In Dempster for Delgado, the Braves are going all-in for this year

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At the moment, Ryan Dempster stands a much better opportunity to help the Braves catch the Nationals or, at the very least, make the playoffs than does Randall Delgado.  Over the next five years — the time which the Cubs will control Delgado — they will almost certainly reap more value from him than Atlanta will reap from Dempster. Such is the way of trade deadline deals.

The Braves needed the rotation help now. They have the 14th best rotation in a 16 team league. Dempster has been one of the best starters in baseball this year. No, he’s not as good as his numbers in the first half indicate — no one is — but he should prove to be a far more reliable rotation presence for Atlanta between now and September.

In Delgado, the Cubs got exactly what they need: young talent.  While his season has been lackluster so far, he’s just 22 and what is acceptable for a bad team in rebuilding mode is totally different than what is acceptable for a playoff contender.  A few rough months in the bigs does not change the fact that Delgado has a bright future. Maybe not as a top-of-the-order ace, but certainly as a solid major league starter.

There have been some suggestions on Twitter today that the Braves think they have a chance to sign Dempster after the season is over and that he may be amenable. That’s noise at the moment and irrelevant noise at that. The Braves traded for him knowing that they only have the next 2+ months of Dempster guaranteed and that, if they make the playoffs with his help, the trade will have been worth it in the short term. Besides, signing Dempster to an extension following what is likely a late, mildly unexpected uptick in his performance may be a bad thing anyway and make the long term repercussions of this deal worse.

No matter what happens with Dempster, however, the Cubs can be happy with the return: a solid, young starting pitching prospect who may very well be — to use an over-used phrase — an important part of the next great Cubs team.

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.