The way that this offseason has gone already, the St. Louis Cardinals won’t go after any player who received a qualifying offer.
As was feared, the fallout from a lack of revenues during the 2020 season is drastically forming a much different market this winter than we have seen before. It became real for St. Louis Cardinals fans when the team declined the $12.5M option on Kolten Wong.
The team is cutting payroll, even if they haven’t said it yet.
To be fair, the Cardinals will not be alone this winter as many other teams declined the options for players who seemed to be locks to have their options picked up. It is an unfortunate consequence of the times, but the team’s decision on Wong tells us one main thing: the Cardinals are going to have to pick and choose where to spend.
The one place they shouldn’t and likely won’t look is any players who were offered qualifying offers.
Last winter, 10 players received a qualifying offer with only two accepting it. This year, I would be surprised if more than three of these players decline the offer. George Springer, JT Realmuto, and Trevor Bauer are the only ones that I could see declining that offer in an attempt to get more in free agency.
For a team like the Cardinals who are trying to cut salary, even signing one player for the amount of the qualifying offer ($18.9M) is likely off the table. If you were to add that the player now would have a draft pick attached to them, and the Cardinals are easy bets to fold.
As much fun as it would be to have George Springer roaming center field, it just isn’t realistic for this offseason. The great thing about this market, however, is that the mid-tier players are even cheaper.
So while these players who received qualifying offers won’t be on the table, other players will be, and at a major discount.
The discounted mid-tier players are a silver lining of the current market and I know fans long for the day that DeWitt tells Mo to go all in. However, this winter is not that winter. Focus on the bargains, don’t begin to entertain anyone who received a qualifying offer.