Alex Rodriguez dismisses his lawsuit against MLB, MLBPA

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This is pretty unexpected. Alex Rodriguez has filed a notice with the court dismissing his lawsuit against Major League Baseball and the the MLBPA.  It’s a voluntary dismissal pursuant to Federal Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(i), which means that he can re-file it at a later date if he wishes to.

There is no explanation with the notice as to why A-Rod dismissed the suit. There can be any number of explanations, actually. Some tactical, I presume, but there is no obvious advantage to him doing this now apart from the fact that he was supposed to respond today to the MLBPA’s motion to have the claims against it dismissed. Now he doesn’t need to. But he will if and when he brings the suit again. And, of course, if he doesn’t, his suspension stands as-is and it’s the same as if he’s lost the case.

Major League Baseball just issued the following statement. It believes this is over for good:

 “We have been informed that Alex Rodriguez has reached the prudent decision to end all of the litigation related to the Biogenesis matter.  We believe that Mr. Rodriguez’s actions show his desire to return the focus to the play of our great game on the field and to all of the positive attributes and actions of his fellow Major League Players.  We share that desire.”

And it may very well be.  One reason parties might dismiss a case without prejudice: settlement talks are afoot. I wouldn’t believe for a second that settlement talks between A-Rod and MLB are going on now — why would MLB bother? — but maybe A-Rod and the union are talking for some reason.  Another possibility: A-Rod didn’t file the case seeking injunctive relief (i.e. seeking an immediate order to have his suspension stopped and a quick hearing on the matter). Perhaps he refiles in order to get such an order.

Another possibility? A-Rod wants everything to just stop. He — or his lawyers — are leaving an out in case minds change sometime soon, but if A-Rod woke up this morning, called his lawyers and said “stop the case, I’m done” this is what they’d probably file. Followed by a dismissal with prejudice once everyone had a chance to meet and talk about it.

But no matter the motivation, my guess is that the Biogenesis case is over.

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.