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.

Gio Gonzalez has a high ankle sprain, will be replaced on the NLCS roster

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It was understandable if you forgot about it given that it happened hours and hours before the end of the game, but Gio Gonzalez left in the second inning of Game 4 of the NLCS after coming down funny on his ankle while fielding a ball in play.

While Gonzalez attempted to stay in the game after that it was clear that he was not right, so the Brewers went to the bullpen. After the game, it was clear why he wasn’t right: Brewers manager Craig Counsell said that Gonzalez had a high ankle sprain and that it was likely he would be replaced on the roster with another pitcher.

This may actually benefit Milwaukee in the very short term given that Milwaukee used six relievers last night, so there will be a fresh arm on staff for Game 5 tonight. It does mean, however, that Gonzalez’ season is over, as a player replaced due to injury in one playoff series is required to sit out the next one. If the Brewers make it to the World Series, Gonzalez will not be available no matter how he is health, wise.

Counsell did not say which pitcher will replace Gonzalez on the roster. We’ll find out for sure later today. Among the possibilities are Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Jordan Lyles and Matt Albers.