This year’s crop of Qualifying Offer-attached FAs has been announced; lets look at the ten guys who will have to deal with draft pick compensation as they attempt to find a new team:
|Year||Player||POS||Agent||Old Team||Previous Contract||Previous Contract AAV||Walk year salary||Q.O.|
|2016||Yoenis Cespedes||OF||Brodie Van Wagenen / Roc Nation||New York Mets||1yr/$27.5M||27.5M||27.5M||$17.2M|
|2016||Dexter Fowler||OF (cf)||Casey Close/Excel Sports Management||Chicago Cubs||1 year/$13M||13M||13M||$17.2M|
|2016||Justin Turner||3B||Legacy Agency||Los Angeles Dodgers||1 year/$5.1M||5.1M||5.1M||$17.2M|
|2016||Edwin Encarnacio||1B/DH||Rep 1 Baseball||Toronto||4 years/$39M||9.75M||10M||$17.2M|
|2016||Neil Walker||2B||Excel Sports||New York Mets||1 year/$10.55M||10.55M||10.55M||$17.2M|
|2016||Kenley Jansen||RHP (closer)||Wasserman Media Group||Los Angeles Dodgers||1 year/$10.65M||10.65||10.65||$17.2M|
|2016||Ian Desmond||OF (cf)/SS||CAA Baseball (was Sports One Athlete Management)||Texas||1 year/$8M||8m||8m||$17.2M|
|2016||Jeremy Hellickson||RHP (starter)||Scott Boras/Boras Corporation||Philadelphia||1 year/$7M||7m||7m||$17.2M|
|2016||Jose Bautista||OF (RF)||Jay Alou, Epitome Sports||Toronto||6 years/$79M||13.16M||14M||$17.2M|
|2016||Mark Trumbo||1b/OF||Wasserman Media Group||Baltimore||1 year/$9.15M||9.15M||9.15M||$17.2M|
And here’s a list of the 10 worst teams from 2016 who have protected 1st rounders:
- Twins (59-103, .364)
- Reds (68-94, .420)
- Padres (68-94, .420)
- Rays (68-94, .420)
- Braves (68-93, .422)
- A’s (69-93, .426)
- D-backs (69-93, .426)
- Phillies (71-91, .438)
- Brewers (73-89, .451)
- Angels (74-88, .457)
Of these 10 teams, I think its fair to say that only a couple of them are possible FA shoppers anyway. Twins, Reds, Padres, DBacks, Brewers all seem to still be in “re-boot” mode, the Braves and Phillies are probably in a “cautious shopping” mode, the Rays and A’s are in a “never spend money” mode, and the Angels are in a “we’re already spending way too much money” mode. So it’d be a huge surprise if a protected team even takes advantage of this FA crop.
Here’s 11-30, in order, all of whom will have to spend their 1st round pick if they sign players:
11. Rockies (75-87, .463)
12. White Sox (78-84, .481)
13. Pirates (78-83, .484)
14. Marlins (79-82, .491)
15. Royals (81-81, .500)
16. Astros (84-78, .519)
17. Yankees (84-78, .519)
18. Mariners (86-76, .531)
19. Cardinals (86-76, .531)
20. Tigers (86-75, .534)
21. Giants (87-75, .537)
22. Mets (87-75, .537)
23. Orioles (89-73, .549)
24. Blue Jays (89-73, .549)
25. Dodgers (91-71, .562)
26. Red Sox (93-69, .574)
27. Indians (94-67, .584)
28. Nationals (95-67, .586)
29. Rangers (95-67, .586)
30. Cubs (103-58, .640)
I can’t really see the first few teams giving up picks; maybe you have to get to Houston at #16 before you have a real big-market team looking to spend money. From about the Yankees on down, practically all these teams may be considering one of the 10 QO players and forfeiting their pick.
There’s a couple of interesting players here, so here’s some commentary.
- Yoenis Cespedes: opted out of two years and $43M to hit FA again; he’s the marquee hitter on the market and he’ll get a 9-figure deal. I think he’ll struggle to match $27.5M AAV, but that won’t bother him. Teams shouldn’t have any issues cashing in a 1st rounder for him. Linked to the Nats but not really; there’s just no way they can get him to fit into their payroll unless they drastically jack it up from 2016 levels.
