The Qualifying Offers on WBC-San, A-Jack and J.A. Happ
Trade deadline a week from now


"Anonymous" wrote us a happenin' little e-book in the Shout Box.  As he knows, such Shouts are always subject to echoes, so 'ave at thee, varlet.  (About once every six months, SSI gets a new visitor who (1) delivers one interesting idea per sentence, (2) is easier than Amy Adams to get along with, (3) has an eerie sense of proportion and (4) is either Kevin Mather or some other b'wana who gets into Safeco on an entry badge.  That's why we always encourage "anonymous" to sign is as "Guest123", so that we can herd the feisty amigos clear of him.)

We digress.  Pulling the one quibble out that we could find, this was an amazing line that Guest123 tossed out to us:


The Mariner's have three prime FA to be assets they could look to move - Iwakuma, Happ and #Jackson. I don't believe the M's should trade any of them, rather I think the M's should hold on to them and extend each a Qualifying Offer. No player has ever accepted a qualifying offer, and while one of these three certainly could accept, the downside is a minimal risk 1 year deal on players who will have value to the club.


Wait, what.

If that's true (and Dr. D assumes, based on 123's other thoughts, that it is true) then why do you HAVE the QO system?  Just to shuffle post-1st-round comp picks from one club to another?

GM stuff is the kind of discussion that always bored Dr. D.  But a quick 5-minute surf-and-dryoff leads him to believe:

  • The current system has been in place for the 2013-14 seasons
  • During that time, 0 out of 22 Qualifying Offers have been accepted

OK, that's not quite so dire as we first pictured.  Still weird, though.  You wouldn't have a free throw line from where teams went 0-for-22.  Let's take a glance at the specific names, rather than the general principle (that being the general principle that THE QO SYSTEM BLOWS CHUNKS).  Somebody says, "SSI denizens don't get WAR."  You reply, "Which ones?  Name a couple."  This helps you understand where we're going with the general principle.

OK, before the 2013 seasons, the free agents went 0-for-12 on accepting QO's.  These twelve FA's were:


So that explains a lot.  Ortiz and Jackson and Kuroda and Hamilton were of course wanting 4x$15M or better, not 1x$14.  Their clubs extended the QO just as a polite way to say "GIMME GIMME GIMME that #33 pick."

That's one class of player, the guy worth far more than 1 year, $14M.  Clubs always give QO's and players always decline.

There's the other class of player, the guy worth far less, like Joe Beimel.  Clubs never give QO's and players always "decline."

So the 0-for-22 streak may be more about ---> clubs are very canny about when they extend these offers, plus, guys like Kendrys Morales always think very highly of their market value.  So if we read these tea leaves right, the 0-for-22 on accepting QO's says little about the system, but a lot about the gap between clubs' evaluations and the players' evaluations of themselves.  See Russell "WHY NOT ME?!" Wilson.


Dr. D assumes that Guest123 is spot-on when it comes to Austin Jackson.  He's looked funky in Safeco but retains his general reputation as a young, 2.5'ish WAR center fielder.  If Dr. D were him, he'd have his slimy sights on a MELKY contract (3/$42M) at minimum.


J.A. Happ is a bit more problematic.  He's making $5.4M this year, has 6.05 years service, so becomes a FA for the first time at age 33.  Here's a "gray area" pitcher who might conceivably want to bank the $15.2M rather than shoot for 3/$45.  But that's what we thought about Kendrys. Question for the SSI crowd here.  Would you give Happ $15.2M for next year?  In view of Elias, Montgomery etc?

Happ as a rent-a-gun?  He's a solid guy, located fastball, no change speed game to worry about ... does a solid job but it's impossible to visualize him winning you 4 straight in September and a couple more in the playoffs.  You scout him, overprep for him, stack righties and ... he's the kind of SP you skip over for somebody with better stuff.  Or not, but I wouldn't expect you'd have bidders lined up.

Dr. D agrees with Guest123 that the return might not be much more than the comp pick (though 123 also pointed out what you DO get is a player closer to the bigs).  We agree with Guest123 also that the Mariners will want to finish by playing well, if you don't give them a pretty sweet incentive to trade. ... easy for fans to "punt" the season on Zduriencik's behalf.  But what about the place you work?  You want to spend the rest of the year looking like idiots because you get a federal handout at the end?  Or do you want to "push your brand" by showing people you got a uture?


