How did the BSOHL guys do in 2012?

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Each winter we keep tabs on which players — and sometimes which managers or even bloggers — report to spring training in The Best Shape of Their Lives.  Let’s see how the winter 2011-12 roster did compared to their 2011 seasons when, presumably, they were in terrible shape.

Note: there may have been a few stragglers after this list was compiled back in February.  If I’m missing someone, let’s talk about them in the comments:

  • Chris Tillman:  WAY better in 2012. IMPROVED
  • Franklin Gutierrez: Played better when available, but only played 40 games. DECLINED
  • Miguel Olivo: OPS decreased, games played decreased. DECLINED
  • Miguel Cabrera: Was awesome, became awesomer on the surface, but actually saw his batting average and on base percentage go down and had his worst OPS+ in three years. Still, the dude did move to third base, and that’s a way better indication of his shape than the offensive stat line: IMPROVED
  • Justin Smoak: Took a nose dive. DECLINED
  • Dexter Fowler: Improved in most offsensive categories and played more games. IMPROVED
  • Jaime Garcia:  Declined in most categories and spent much of the year injured. DECLINED
  • Miguel Tejada: 36 games in Triple-A and called it quits. Gonna go out on a limb and say that his BSOHL was an agent’s talking point. DECLINED, perhaps DIED
  • Aubrey Huff: Fell into a pit and is presumably still plummetting. His season highlight was getting injured trying to jump the dugout railing to celebrate Matt Cain’s perfect game. DECLINED
  • Vicente Padilla: Hadn’t pitched much the past couple of years but took the ball 56 times from the bullpen. Results were pretty “meh” and he remained the same irritable SOB he always has been, but just in terms of durability one has to say he improved, yes? IMPROVED
  • Carlos Zambrano: He pitched in 35 games and didn’t cause any riots or anything, even when demoted to the bullpen. Still, a stiff back limited his innings and effectiveness. I’m going to go with NO CHANGE.
  • Yonder Alonso: Weird for a guy as young as he is to even make the BSOHL claim. He was adequate at times in his first full season of action, but his ballpark and the playing time certainly exposed him. He did lose some weight over the offseason I guess, so it was a legit claim of BSOHL, but we need more data to see if he improved. For now: NO CHANGE.
  • Carlos Gutierrez: Spent the whole season in the minors again, but his “whole season” was 10 relief starts before a shoulder injury ended his season in July. Then he was waived. Gonna say that he was not in the BSOHL at any time in 2012. DECLINED
  • Mark Teixeira: Was injured and hit worse for most of the season when he did play. DECLINED
  • Dmitri Young: He actually had no real chance to make a major league roster, but given his dramatic weight loss, he certainly was in the BSOHL. And based on this picture from last night, he has kept it off.  Life is more important than baseball, and Young is taking charge of his life. IMPROVED
  • Yoenis Cespedes: I can’t remember the basis for this claim, but given that he exceeded most reasonable expectations, I’d say he IMPROVED
  • Phil Hughes: He frustrated Yankees fans at times in 2012, but he was healthy most of the year, pitched nearly 200 innings and bounced back from a disastrous 2011. IMPROVED
  • Brett Cecil: Didn’t make the Jays out of camp and the was demoted again to Las Vegas after some time in Toronto. DECLINED
  • Bill Hall: Multiple signings — Yankees, Orioles — and a DFA by the Orioles to Triple-A where he really didn’t hit like he needed to.  He’s done, it seems. He, Miguel Tejada and Aubrey Huff should go open a bar somewhere and make the BSOHL Cocktail their feature drinks. DECLINED

So there you have it.  It’s almost enough to suggest that, when someone says they’re in the Best Shape of His Life, they may not actually be.  Troubling, I’ll admit, but let’s not stop keeping track of it.

If you see a BSOHL claim this offseason, be sure to raise the alarm with the HardballTalk BSOHL Strike 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.