Cardinals make qualifying offers to Jason Heyward, John Lackey

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St. Louis has made a qualifying offer to outfielder Jason Heyward and right-hander John Lackey, giving both free agents the option of remaining with the team on a one-year, $15.8 million contract for 2016.

If they decline and sign elsewhere the Cardinals will receive a first-round draft pick as compensation.

Heyward was a no-brainer, because as a 26-year-old elite free agent he’ll have no shortage of huge long-term offers and teams won’t shy away from parting with a draft pick to land him. He’ll turn down the $15.8 million and the Cardinals will attempt to re-sign him for what will almost surely be well over $100 million.

Lackey is a different story, because he’s 37 years old and the draft pick compensation attached to signing him may scare off some interested teams. It severely diminishes his market, perhaps as much as any free agent who’ll receive a Qualifying Offer this year. It’s possible he could decide to simply accept the $15.8 million and stay in St. Louis.

For more details about the Qualifying Offer and everything involved with it, check out Craig Calcaterra’s write-up from earlier today.

53-year-old Rafael Palmeiro homers in independent league ball

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It was announced earlier this month that 53-year-old Rafael Palmeiro signed a contract with the Cleburne Railroaders of the independent American Association, joining his son, former minor leaguer Patrick Palmeiro. The four-time All-Star went 0-for-8 to begin his stint with the club before launching a solo homer in the fifth inning last night. Check it out below.

If we’re being technical here, that was his first home run since July 30, 2005. He hit the homer off 28-year-old Trey McNutt, former prospect with the Cubs and Padres. Palmeiro made his major league debut in 1986, three years before McNutt was born.

Palmeiro told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic last December that he was thinking about a comeback, but he understandably didn’t garner any serious consideration from MLB teams. This comeback attempt might not lead anywhere, but hey, he gets to show that he can still mash while hitting in the same lineup with his son. Palmeiro did that once before with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters in 2015, though it was just a one-game thing. As for the Railroaders, the national media attention can only help them.

Palmeiro is one of just six players in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, but he’s been a disgraced figure in the game since a failed drug test for performance-enhancing drugs in 2005. He dropped off the Hall of Fame ballot in 2014.