That leaves Hisashi Iwakuma as the fascinating asset here.  Of course you'd give Iwakuma a QO, and of course he'd push it back so fast you wouldn't even see his hand move.

As far as July 31 goes ... it's Dr. D's long observation that those grizzled (not that kind of Grizzle!) GM's are a lot more swayed by "sexy" rentals than they'd admit.  Iwakuma just shut out* the Angels (!) and Yankees (!), except for one blown Strike Three call.  And then he locked down the Detroit Tigers.  GM's can read an xFIP chart, have watched Iwakuma pitch, and can visualize his fresh arm ripping down the stretch and then winning a couple of playoff games for them.

US use him?  He's year to year, but only had 179 IP last year and will only have what, 120-140 IP this year?  As Guest123 reminds, the Nelson Cruz window is about 1-2 years wide and Dr. D would be perfectly glad to see WBC-san sitting in the windowsill.


There's a fourth possiblity, and that's the Package Deal that Zduriencik favors.  Maybe Texas wants to make a push?  They're dying in CF with Leonis Martin's 52 OPS+, and they could use an Opening Day starter.  Maybe that's the kind of place you can get back a glamor deal.

But, as Guest123 points out, the M's had just as soon play well over the last 60 games.

Good stuff,

Dr D



...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. :)


Nice points all, about the QO system.  The point about nobody ever accepting a QO is interesting, simply because I didn't realize it.  But, of course, the homerun point is that teams are extremenly judicios about who they QO.

So No to Happ, No to Jackson, Yes (with a pretty pleeeeeze) to Iwakuma.

RHB's slug .430 against Happ.  I don't want Jackson back.  I love Iwakuma.

Actually, I would just give 'Kuma the $45M and say "Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto!"

If you get 'Kuma you certainly don't need Happ (Elias, Montgomery---of course, and Pries, Snow, Nuno + whoever we get for cheap of the slag heap and then looks great for us).

It is likely that any trade the M's now make will need to be a package deal.  As the WC race shakes out (and if LAA-Minn stay several games up) teams will be reluctant to give up prospects for guys like Jackson (some help, not much) and Happ.  Morrison is killing his trade value.

BTW, in case you guys missed it in Tacoma, Ketel Marte has played CF the last two games.  SSI, ahead of the curve again.  Tyler Smith is hitting .268-.371 in Jackson.  He should get some CF games, too.

Steve-Vidya's picture

Yes, players have accepted 0 of 22 QO's so far. All that tells me is that the GM's can lower their standards a lot when considering a QO. First, it has to be a player that they're willing to keep for one more year, and second they have to be willing to risk some budget space in the current HSL (Hot Stove League) for long term gain.

At MLBTR they did a study and concluded that a QO refused is worth about $6 million to the offering team. That's the amount of money they lose if they sign him themselves, and the amount of money they gain if another team signs him. That means they should offer any player worth more than $9 million a QO. OK, that assumes a 50% chance the player will accept.

Players are concerned less with $ per year than total guaranteed $ in a deal. Yes, they will almost always take a 3 year deal for $24 million over $15 million for one year. What GM's need to do more than anything this HSL is determine where the line really is, and the way to do that is offer a lot more QO's than they have in the past.

No, Zdureincik shouldn't offer Beimel or Guti a QO, but there's a good case to be made for offering a QO to Jackson or Rodney (assuming he really is fixed. It's not what anyone of us think his value is. Even if  his objective value is well below $15 million for a year, the player is still worth $6 million to the offering club if he refuses the offer.

As we have clearly seen, players often over value their worth. What most of us forget is that they are more often right than the objective observers believe. The reason for that is salary inflation that is almost always a lot more than we expect it will be.

The bottom line for me is that Z and most GM's should be very generous with QO's because they've obviously been way too conservative in the past. Until we have players accepting QO's we'll never learn where the line really should be. Obviously that line is a lot lower than any of us, including the GM's, believe.


The logic looks rock-solid to me.  Thanks.

M's fans would stroke out if the M's offered a QO to Fernando Rodney, esp. at his age, but there's definitely an argument.  Good stuff.

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