COMMENTARY | Fans of the Atlanta Braves should try not get too excited about Monday's news of the club extending veteran free-agent-to-be Brian McCann a qualifying offer to come back and play next season. If anything, this news may come as the first real confirmation McCann is going to be playing with another team's name written across his chest in 2014.
The qualifying offer is kind of like baseball's answer to the NFL's franchise-tag system. Teams try to retain their veteran free agents for one additional year at a predetermined price tag; although, unlike the NFL, the player can still reject the offer and become a free agent regardless.
Brian McCann's Offer
McCann's qualifying offer was for one year at $14.1 million -- which would still constitute a generous raise for a player who hit .256 and made $12 million last season. But McCann is expected to garner serious long-term deals from other clubs on the open market that the Braves are not predicted to match. McCann's qualifying offer should serve as proof the team will not be in the running for McCann, nor will it be expecting a hometown discount from its seven-time All-Star catcher.
So, if it is such as foregone conclusion that McCann will sign somewhere else, why did the Braves even waste their time offering McCann a deal they knew he would reject?
By giving McCann a qualifying offer, any team who eventually signs McCann in free agency will owe Atlanta a compensatory draft pick. The Braves did the same thing last season with Michael Bourn. By offering Bourn an obviously low-ball one-year $13.3 million offer, Atlanta received a draft pick from the Cleveland Indians when Bourn eventually signed with the Tribe for a four-year, $48 million deal.
With the Indians' pick in 2013, the Braves drafted right-handed pitcher Jason Hursh from Oklahoma State University with the No. 32 overall selection. However, because Atlanta signed B.J. Upton, who had received a qualifying offer of his own from the Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta lost its original first-round pick in the 2013 draft, making the whole thing a wash in the end.
I know … all these rules seem like they require an advanced degree in collective bargaining just to make heads or tails of MLB's offseason.
No Offer for Tim Hudson?
If you weren't already seriously confused, try this one on for size: The Braves offered McCann a qualifying offer because they expect to lose him, while they decided not to offer Hudson the same qualifying offer because they expect to re-sign him. Yes, it appears we have fallen into the Bizzaro World, where up is down, down is up and teams only offer contracts to players they don't want.
Even though the Hudson fractured his ankle in the middle of the 2013 season, he is expected to be back in time for spring training, and the Braves have made it known they would like to bring him back into the fold. The only reason Atlanta did not offer Hudson a qualifying offer is because he would have taken it.
The $14.1 million offer would have been $5.1 million more than Hudson's $9 million salary from 2012. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports the Braves have already offered Hudson a new contract, but it is said to be significantly lower than his 2012 deal. If Hudson tests free agency and does eventually jump ship for another club, the Braves will not receive a compensatory pick from his new team.
The Braves must also think twice about the free agents they try to sign. Below is a list of all of the other players who received qualifying offers from their clubs:
Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees
Hiroki Kuroda, SP, New York Yankees
Curtis Granderson, OF, New York Yankees
Carlos Beltran, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Cleveland Indians
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston Red Sox
Mike Napoli, 1B, Boston Red Sox
Stephen Drew, SS, Boston Red Sox
Nelson Cruz, OF, Texas Rangers
Ervin Santana, SP, Kansas City Royals
Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Kendrys Morales, DH, Seattle Mariners
Anthony Schreiber is a freelance sportswriter who has been following the Atlanta Braves for over 20 years. He has penned articles for a variety of online publications and magazines.
- Sports & Recreation
- Brian McCann
- Atlanta Braves