St. Louis Cardinals Make Jason Hayward Offer, Hold Breath

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I don’t know if you heard, but the free agency period opened up yesterday. And of course the St. Louis Cardinals did the right thing and made a qualifying offer to free agent target #1, Jason Hayward and to right-handed starter John Lackey. This is what Aaron Gleeman of NBC Sports had to say:

"Heyward will turn it down, but Lackey isn’t such a clear call."

Source: Cardinals make qualifying offers to Jason Heyward, John Lackey

Uhg. That’s because Lackey is a 37-year-old with an arm/shoulder that could give out at any moment. The likelihood of him being anything more than a so-so mid- to back-of-the-rotation starter going forward are slim.

As Gleeman mentioned, though, Heyward will turn down the Cardinals’ initial $15.8 million offer to seek a multi-year deal north of $100 million.

Today, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on the Cardinals’ next move:

"General manager John Mozeliak said he intends to meet with Heyward’s representatives next week during the GM meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., where talks can begin “in earnest.”“Obviously he’s someone that we have a lot of interest in,” Mozeliak said Friday. “We felt like he was an excellent teammate. The process, I would imagine, will begin next week.”"

My chest hurts already. Every big league team will be in on Heyward, including the hated Chicago Cubs

Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

with their anticipated loss of free agent centerfielder Dexter Fowler. The Northsiders, however, appear to be more focused on pitching.

Which brings us back to Lackey, who is surely seeking more than the one-year deal the Cardinals have offered up. Goold surmised the Cubs could be a fit for the veteran, in which case the Cardinals would now receive a compensatory draft pick. Here’s what NBC’s perfectly prickly baseball writer Craig Calcaterra had to say about compensatory draft picks yesterday:

"… they should be called “punishment picks,” as they are, in reality, designed to impede the market for players’ services by punishing teams who sign free agents and depressing the salaries of most of the players to whom those picks are attached. No player, since the advent of the qualifying offer, has accepted one. A handful have taken a hit when going to sign contracts with other teams, as their value has been discounted by the cost of a pick."

Next: Top Ten Cardinal Free Agent Signings

Good, I say. I don’t WANT Lackey to pick up that offer. I think the Cardinals were fortunate to get the performance they got out of him this past season. I’d rather see the Cardinals sign David Price (who wouldn’t?) or pick up a guy who has some upside still. Lackey was that guy when the Cardinals traded for him last season. Now, I’m afraid, he has passed that point.

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