Rather than accept or decline the one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer before today’s deadline right-hander Marco Estrada and the Blue Jays have agreed to a two-year, $26 million contract.
Estrada could have turned down the qualifying offer in search of a longer, bigger deal on the open market, but he risked potentially having to settle for less money if teams were scared off by the draft pick compensation attached to signing him.
And he could have accepted the qualifying offer and returned to Toronto for $15.8 million next season, but instead he’ll get an extra $10.2 million for a second year. It’s more or less the best of both worlds for a 32-year-old with a 3.95 lifetime ERA coming off a career-year.
Baltimore made one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offers to three departing free agents and catcher Matt Wieters accepted, but first baseman Chris Davis and left-hander Wei-Yin Chen have declined.
That means Davis and Chen are both outright free agents and if they sign elsewhere the Orioles will receive a draft pick as compensation.
Davis’ projected market varies wildly depending on who you listen to–Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com predicted he’ll get $182 million, which seems insane to me–but he figures to have enough interested suitors that forfeiting a draft pick to sign him won’t scare anyone off.
Chen could see his market somewhat limited by the attached draft pick compensation, although as a 30-year-old lefty with a 3.44 ERA in 377 innings during the past two seasons he shouldn’t have trouble securing a sizable multi-year deal.
Colby Rasmus has company.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is also accepting the one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer, returning to Baltimore for 2016 rather than testing the open market as a free agent.
This is a much bigger surprise than Rasmus accepting the qualifying offer from the Astros, because the general consensus seemed to be that Wieters was set to cash in pretty big as the clear-cut best catcher available at 30.
However, he did miss most of 2014 and half of this year following Tommy John elbow surgery, so perhaps Wieters is banking on a healthy, productive 2016 campaign allowing him to hit the open market again next offseason with a much bigger demand.
Whatever the case, the Orioles have to be pretty happy about retaining an All-Star caliber catcher for a one-year commitment and a whole bunch of teams hoping to lure Wieters away from Baltimore are scrambling for other catching plans.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that right-hander Yovani Gallardo will turn down the Rangers’ one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer and become a free agent.
Players rejecting the qualifying offer is never a surprise, but Gallardo’s market will suffer with draft pick compensation attached to signing him and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him struggle to secure a multi-year deal for big money.
In addition to some teams balking at handing over a first-round draft pick to sign him, Gallardo’s secondary numbers were very underwhelming this year with just 121 strikeouts compared to 68 walks in 184 innings. He has a long track record of success at age 30, but is showing some signs of decline.
Re-signing with the Rangers eventually may sound like a pretty good option for Gallardo.
New general manager Jerry Dipoto continues to work quickly to make changes to Seattle’s roster, with Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Mariners have acquired right-hander Joaquin Benoit from the Padres.
San Diego picked up its $7.5 million option on Benoit for 2016, knowing he could fetch something in return, and the Padres will get a pair of low minor leaguers (right-hander Enyel De Los Santos and infielder Nelson Ward) back in this deal.
Benoit is 38 years old and his raw stuff has declined somewhat in recent years, but he logged 65 innings with a 2.34 ERA and 63/23 K/BB ratio this past season and has a combined 2.35 ERA in 379 innings since 2010. He’s a big upgrade to Seattle’s late-inning bullpen situation and doesn’t require a multi-year commitment or parting with top prospects.