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.