Author: Aaron Gleeman

Oakland Athletics v Boston Red Sox

Cardinals expected to target Andrew Miller


Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch writes that he’s “been told a few times” the Cardinals will pursue reliever Andrew Miller in free agency.

Trying to upgrade over the likes of Randy Choate as late-inning southpaw bullpen options makes sense, but Miller is much more than a left-handed specialist and ranks among the elite relievers in baseball. In other words, he’s going to cost a ton.

This season Miller threw 62 innings with a 2.02 ERA and 103/17 K/BB ratio while holding opponents to a .153 batting average and .456 OPS. And he has the dominant raw stuff to match those great numbers.

Pablo Sandoval rejects qualifying offer from Giants

Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval has rejected the qualifying offer from the Giants, turning down a one-year, $15.3 million contract in order to hit the open market as a free agent.

It was an easy decision for Sandoval, who should have no trouble securing a multi-year contract for similar annual money and can still re-sign with the Giants if he wants to do so. San Francisco will receive draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.

Sandoval hit .279 with 16 homers and a .739 OPS in 157 games this season. He hasn’t been able to duplicate his big 2011 production, posting a sub-.800 OPS in three straight years, but Sandoval has been a solidly above-average hitter during that time and is young for a free agent at 28.

Twins “have already expressed interest” in Torii Hunter

Oakland Athletics v Detroit Tigers

Last month when Torii Hunter indicated that he’ll likely put off retirement and return for a 19th season I suggested that a return to Minnesota as the Twins’ left fielder might make sense for both sides.

And now Darren Wolfson of 1500-ESPN in Minnesota reports that, sure enough, the Twins “have already expressed interest” in Hunter on the first day they can do so with free agents.

Hunter has made it clear that he’d like to re-sign with the Tigers and, if that doesn’t happen, presumably he’d like to spend his age-39 season playing for a contender. Minnesota does not fit that description, but if contenders don’t show much interest in Hunter the Twins could emerge as a viable destination.

His defense has slipped from Gold Glove-caliber in center field to below average in right field, but Hunter hit .286 with 17 homers and a .765 OPS in 142 games. He was drafted by the Twins in 1993 and played for them until 2007, when he left as a free agent.

Roundup of players to receive $15.3 million qualifying offers

Division Series - Baltimore Orioles v Detroit Tigers - Game Three

We’ve been tracking the $15.3 million qualifying offers as news about them has rolled in for each player, but now that the deadline has passed here’s a complete list of every free agent who received a qualifying offer.

Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays (HBT write-up)

Nelson Cruz, Orioles (HBT write-up)

Michael Cuddyer, Rockies (HBT write-up)

Francisco Liriano, Pirates (HBT write-up)

Russell Martin, Pirates (HBT write-up)

Victor Martinez, Tigers (HBT write-up)

Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers (HBT write-up)

David Robertson, Yankees (HBT write-up)

Pablo Sandoval, Giants (HBT write-up)

Ervin Santana, Braves (HBT write-up)

Max Scherzer, Tigers (HBT write-up)

James Shields, Royals (HBT write-up)

Players can accept or decline the one-year, $15.3 million contract to return to their original team. If they decline and sign elsewhere, their original team receives draft pick compensation and their new team forfeits a draft pick.

In the first two years of the qualifying offer system zero of the 22 players who received offers accepted them, but that seems likely to change this year. Cuddyer in particular seems almost sure to take the $15.3 million and there are also several other candidates to do so.

Rockies make $15.3 million qualifying offer to Michael Cuddyer

Michael Cuddyer Getty

Rarely does a qualifying offer catch everyone by surprise, but the Rockies just did that by making one to Michael Cuddyer.

Cuddyer hit .307 with an .886 OPS in three seasons for the Rockies, but he also missed 206 of a possible 486 games, including playing just 49 games this season. He’s a 36-year-old corner outfielder/first baseman who rates poorly defensively and … well, $15.3 million is a lot.

It seems pretty obvious that Cuddyer should accept the one-year, $15.3 million contract and return to the Rockies for another season, because if he declines the number of teams interested in giving him a big contract and losing a draft pick to do so figures to be very, very limited.