St. Louis Cardinals: Lance Lynn is stuck in free agent purgatory


Former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher and current free agent, Lance Lynn, is stuck in free agent purgatory .  When he gets out is anybody’s guess.  Maybe he should talk to another former Cardinal, Kyle Lohse.

Lance Lynn has been a free agent since rejecting the St. Louis Cardinals qualifying offer in November.  Many have speculated the former Cardinal pitcher was looking for a 4-5 year deal for close to $20 million a year.  As of this writing, there have been no takers and many have asked why.

According to Jon Taylor of SI, ” free agent compensation rules are incredibly complicated”, especially for those who receive and reject qualifying offers.  Due to these rules, a free agent can find himself trapped in a “purgatory” that makes him undesirable for teams to sign.  Even quality players such as Lance Lynn, Greg Holland, or Jake Arietta.

Under the current CBA, a team that signs a player that rejects a qualifying offer is subject to losing one or more draft picks.  While a team’s highest first round draft pick is exempt from forfeiture, any additional first round picks are eligible.  Many second round picks may likely be lost under the current CBA.

How much a team could lose for signing Lance Lynn depends on several factors.  These include whether the team exceeded the luxury tax the previous season, or a team that received revenue sharing.  These teams are the ones at risk for losing the highest draft picks.

However, even teams who didn’t exceed the luxury tax or didn’t receive revenue sharing could be hit hard as well.  These teams would lose their second highest selection in the following years draft.  Also, they would lose $500,000 from its international bonus pool for the upcoming signing period.  If it signs two such players, it will forfeit the third highest remaining pick.

So a team who would like to add Lance Lynn to its pitching staff, would likely lose more than one high draft pick.  In this age of sabermetrics and analytics, many teams are reluctant to part with high draft picks or loss of international bonus money.

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Former St. Louis Cardinal hurler, Kyle Lohse went through this experience during the 2012-13 off-season, although under a few different rules.

After a successful five-year stint with the Cardinals, Kyle Lohse became a free agent in 2012.  Lohse, his agent, and many analysts expected him to sign early in his free agency.  However, that is not what happened.

The free agent compensation rules were different under the 2012-2016 CBA.  Teams that signed a free agent player who rejected a qualifying offer, were forced to give up their highest draft pick in the upcoming draft.  Only the top ten picks in the draft were protected under the CBA.

Kyle Lohse entered the free agent market looking for a multi-year contract and received little interest.  In the 2012-2013 off-season, many teams were reluctant to give up their first round draft pick for the then 34-year-old starting pitcher.  Eventually, Lohse signed a three-year, $33 million contract with the Milwaukee Brewers on March 25, 2013.

Kyle Lohse’s experience in the 2012-2013 off-season seems to reflect what Lance Lynn is experiencing during this off-season.  Lynn, like Lohse, is in a type of free-agent “purgatory” due to franchises reluctant to give up multi draft picks for 30-plus year old players, who are searching for multi-year contracts.

According to JIm Bowden, of Sirius XM Radio, several teams remain interested in Lance Lynn.  These include the Phillies, Orioles, Twins, and Brewers.  However, according to Bowden, “are waiting for a 3-year deal under $50 million, so they don’t have to give up draft pick compensation.” It is believed, according to Bowden, that Lynn and his agent are still holding out for a longer term deal.

Therefore, Lance Lynn, like Kyle Lohse before him, waits and waits, in free agent purgatory.

Next: Cards and DeJong reach an extension

When do you think Lance Lynn will sign, and to whom.  Thanks for reading.