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.

Report: Welington Castillo to be suspended 80 games for violating Joint Drug Agreement

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic confirms a report from journalist Américo Celado that White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will be suspended 80 games for violating baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement. Castillo was believed to have used a steroid, but according to Rosenthal, the substance was not a steroid. More details should come on Thursday.

Castillo, 31, entered Wednesday’s action batting .270/.314/.477 with six home runs and 15 RBI in 118 plate appearances. He has gotten the bulk of the work behind the plate, backed up by Omar Narváez.

Castillo’s absence will likely prompt the White Sox to call up Kevan Smith from Triple-A Charlotte. Smith battled an ankle injury in March and April, so he got a late start to the season. In 102 PA at Triple-A, he has hit .283/.343/.457.