Now that the Cardinals’ season is over, it’s time for the fall version of the United Cardinals Bloggers Roundtable. The bloggers who are interested in participating in the roundtable pose a question to the other bloggers who are participating, and they then respond. After all of the answers are obtained, we are to take our question and the responses and put them in a blog post. There were supposed to be two bloggers ahead of me, but neither one of them posted their questions, so I got to be the first blogger to post a question. In a way, that was good, because I was worried that someone would take my question and I would have to think of another one!
So here is the question I asked:
Good morning and happy Friday! This Friday is even happier due to the fact that the Cubs will not be going to the World Series this year (thank you, Dodgers!). Welcome to the 2017 UCB Roundtable! Without further ado, here is my roundtable question.
The subject of our discussion today is Lance Lynn. I have a 3 part question.
1. Will the Cardinals make a qualifying offer to Lance? If not, why?
2. Will Lance accept the qualifying offer, if one is made? If not, why? If your answer to question number 1 is no, you can skip this question.
3. If Lance doesn’t resign with the Cardinals, who fills his spot in the rotation? Will it be someone from the minor leagues, a trade, or a free agent signing? If you have thoughts about who the Cards should select, please share.
Thanks as always for your input! I’m looking forward to your responses.
The first response was from Mark Tomasek, who writes the excellent historical Retrosimba blog. Here is his response:
Yes, I believe Cardinals will make a qualifying offer to Lance Lynn in order to receive a compensatory draft pick.
The Cardinals and Lynn seem ready for a divorce, so I believe the Cardinals will make the offer with no expectation Lynn will accept. He will receive some eye-popping offers from other teams.
My guess is the Cardinals will try to replace Lynn’s rotation spot from within the organization – Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty and Alex Reyes are the obvious options – and will acquire a veteran, low-cost starting pitcher (like they did in past years with Kyle Lohse, Joel Pineiro, etc.) as a safety valve.
Right now, it seems a Cardinals rotation would be Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright. Alex Reyes likely would begin the season in a bullpen role.
Cardinals will need to pick up a veteran starting pitcher (or two) to hedge against the inevitable injuries and setbacks to one or more of the projected starting five, but I don’t get the sense it will be a star pitcher.
The next response was from Allen Medlock of the Redbird Daily:
Good morning, everyone. Excited to talk some Cardinal baseball. I believe the Cardinals will extend them qualifying offer.
That allows the organization to receive compensation in the case that Lynn will move on and the small chance of a fairly reasonable one year contract if Lynn were to accept. The free agent starting pitching market will be interesting this off-season. I expect teams to completely overspend on Lynn and Arrieta.
Carlos Martinez, Micheal Wacha, Adam Wainwright, and Luke Weaver are the rotation definite’s as things stand right now. The fifth spot may be fluid for most of the season with the expectation that Alex Reyes has taken control of the spot by June. I think they like the idea of Reyes being a bullpen weapon but have heard that they were so impressed with him during this season of rehab that he may actually take starter innings during Spring.
If they miss out on the level of offensive player that we expect them to pursue, it wouldn’t surprise me top see hem kick the tires on front-line starters via trade.
The next response was from Adam Butler, also from the Redbird Daily:
Hello, I believe the Cardinals will definitely make a qualifying offer to Lance Lynn. Worst case scenario is that he accepts it and they have their mid rotation innings eating stopgap for next season. It would push the need in their rotation back a season and give some young guys an opportunity to step up.
With that being said, I don’t see any way he accepts the qualifying offer. Even if the market collapses on him I would imagine he can get at least 3 years with an AAV similar to the $17.4 million qualifying offer.
The best guess at the current rotation would be
I don’t know about you but I don’t think that’s going to cut it. They can go one of two ways here. Either add a #2 starting pitcher and push Flaherty out or sign a swing man type of pitcher to hopefully bridge the gap until Alex Reyes is ready (Trevor Cahill is the guy that keeps coming to my mind). I expect this to hinge on a couple of things.
#1. What they’re able to do with the lineup. Like Allen said, if they whiff on bringing in a true middle of the order hitter I believe they might see the rotation as a way to make up for that.
#2. What the market is like for starting pitchers. I’m sure we’ll start hearing the word “opportunistic” a whole lot as the offseason rolls on when the front office is asked about the rotation. If somebody falls into their range, they’ll be ready to pounce. Unfortunately, with the way free agency has gone in the recent past, I don’t expect a pitcher to fall into their lap.
As far as getting a high end pitcher, if we look at the available free agents it’s currently Yu Darvish or bust for me. If Masahiro Tanaka were to opt out of his contract with he could be another option as well. Those are the only two available that I would really want them to give any significant amount of money to.
The trade market for starting pitching is a whole other can of worms. I think that’s where they’d be more likely to get a high end starter if it happens. The possibilities there are almost endless though.
In the end, I expect them to sign or trade for some sort of stopgap starter. Someone to help cover some innings and give the rotation some reliability because right now I don’t feel comfortable relying on any of those guys beyond Carlos Martinez.
The last and final response was from Daniel Shoptaw, the head of the UCB. You can read Daniel’s blog posts at The Cards Conclave.
Well, I’m late to the party and I figure everyone’s answered this better than me, but I’ll go ahead and go for completeness sake if nothing else!
Extending the qualifying offer to Lance Lynn is really a no-brainer. The Cardinals would love to have Lance Lynn for another year. If he’d do a two-year deal, they’d probably consider that as well. Unfortunately, the market is likely to go 4-5 years for Mr. Lynn and that’s just not in the Cardinals’ plans. So extend the QO because it’s a win-win situation.
2) As others have said, there seems no chance that Lynn would take the offer, though. It was just two years ago that the first qualifying offers were taken and it’s still a rare thing to see a player give up the chance at free agency, especially if they are coming off a solid year. Players tend to crave stability and long-term deals, not one-year deals requiring another good season before getting back in the FA pool. As Adam said, he can get similar money (at worst) and more guaranteed years from someone this winter.
3) Without Lance Lynn, you have Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, and a big question mark. And that’s if you don’t think the Cards will move Wacha to the bullpen, which would seem like a reasonable thing to entertain even though the club probably won’t do it. John Mozeliak told us that Alex Reyes would have started the 2017 season in the bullpen and it would seem unlikely that would not be the case after a year missed with Tommy John surgery (assuming he’s even ready to go by Opening Day, which is always a question), but you wonder if the thinness of the rotation might force their hand. Jack Flaherty has proven that he needs more time in Memphis, in my opinion, and there’s nobody else ready to step in and take that fifth starter spot.
The club will probably go out and get a veteran “innings eater” that can go in the fifth spot to begin the year and move to the bullpen once Reyes looks ready, probably the All-Star Break. It would be nice to see them go after a more established starter, someone that fits more to the front of the rotation, given all the question marks, but the front office seems focused on getting an impact bat (which is reasonable) and a high value closer (which is less so).
I have linked to the blogs of each person who responded to my question, so check out their blogs. You might find a new favorite blog! What are your thoughts about the Lance Lynn situation? Post them in the comments section. Thanks for reading! See you next time!