offer deadline.
Five days from the end of the World Series, Friday, November 6th, a decision must be made as to whether a team wants to tender eligible players a Qualifying Offer. From that point, the players have one week, until Friday, November 13th, to accept or decline that offer. Here are some key points to remember about Major League Baseball’s Qualifying Offer:
- The Qualifying Offer is a one-year contract worth the average of the top 125 salaries in Major League Baseball. Which means, for this year, the offer is a one-year, $15.8 million contract. This is up half a million from last year.
- Players who were traded in-season between teams are not eligible to receive a qualifying offer.
- If a player declines the Qualifying Offer, he may still sign with the team that tendered the offer.
- Should the player choose to sign with another team, that team forfeits its first round pick in the next year’s draft. The team that tendered the Offer then receives a compensatory pick.
- The teams with the Top 10 picks in the draft, also known as the teams that finished the season with the 10 worst records in baseball, are protected from surrendering their draft picks. Should they sign a player that declined a Qualifying Offer, they give up their second round picks. This year, those teams are the Phillies, Reds, Braves, Rockies, Brewers, Athletics, Marlins, Padres, Tigers and White Sox.
Keep the above guidelines in mind when you consider your Texas Rangers. This season, Jon Daniels and company have a couple of interesting scenarios to consider when it comes to offering the one-year contract. Not one player in the history of the Qualifying Offer (begun after 2012) has accepted, but the Rangers have two players eligible to receive the contract. We’ll look at these two here and delve into potential targets who could receive Qualifying Offers that could attract the Rangers next time.
- 2015 Salary: $14 million – $4 from Milwaukee Brewers, $10 from Texas Rangers
- 2015 Stats: 13-11, 3.42 ERA, 33 Starts, 184.1 IP, 1.416 WHIP, 5.9 K/9, 1.44 GO/AO
To say Yovani Gallardo pitched to the average would be, well, right about right. The 29-year-old Fort Worth native did just about what was expected of him – he stayed healthy, pitched at least 180 innings and made at least 30 starts (for the seventh year straight), won double digit games, and pitched to contact. His continuing trend of decreasing strikeouts continued, as he only registered 121 punch-outs, his lowest total since his first two seasons in baseball. The lower number of strikeouts came with an increased hits per nine innings number of 9.4, a career high. Because Gallardo pitched to contact, though, he recorded his best ground-out-to-fly-out ratio.
As a result of that, the Rangers have an interesting situation on their hands. It is likely that Gallardo pursues a multi-year contract, but it’s also entirely likely that he doesn’t find a team willing to pay a middle-of-the-rotation starter a better Average Annual Value of more than $15.8 million. That, in itself, would be a raise over what he made this past year. Since his peripheral stats would seem to level off right where they were in 2015, and with the other higher-profile, quality names in the free agent market this year (Doug Fister, Jordan Zimmermann, Hisashi Iwakuma, Zack Greinke, Jeff Samardzija, Johnny Cueto, and a plethora of other names), Gallardo could choose to stay in Texas and explore a weaker starting pitching free agent market next year.
Remember that Texas lost a lot of prospects in the Cole Hamels deal. Therein lies the rub for the Rangers, in that if they offer the contract and Gallardo chooses to go elsewhere, Daniels gets another draft pick with which to play around. Yovani Gallardo might be the player most likely to accept the Qualifying Offer since its inception, but is keeping Gallardo in the rotation for 2016 part of the Rangers’ plans? Maybe not, but the Rangers certainly don’t want to get nothing for letting him walk.
- 2015 Salary: $4 million
- 2015 Stats: 17-9, 4.66 ERA, 33 Starts, 204.2 IP, 1.236 WHIP, 6.2 K/9, .60 GO/FO
Colby Lewis proved to all of baseball not only that there can be a professional playing career after a hip resurfacing injury, there can be a successful professional playing career. In his first full season since coming back from not just the hip injury, but also a flexor tendon repair, the 35-year old Lewis achieved career bests in stamina-related stats that nobody could have thought possible – mostly because he was never 100% healthy at any point in his career. During the end-of-season interview with Jon Daniels and manager Jeff Banister, it was learned that Lewis wasn’t even 100% healthy this year, as he pitched the majority of the season with a torn meniscus in his right knee. That he performed how he did with that knee problem and his hip and elbow held up is unreal. It’s that sort of leadership, grit, and performance that the Texas Rangers would absolutely love to keep around.
But would they want to keep it around at $11 million more than what he earned in 2015? I would venture a guess and say probably not. Despite leading the team in wins and innings pitched, Lewis is not a $16 million pitcher. On top of that, Lewis is likely to explore more than just a one-year contract, having proved not just to the other 29 clubs but also to himself that he can still pitch at a premium level. It doesn’t seem that Texas would want to explore that avenue with Lewis, especially with the potential of Gallardo accepting the Qualifying Offer. With the return of Yu Darvish and barring a trade, Lewis could be the odd man out in a 2016 Texas Rangers rotation.
As it stands, Lewis appears to be headed elsewhere. The problem is that Texas would be letting a good pitcher, who can be a great example and steady rock for the younger members of the pitching staff, walk without getting anything back. Truthfully, it would more of an emotional loss than anything for the Rangers, but, as noted above, the cost would simply be too great for them to keep the “Colbra.”
Would you offer either one of these pitchers a Qualifying Offer? Consider the pros and cons of what would happen if each accepted or declined. Next time, we’ll explore some of the other free agents throughout baseball that can receive Qualifying Offers that Texas could look to acquire.