Give a Qualifying Offer to J.A. Happ?


SABRMatt with one of his best ever, which is sayin' a lot hobbitses:


In three seasons of voters, 

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...and some were genuinely surprising that they passed.  Stephen Drew, Nellie Cruz, Kendrys Morales, Michael Cuddyer

Generally, you either don't get a QO or you are good enough that saying yes would be OK with the offering team and thus you want more.  The idea of the QO system is to tie compensation only to those players who it legitimately hurts to lose in free agency.  It's working, I'd say.

And I would absolutely QO Jay Happ.  That's not even a question for me.


Funny story - On July 30th, 2013, my colleagues and I at Yankee Stadium got into a 4 hour and 30 minute (!) argument over whether it was, or was not, a no-brainer to QO Phil Hughes.  At the time, the Yankees were getting fed up with his gopheritis and he boasted a 4.65 ERA give or take a few points, but one of the interns (a man who I still love to hate - frenemies to the end! - to this very day and avidly seek to destroy in fantasy baseball...I'm happy to report that I'm four games ahead of him in the standings! :D) posited that, even in that position, it was absolutely a no-brainer to QO him.  I took the other side, suggesting that he was no good to the Yankees as he was a bad match for Yankee Stadium, and that his peripherals in the last two months suggested he was about to struggle horribly and kill his value, so even if I had to make the call then, I'd pass.  The war that ensued dragged in everyone in the office right up to the GM himself.  Seriously.  They love debating this sort of thing for sport including the bigwigs.

The final conclusion was that, if he pitched at the same level the rest of the year, the top-level guys would QO him based on his potential but it would be a nail-biter of a choice and not a no-brainer.  He pitched worse than that the rest of the way as I predicted, and the Yankees did not QO him...yet he signed for 3 years and 24 million, so he probably should have been QO'ed.

Just thought I would share that anecdote for your amusement. :)

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Very instructive.  It's one of those tactical chess exercises from which we get a better understanding of the general principles.


Guess we should do the same on Happ?  Devil's advocate, I'll play the frenemy.  Happ for 2015 is ...well, he has performed more strongly than a lot of guys who got QO's.  No doubts there.  And we won't be the LEAST surprised if he cops a 3/$30M contract or better, but that's not the key for me.  And, he's a real good fit for the park.  No tears if the M's decide to go with him over the coming 2-3 years.

But Happ is:

  • A 1.5, 2.0-WAR guy with downside, NOT upside (he would never OUTperform a $15.2M salary, like Scrubs must)
  • He blocks other pitchers (we have 6+ starters without him) ... we are talking a HARD block here
  • Chemistry-wise ... we don't need the "professional leadership" the way we actually did in April 2014, and
  • We're not confident that he'd decline the QO

I don't think the decision is as simple as "He'd earn $15M worth of bases."  I think he WOULD earn $10-15M worth of bases in Safeco.  It's more a question of, "Will you win your next pennant with this player;" Happ is a static asset as opposed to Roenis Elias who is a dynamic asset.  And it's a question of, with Stars & Scrubs, you want your Scrubs to be able to outperform their money.

In fairness, all good Stars & Scrubs teams have a COUPLE of Civics.  Kinda like glue at the joints.  Look it up; you'll see that Billy Beane contenders have a few guys at the midrange on his payroll, and those guys played well.

As we mentioned, that's devil's advocate.  Return?  :- )


Dr D


1 not, to me, whether Happ will get 15 million in bases in 2016.  The question is not whether he blocks guys either, though.  A guy like him will want a multi-year contract...that much I believe is a "no doubt about it" proposition...especially since he is hitting FA for the first time and is already 33...this is a guy who will not want to work year to year.  Which means you could conceivably offer him 1 year and 20 million and he'd probably STILL pass.

That would be a silly offer to make, of course...but I think if you QO him...he'll turn it down.  And he'll get a three-year deal from someone.

So the question isn't whether he blocks any Mariners or whether we could win our next's whether we want a draft pick for him...or not?


Sure.  If you're 90% confident he'll decline, then you grab the pick.

Hasn't happened yet, that a player like Happ accepted the QO, so the first time a team gets busted by this gambit will be news.  And you're not being 'busted,' exactly, getting a #3-4 starter on a 1-year deal.


However, this is not a normal off season coming - especially for starting pitching.

Just to throw out a few other free agent pitchers: B. Anderson, Chen, Cueto, Fister, Gallardo, Greinke, Haren, Kuma, Kazmir, Kennedy, Latos, Leake, Lincecum, Masterson, Price, Samardzija, and Zimmerman... most of those, and probably a few others will get $10M per year contracts. Plus you have the following guys who have $10M options for 2016 : Buchholz, Cahill, Dickey, Garcia, Guthrie, Lee, and Romero. 

I bet Happ will be quite a bargain for whatever team signs him.  


I've always like short-term pitcher contracts for ~league average players, especially when the cupboards are bursting with high-upside talent like the M's have right now.

I would definitely QO him, and I would be happy with either outcome (accept/decline) since you end up with a league average or better player at a position of need.

If you find your top youngsters far outperforming, or even matching his performance, you can flip him to a contender for something nice.  If your youngsters are sputtering en masse, you hold onto him and are thankful for above average performance at #3 in the rotation.


But the M's don't play, financially, in a vacuum.  Like it or not, such is the reality,

That $15M signs nice talent, other than Happ, as well.  Maybe it signs a CF'er.

We need one of those.  We're pretty deep at P.

And it does no good to just blast the M's for not loosening the purse strings a bit more.   Happ could get $15M from the M's for 1 season or $30M for 3 from somebody else.  He might take the $15M and figure he would get his $30M beyond that.  I can certainly live with him a bit longer....but not if Elias is the guy on the outside.

Part of the M's dilemma may depend on their confidence in Hultzen and Pries.

But if that $15M is the amount that lets me sign a CF and a RP not named Rodney, then that is where my money is going.


Right. Divish has already started mentioning the possibility of payroll decreasing in 2016. We can wail and gnash our teeth about the perceived injustice of the payroll al we want but it is what it is. If the payroll is going to stay static or decrease, can you really afford to take the risk that a MOR starter will eat up all or most of your available payroll space? Especially if you could trade him now and get something back that's just as valuable as the draft pick that the club can get if he rejects the QO and signs with another club? Of course, there is no guarantee that anyone would trade for him now. 

Hultzen, BTW, is done. Toast. He cant figure into any plans in any way. If his shoulder stops hurting by some miracle then you treat it as a nice bonus. But you cannot afford to plan for it. The dude has thrown 8 innings in the last two years. 43 innings in the last three. 


He'll be a good one. Speedy, plus fielder, will get on base, will steal bases. Good enough for 2016,  better after 2016. We don't need to throw good money at washups again there. 


That's a good catch.  Was it you Rick who noted in the Shout Box that Marte has actually played in CF Tacoma the last few days?

Conceivable that Marte would turn out to be an excellent fielder in center, and if so, he seems a better prospect there.  Not even sure why.  A little Denard Span-nish.

After Miller, suddenly I want to try every SS as a CF :- )


I didn't note it, Doc, but whoever it was (Bat? Moe?) caused me to think this is probably where the Mariners are headed for 2016.

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