Frank McCourt will try — and fail — to work the halls at the owners’ meetings

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The quarterly owners’ meetings take place today and tomorrow in New York and, as Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times notes, despite the fact that the state of the Dodgers is not on the meeting agenda, Frank McCourt has a big lobbying job on his hands:

There will be pleasantries. How was your flight? Where are you staying? How about those Cleveland Indians? And then those conversations could turn awkward, the trapped-in-an-elevator kind of awkward, as Frank McCourt pitches his case to a fellow owner in the hallway.

Eight votes out of 30. That is all McCourt needs to tell Bud Selig what he can do with his trustee, all the Dodgers owner needs to keep his team and get his television money and send the commissioner back to Milwaukee a defeated man.

But he’s not going to get them. Shaikin doesn’t believe he’ll get a single one.  I tend to agree.

As we’ve noted before, Bud Selig is many things, but he is not reckless. He would not make what, when you think about it, is an audacious play to wrest control of the Dodgers from Frank McCourt if he didn’t think he had the ammo to do it. His position — and the position of every baseball commissioner — is contingent on the owners’ approval.  He would not have gone after one of them if he didn’t have the OK from the others ahead of time.

About that OK: Shaikin makes mention of the fact that there has not been any memo sent around to owners explaining the strategy related to the Dodgers. This also makes sense in that, given the extreme likelihood of litigation, Selig probably — and wisely — determined that he didn’t need any extra documents lying around which McCourt’s lawyers could use in court or, maybe more significantly, other owners could later use as the basis for some sort of precedent.

But you know phone calls were made. Conversations took place.  Bud Selig knew what he was doing when he set his sights on Frank McCourt and the Dodgers.  Of that you can be sure.

Six of seven players decline $17.9 million qualifying offers

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Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu was the only one of seven eligible players to accept his $17.9 million qualifying offer. Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock, Craig Kimbrel, Patrick Corbin, Yasmani Grandal, and Dallas Keuchel each rejected his, officially making them free agents. Teams that had their QO’s rejected will recoup a draft pick once the player signs elsewhere.

That Harper rejected his QO comes as no surprise, as he is expected to strike perhaps the largest free agent contract in baseball history. Though the free agent market has been less lucrative lately than in previous years, the combination of Harper’s elite talent and his age — he’s only 26 years old — makes him a primary target for more than a handful of teams. Harper reportedly turned down a 10-year, $300 million contract extension offer from the Nationals, so that would seem to be a baseline.

It is also not surprising that Kimbrel, 30, turned down his QO from the Red Sox. Despite a so-so showing during a championship run, Kimbrel is still young and talented enough to land another lucrative contract on the free agent market.

Keuchel bet on himself in turning down the Astros’ QO. He’s been solid since winning the AL Cy Young Award in 2015, owning a 3.77 ERA across 83 starts over the last three seasons. However, he turns 31 years old at the beginning of 2019, and his already mediocre strikeout rate declined even further this past season, so there may be some skepticism about his ability to perform over the course of a multi-year deal. Keuchel will still get one eventually, but his market may be slower to develop.

Pollock, soon 31 as well, will be the outfielder most coveted once Harper is off the market. When he’s healthy, he’s a dynamic five-tool player. However, Pollock hasn’t played in more than 113 games in a season since 2015, so that may be a red flag. Pollock ended 2018 batting .257/.316/.484 with 21 home runs, 65 RBI, 61 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 460 plate appearances while playing above-average defense according to various defensive metrics.

Grandal, 30, could’ve gone either way with his QO, but ultimately chose to decline. He had a disappointing postseason, both offensively and defensively. Given how humans are prone to recency bias, it stood to reason that his October performance could have hurt his market. The catching position, however, is rather weak and Grandal stands out in a market that is otherwise focused on Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. Grandal did swat 24 home runs with an .815 OPS in 140 games for the Dodgers this past season.

Corbin, 29, was the most obvious QO decline after Harper. The lefty is coming off of a career year, finishing with a 3.15 ERA and a 246/48 K/BB ratio in exactly 200 innings. Corbin is the best free agent pitcher on the market this offseason. The Yankees have been seriously linked with Corbin even before the season ended.

Ryu likely chose to accept his QO because of his age and injury history. It would have been a gamble to pursue a multi-year deal. He did, however, make 15 starts during the regular season to the tune of a 1.97 ERA with 89 strikeouts and 15 walks in 82 1/3 innings. Those are great numbers. And most clubs would have been smart enough to look beyond his 5.21 ERA in the postseason, which has more to do with a leaky bullpen than his own personal failings. Still, it’s hard to fault Ryu for playing it safe and taking the guaranteed $17.9 million for one year.