Giambi is healthy, but do the A's want him back?

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Mychael Urban of MLB.com is one of my favorite beat reporters because he writes stuff like this about the A’s not activating a healthy Jason Giambi from the disabled list.
Sensing the frustration of my various colleagues who’ve been trying to get to the bottom of this whole Jason Giambi thing, I finally just came out with the question everyone wants the answer to. Point-blank, I asked Bob Geren: Will Jason be on the active roster again this year?
If the answer is yes, you say yes, right? Of course you do. That’s easy. If the answer is no, but you don’t want to admit it, you hem and haw and haw and hem. Suffice to say Geren’s answer was not yes. It was: “Promising anything in this game if difficult to do.” Draw your own conclusions.

Oakland is in last place at 47-60. Giambi is 38 years old and hit .193 with a career-worst .697 OPS through 83 games before going on the DL. There’s no real reason for the A’s to keep him around at this point, but he’s making $4 million this season, has a $6.5 million option or $1.25 million buyout for 2010, and was a superstar in Oakland at the beginning of the decade, so the situation is somewhat complicated.
Perhaps the A’s will try to keep him on the shelf for as long as possible while taking a look at minor-league veteran Tommy Everidge at first base and then give Giambi some September starts as a nice sendoff once rosters expand? Whatever the case, as Urban’s little chat with the manager shows Giambi is ready to play again and the A’s are trying to avoid making a decision on his roster status.

Report: Qualifying offer to be in the $18 million range

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According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, teams have been told that the qualifying offer to free agents this offseason will be in the $18 million range, likely $18.1 million. The value is derived by taking the average of the top 125 player salaries.

At $18.1 million, that would be $900,000 more than the previous QO, which was $17.2 million. This will impact soon-to-be free agents like Jake Arrieta, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, and Yu Darvish, among others. That also assumes that the aforementioned players aren’t traded, which would make them ineligible to receive qualifying offers. We’ve seen, increasingly, that teams aren’t willing to make a QO to an impending free agent and that trend is likely to continue this offseason.

The QO system was modified by the newest collective bargaining agreement. The compensatory pick for a team losing a player who declined a QO used to be a first-round pick. That was a penalty to both teams and players, which is why it was changed. Via MLB’s website pertaining to the QO:

A team that exceeded the luxury tax in the preceding season will lose its second- and fifth-highest selections after the first round in the following year’s Draft as well $1 million from its international bonus pool. If such a team signs multiple qualifying offer free agents, it will forfeit its third- and sixth-highest remaining picks as well.

A team that receives revenue sharing will lose its third-highest selection after the first round in the following year’s Draft. If it signs two such players, it will also forfeit its fourth-highest remaining pick.

A team that neither exceeded the luxury tax in the preceding season nor receives revenue sharing will lose its second-highest selection after the first round in the following year’s Draft as well as $500,000 from its international bonus pool. If it signs two such players, it will also forfeit its third-highest remaining pick.

Additionally, if a player who rejected a QO signs a guaranteed contract worth at least $50 million and came from a team that receives revenue sharing, that previous team will receive a compensatory pick immediately following the first round in the ensuing draft. If the contract is less than $50 million, that team will get a compensatory pick after Competitive Balance Round B. If the player’s team is over the luxury tax threshold, that team will receive a compensation pick following the fourth round. If that team neither exceeded the luxury tax nor receives revenue sharing, the compensation pick will come after Competitive Balance Round B.

Yeah, it’s a bit convoluted, but you do the best you can with a flawed system.

The Astros’ pursuit of Sonny Gray is “heating up”

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Jon Morosi of MLB Networks reports that talks are “heating up” between the Astros and Athletics on a Sonny Gray trade. Gray, obviously, would represent a big upgrade for the Astros’ rotation. He has a 3.66 ERA and has struck out 85 batters while walking 28 in 91 innings.

Morosi adds that Gray is not the only option for the Astros, as they are also talking to the Tigers about a potential acquisition of Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson. That would obviously be a much tougher deal to negotiate given Verlander’s 10/5 rights giving him veto power over any trade, not to mention the massive amount of money he’s still owed on his contract.

Also: I’m pretty sure that it’s in the MLB rules that any trade between the Tigers and the Astros has to involve Brad Ausmus, C.J. Nitkowski and Jose Lima, and that’s not possible given their current occupations and/or their deaths in 2010.