Although previous reporting was certainly suggestive of a situation where the Colorado Rockies were valuing starting pitcher Jon Gray much lower than the market was likely to, a more recent report suggests the disconnect isn’t quite that significant.
And it matters, since the question of a Qualifying Offer for Gray may present a fundamental dividing line for whether the Cubs do or do not pursue him.
“Despite a full season of exclusive bargaining, the Rockies waited until their final homestand to offer Gray a contract extension, a three-year deal in the range of $35 million to $40 million, a source said. A contract with an average annual value of about $12.5 million would put him on the lower end of similar recent free-agent pitchers. So Gray turned down that offer and will become a free agent no later than Thursday, one day after the World Series.
Now the Rockies, faced with the threat of losing one of their best pitchers for nothing in return, will be forced to extend Gray a qualifying offer for the set price of one year and $18.4 million. It’s an insurance policy. If Gray does find a better deal somewhere else, that acquiring team will [lose draft pick(s)]. If not, Gray could accept that one-year deal.”
Previously, there were indications that Gray’s desired price tag could be surprisingly reasonable – three or four seasons at $9 to $10 million per year – and that led us to at least a couple conclusions: (1) Gray probably wouldn’t be receiving a Qualifying Offer, and (2) Gray could be a clear value sign for a team like the Cubs.
But if it’s true that Gray received and rejected a three-year deal for $12-ish million per year, then clearly the report about his desired contract range was light. Very light.
Indeed, if Gray is looking for quite a bit more than 3/$36M, for example, then the chances he receives a Qualifying Offer go way up (because the Rockies might expect him to decline it). And if Gray hits free agency attached to draft pick compensation, the “value” in signing him to a 4/$60M deal (for example), goes down even further. He would cost the Cubs their high second round pick, the bonus pool space associated with it, and $500,000 in IFA bonus pool space, too.
As we’ve discussed, this Qualifying Offer Problem is not really unique to the Cubs, but the whole reason for getting a little excited about Gray was the surprising contract value he might present. If that ain’t the case, then, well, I get a lot less excited. (And if he accepts the Qualifying Offer, none of this matters anyway.)
In short, I am bummed by the new report, because now I don’t know how much of the previous discussion still applies:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) October 24, 2021
Qualifying Offer decisions are due five days after the end of the World Series, so early next week.