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Could Dodgers’ Brett Anderson be first to accept qualifying offer?

Dodgers starter Brett Anderson pitches against the New York Mets during Game 3 of the National League division series on Oct. 12.

Dodgers starter Brett Anderson pitches against the New York Mets during Game 3 of the National League division series on Oct. 12.

(Elsa / Getty Images)

Brett Anderson, history maker?

It could happen this off-season, though, as usual in the world of free agency, nothing is guaranteed.

Teams have five days after the World Series ends to make one-year qualifying offers to their players eligible to become free agents. The amount is determined by averaging the salaries of the top 125 players from the previous season. This year it is $15.8 million.

In the three previous winters this collective bargaining agreement was in place, not one player accepted the qualifying offer. All elected free agency.

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But teams who sign a player who received a qualifying offer must forfeit their first-round pick in the next draft as compensation to the team that lost the player. Which is the rub. Not only does the signed player typically require a major contract, but a first-round pick. He’d better be good.

And is any team really going to sacrifice a first-round pick to sign Anderson, who just completed his first healthy season in six years?

Anderson made $12.4 million last season, so it’s not like he would not get a raise if he accepted a qualifying offer. If he were to elect free agency and attract a multiyear offer, what are the chances it averages $15.8 million?

Now you could argue $15.8 million is a lot of money for the Dodgers to pay a guy who was supposed to be their fifth starter. But it’s not dramatically more than what they paid him last season and they currently have only Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood in their rotation. And it’s not like they’ve been afraid to drop a few bucks the last couple of years.

So the Dodgers make him the qualifying offer (along with Zack Greinke and Howie Kendrick; sorry, J.P. Howell and Jimmy Rollins) and if he makes history and accepts, they have another starter. If he tests the market, they get a compensation first-round pick.

For the Dodgers, it could prove simple. For Anderson, not so much.

Anderson, who turns 28 in February, went 10-9 with a 3.69 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 31 starts last season. That should interest a lot of teams, though they’re obviously going to be wary of a player with his history of injuries. The Dodgers could also re-sign him to a multiyear deal. Last winter Francisco Liriano re-signed with the Pirates for three years and $39 million and Jake Peavy with the Giants for two years and $24 million, and they were 31 and 33 years old.

But if Anderson takes the gamble on free agency, he could go down the Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales road, no team willing to give up a first-round pick to sign them. He then could not sign without a team forfeiting a pick until late May.

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Teams have understandably been unwilling to lose a first-round pick for a second-tier player, though another option could present itself. A team can only lose one pick, so if they do sign a second player who rejected a qualifying offer, there’s no loss of a draft pick.

That would be a tough gamble for Anderson. He could have an interesting decision to make, and possibly, a historic one.

Twitter: @stevedilbeck


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