Before Friday’s 5 pm ET deadline, the Cardinals made qualifying offers to both of their top free agents, Jason Heyward and John Lackey, for one-year contracts for 2016. The amount of all qualifying offers this season is set at $15.8 million.
If the offers are rejected and the players sign with another team, the Cardinals will receive supplemental first round picks in next June’s First-Year Player Draft as compensation.
Both players have until November 13 to accept or reject their qualifying offer. If accepted, the $15.8 million will become their salary for next season.
However, both are expected to decline.
Heyward is one of the top offensive players on the market and given his success and age (25), he should receive a monster deal. The Cardinals are expected to make a competitive offer.
At age 37 next season, Lackey will likely look for his last major contract, perhaps a three-year deal in the $12-$15 million per year range. His odds of returning to St. Louis appear to be low.
Kang Questions Remain
It is not yet known if the Cardinals submitted a bid for power-hitting Korean first baseman Byung-ho Park, due at the same time as the qualifying offers.
The 29-year-old hit more than 50 home runs both of the last two seasons in Korea, with interest even higher because of the 2015 success of his former teammate Jung-ho Kang with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The posting process includes multiple steps. First teams submit sealed bids to MLB. They determine the highest bid and forward that to the KBO, Korean Baseball Organization. The KBO informs Park’s current team, the Nexen Heroes, of the amount of the high bid, but not the name of the bidder. Their decision deadline is November 11.
All that is required just to enable the high bidder and player to negotiate a contract. The two sides get 30 days to come to terms. If they cannot agree, Park would remain with the Heroes for another season.
St. Louis has a clear need for more offense and first base would be a good source of improvement. Of course, the translation of Park’s KBO results to the National League remains an open question.
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