Rumors: Vazquez, Chapman, King Felix

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With the offseason just days away, Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune is back with his latest batch of rumors to preheat the Hot Stove.



Among them, he floats Javier Vazquez
as a possible trade candidate now that Tim Hudson is expected to
finalize an extension with the Braves this week. Vazquez had one of the
most unsung seasons in the majors this season, going 15-10 with a 2.87
ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 238 strikeouts (2nd in the NL). The Braves are
looking to bolster an outfield that hit just .262/.329/.397 with a
measly .726 OPS (27th in MLB).




While I agree that the Braves should
sell-high on Vazquez, where Rogers loses me is when he names Seattle as
a potential destination for Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman. His
logic? The Mariners are possibly hoping to acquire another front-line
arm before Felix Hernandez bolts for free agency after the 2011 season.




Listen, I’m well aware that
Hernandez, represented by Alan Nero, will almost certainly test the
open market, most likely landing in New York or Boston; it’s a sad
reality of our game. However, if there was any time to make a major financial commitment to a pitcher — Chapman is rumored to be asking for $40-60
million —
King Felix is the one. Nevermind the fact that the Mariners have almost
no chance of landing the 21-year-old Chapman.




If they’re really thinking about life after King Felix, they might as well trade him for Clay Buchholz right now.

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.