After the 2013 season was over, thirteen players were given qualified offers where the players could choose that option and receive $14.1 million for 2014. After all thirteen turned down the offers, five of the players did not sign long-term contracts: Hiroki Kuroda, Nelson Cruz, Ervin Santana, Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales. The first three made out just fine as we shall see. But Drew and Morales both lost a ton of money. Kuroda was a special circumstance. I believe he knew he was only going to pitch one last season of MLB and left his situation to the highest, one-year bidder. The Yankees re-signed him and Kuroda came out ahead on the deal by $900,000.
Nelson Cruz was coming off of a PED suspension and read his market well and signed a one-year deal with the Orioles. While the one year cost him $6 million, his calculated gamble paid off with a big season and just signed a four-year deal that will pay him $14.25 million per season. Well played, sir.
Even better played was Ervin Santana. He signed a one-year deal with the Braves for the exact amount of the qualified offer. He broke even for 2014 and he too just signed a four-year deal that will set him for life. He didn't lose a nickel.
Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew were not so fortunate. They (or their agent/adviser) totally misread the market and as 2014 began, neither had a job. Let's take a look at what that cost them.
Let's start with Morales. It was shocking to most of us that the Mariners gave Morales a qualifying offer. Yes, he had a very good offensive year in 2013. But he is a DH/1B type of which David Ortiz is the supermodel and Ortiz was only making $14 million in 2013. Who would you rather have, Ortiz or Morales? Exactly. So why would the Mariners ever offer such a player $14.1 million? As such, why would Kendrys Morales turn it down!?
That $14.1 million would have nearly doubled Morales' 2013 salary. Morales did not read the market or was given bad advice and nobody bit on Morales as the 2014 season opened without him. After losing both April and May, the Twins decided to sign Morales for $7.4 million. The entire season was a disaster for Morales much to the chagrin of the Twins who signed him and the Mariners who got him in a late season deal. The biggest loser was Morales who was in the hole by $6.7 million.
Surprisingly, the Royals gave Morales a two-year deal (with a third year option). The deal is fairly modest for the Royals and their new Billy Butler replacement (the original probably would have been better) will average $8.775 per season for the next two.
Let's assume that Morales might have had decent numbers if he had started his season on time for the Mariners. A contract around $11 million per season might have available had Morales had a regular season. So, by my take, Morales lost $6.5 million for 2015 and 2016 combined. Now add in the $6.7 million Morales already lost for 2014 and basically Kendrys Morales lost $13.5 million by not accepting the qualifying offer. That is a serious chunk of change.
That brings us to Stephen Drew who just signed with the Yankees for $5 million (incentives could push that to $6.5). That is a far cry from the $14.1 million he would have made in 2014 if he had taken the offer.
After sitting out April and May, the Red Sox knee-jerked on their terrible start to 2014 and brought Drew back for $10.1 million. That is a $4 million loss for Drew in 2014 alone. With two months absent, Drew never got anything going and had a really ugly season, one of the ugliest ever if Dan Uggla hadn't beaten him to it.
Drew went from a sought-after shortstop to a journeyman with one bad decision. Let's say Drew's problems all stemmed from his late start to the 2014 season I don't know if that is necessarily true. But let's speculate that it was. Then Drew would have been a 3 WAR player with some injury history and could have garnered a three year deal at $12 or $13 million.I think the high side would have been accurate considering the dearth of shortstops in the game.
If you tally up Drew's losses, you see $4 million for 2013 and $8.5 million for 2015. And that doesn't include what he would make next year or the year after which is now a very much an open question. If he doesn't get much playing time with the Yankees and regain his status, he very much could be a utility guy hanging on for a million or two a year. The decision not to take the qualifying offer might have proved catastrophic for Drew's overall career.
I don't know who you blame on this one. Marginally great players get screwed by the draft pick associated with the qualified offer. Not one player in the past two seasons has accepted the offer. So either this is a bad deal for the players that needs to be fixed or a huge mistake in an agent - player scenario. Drew and Morales really took a beating for one decision. I just can't imagine losing that much money.