St. Louis Cardinals: Lance Lynn qualifying offer is paramount to offseason

ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 16: Starter Lance Lynn
ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 16: Starter Lance Lynn /

The St. Louis Cardinals must decide and decide soon whether or not to issue a qualifying offer to their star free agent pitcher. This decision has larger impacts on the remainder of potential moves this offseason.

The St. Louis Cardinals are in a five-day lock-down as it relates to free agency, qualifying offer, or contract for Lance Lynn. What the club decides to do with this gateway figure will decide everything else for the Cardinals offseason.

The statement above is not hyperbolic or exaggeration as far as I can tell. Some moves, in my opinion, could be made this offseason by the St. Louis Cardinals without concern to Lynn but many other moves will be dependent on the outcome of the Cardinals-Lynn negotiations (if they ever actually happen).

Should the Cardinals let him move to free agency without any push from the club, then the club gains nothing but spends nothing too.

Should the St. Louis Cardinals extend a qualifying offer that is accepted by Lynn, the club would have less money with which to make anything else happen.

Should the club issue the qualifying offer and it is denied, then the club saves the $17.5M and gains a draft pick. Let’s circle back to this in a moment.

Lastly, should the St. Louis Cardinals extend a contract to Lance Lynn, then the club will have several years tied with less money to a pitcher who is already 30 years old. Many (including MLBTR) believe that Lynn is due a four-year deal valued at approximately $56MM.

Assuming these numbers are correct, assuming the Cards issue this contract, and assuming Lynn signs then the Cards are committed to Lynn for the duration of the contract (unless they can trade him later). At this amount, which I think is reasonable, the St. Louis Cardinals should seriously consider re-signing Lynn.

Back to the qualifying offer. During our weekly podcast that recorded last night, fellow editor Tito Rivera suggested that the Cardinals should issue the qualifying offer and that Lynn should actually accept it as it would guarantee him more money in the single year than the potential four-year deal.

Related Story: Official podcast episode 36

But, assuming Lynn turns down the qualifying offer and the Cardinals pick up the compensatory draft pick, wouldn’t this then allow them to sign a free agent who himself had turned down a qualifying offer content to lose the pick on the signed free agent thanks to the compensatory pick from Lynn? I think this is most likely to happen and- in a way- tips the Cardinals’ hand.

The following names are likely to receive and reject qualifying offers:

Eric Hosmer– The St. Louis Cardinals have been rumored to this first baseman but I do not believe a Hosmer pick makes sense for the birds on the bat and especially not in light of losing the draft pick.

Masahiro Tanaka– The Yankees will get a comp pick and Tanaka will walk. MLBTR thinks he will go to the Phillies for five years and $100MM ($20M AAV). If the St. Louis Cardinals aren’t issuing Lynn the four-year deal at a lower AAV, then don’t look for them to go after Tanaka (not to say they shouldn’t however).

There are plenty of other examples of the pick scenario wherein the St. Louis Cardinals would prefer to keep Matt Carpenter, Lynn, and crew over a lost pick. To the free agents who the Cards should take interest:

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Mike Moustakas– This potential third base solution is one the Cardinals would be wise to check in on especially once he rejects the qualifying offer. This would be the exact situation that I was talking about above: Lynn’s comp pick would offset the pick lost in grabbing Moustakas.

Wade Davis– Yet another perfect example of the Lynn pick scenario. The Cardinals are rumored to be thinking of Davis and who could blame them? If it were up to me, I would say they should 100 percent make this deal happen.

Greg Holland– Yet another example of the pick scenario. If the St. Louis Cardinals cannot land Davis or if they believe his asking price to be too high, then Holland is a fantastic alternative. In fact, the writers at MLBTR predict that he is coming to the Cardinals in a 4yr/$50MM deal.

One last time, then: Lance Lynn and whether he is offered, accepts, or rejects a qualifying offer will help fans understand what might be coming this winter. If we could only know the conversations in the Cardinals front office and what their actual desires are as they relate to Lynn and the other free agents.

Next: Fixing the bullpen without spending money

What do you think? What would you do? Let me know on Twitter and thanks for reading!