Thursday, November 6, 2014

Take the money and run

Michael Cuddyer
was limited to 205
plate appearances
in 2014, but he got
a qualifying offer.
Monday was the deadline for teams to extend qualifying offers to their free agents. This was only a theoretical issue for the Twins, as their only free agent at this point is Jared Burton, and he's a free agent because the Twins declined to pick up his option, which was a fraction of the $15.3 million price tag for a QO.

In all, 12 players were extended qualifying offers, which is a tick above average (a total of 22 offers in the first two years of this system). No player accepted the qualifying offer the past two winters, but I expect at least one will this year.

Old friend Michael Cuddyer should. Emphatically so. That the Rockies made the offer astounded many outside observers. Cuddyer will turn 36 before Opening Day, he's started to have some injury issues, his defensive abilities have declined ... and the qualifying offer means a team will have to surrender a high draft pick to sign him.

I don't think that's happening. Cuddy should learn from the experience of Kendrys Morales, Nelson Cruz and Stephen Drew last year and take the QO. The down side: He's guaranteed $15.3 million. I wish I had a bad choice that would be that rewarding.

Who else would be well advised to take the money and run? In my view:

  • Cruz got burned last year; he turned down Texas' QO and wound up with a one year deal in Baltimore for a bit more than half the Texas offer. He led the majors in homers, true, but he's still the same player who couldn't find a market last winter. 
  • David Robertson is a closer. Yeah, he had a good season for the Yankees. Few teams are eager to commit that much money to a ninth-inning guy, much less surrender a draft pick for the privilege. 
  • Francisco Liriano is an interesting case. He's had two good years for Pittsburgh. But has that erased his reputation for inconsistency? Are teams willing to commit dollars and years to him -- and give up that draft pick to boot? And even if there is a market, Liriano might be better off sticking in a place he's been successful. This is a more difficult call, frankly, than Cuddyer, Cruz and Robertson. 
The other eight ... well, I don't think any of them are likely to accept, although I suspect that some will find the market less welcoming than they expect. 

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