- Dexter Fowler decides to roll the dice again; that may be a mistake, maybe not. If he gets 3yrs and $40M guaranteed he’ll be happy. Linked to the Nats; see below.
- Justin Turner came out of nowhere to earn a $17M offer; he’s only making $5M this year. Is he tempted to take the offer?
- Encarnacion and Bautista both seem likely to leave Toronto; I think the limits on their markets is less about the QO and more about their aging “old-man” skill sets.
- Neil Walker is coming off a back injury; but there’s also not a ton of depth in the 2B market for those teams looking. Still, $17M is a hefty improvement on his 2016 $10.5M salary.
- Jansen seems crazy to pass up this kind of money … except that there’s several big-market teams dying for a new closer (ours included). I don’t see the Nats forking over this cash, instead taking a cheaper option like Holland (assuming he can still throw).
- Desmond; poor Ian Desmond, saddled with the offer yet again. Maybe he takes it this year. I’m not really sure what has changed in terms of his market. Recently linked with Baltimore.
- Hellickson taking the QO just to screw Philly would be awesome … but he also knows that despite his mediocre career he’s one of the best 2-3 options this off-season.
- Trumbo; Only $9.15M this year; could he take the offer and double his pay? Probably no reason to; he likely just had his best career year and he’ll get the best contract offer he can right now.
In the end; i don’t see an obvious QO taker. Last year 20 players got offered the QO and a number took it, finally calling the owner’s bluff. So many players that might have entertained offers didn’t get them this year, and of the above list only one or two possibly could take it if they were worried about their markets, but likely nobody takes it.
From a Nats perspective; do any of these players move the needle for you, enough so to give up the #28 overall pick? We have definitely shown a proclivity towards cashing in that pick to acquire players. But of these 10 guys, who are really targets for the Nats?
We can rule many out of the way immediately:
- Turner: we don’t need a 3B.
- Walker: we don’t need a 2B
- Hellickson: we don’t need a starter
- Desmond: can’t see a reunion, not for a guy who barely plays CF.
- Trumbo: this FO seems smart enough to see what Trumbo is (a homer-only DH).
- Encarnacion: similar to Trumbo in that he’s 1B/DH … and we already have someone at 1B.
So we’re down to really 4 contenders:
- Jansen: Even though we need a closer, I can’t see this FO spending that much on a closer and think they’ll go a cheaper route.
- Cespedes; Cespedes is the #1 FA on the market and will probably get some ridiculous amount of money per season from a bigger market team; also priced out of the Nats budget. Would force Harper to CF AND would force Werth back to right, providing a pretty significant negative impact to the Nats outfield defense.
- Bautista: Yeah he’s a marquee bat … but his BA took a nose dive in 2016, he’s already 36 and seems to have the kind of classic “old-man slugger” skills that evaporate seemingly overnight. If his 2016 had been more like his 2015 season, maybe. His once vaunted RF defense has also taken a significant hit, posting negative UZR and “arm” ratings the last two seasons after being one of the premier defenders there for years. Would also force Harper to CF and would
- Fowler; perhaps the one FA that makes sense for all factors (age, positional fit and quality). If the Nats signed him, it would immediately trigger many of the moves we’re all predicting (Turner back to short, non-tender of Revere, trade of Espinosa) and really improves the lineup. Fowler batted lead-off for the Cubs and posted nearly a .400 OPS; putting him 1-2 with Turner at the top would really galvanize the run production out of the big bats in the lineup.
Imagine this lineup: Turner SS, Fowler CF, Harper RF, Rendon 3B, Murphy 2B, Werth LF, Zimmerman 1B, C, P. That’d go R-S-L-R-L-R-R for good balance with some serious OBP in the 1-2-3 slots for contact hitters like Rendon and Murphy to drive in.
So. Will Fowler sign here? We have serious suitors for his talents (most are projecting him to St.Louis). We’ll see. But for me Fowler is worth giving up a pick.