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Handing a Qualifying Offer to Michael Pineda

The Minnesota Twins are going to be looking at filling a starting rotation that has just one guaranteed arm for 2020. A top-tier talent or two is going to be a must but bolstering the group with a strong 4th or 5th is equally as important. Derek Falvey will need to decide on what holdovers he wants back, but Michael Pineda is a talent that could be worthy of a qualifying offer.
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
Reports have suggested that the 2020 qualifying offer amount will drop to $17.8 million, which is a $100,000 step back from 2019. Determined by the average of the top 125 salaries in the game, it’s the first season that the amount has taken a step backwards. That alone is just another bullet point in a long list that the MLBPA must attack in upcoming CBA discussions.

Minnesota organized a shrewd pact with the former Yankees starter prior to the 2018 season. Paying him $2 million to watch over his Tommy John rehab, he then made another $8 million as a fully healthy starter in 2019. Posting one of the best seasons in his career, Pineda was estimated to be worth $21.1 million after accumulating 2.7 fWAR. His season came to an abrupt halt after failing a PED test for taking a diuretic he noted as being for weight loss. At least in part, an appeals process deemed his reasoning sufficient, as his suspension was reduced to 60 games and would not have carried postseason ineligibility.

From a merit-based standpoint, Pineda has plenty going in his favor. The 4.01 ERA was the best he had posted since his rookie season, and his 1.7 BB/9 established command not seen since 2015. After an ugly first month of the season, Minnesota got a 3.46 ERA in 117.0 IP from Pineda and he allowed opposing batters just a .670 OPS against him. Prior to his suspension, there was serious steam to him being the Game One starter in the American League Division Series.

Looking ahead we see a soon-to-be 31-year-old that has had some health concerns. Pineda is now well distanced from Tommy John surgery, but he’s never pitched more than 175 innings in a given year, and (as evidenced by the intentions of weight loss) is not slight in stature. The body of work and physical profile make him somewhat of a risk on a long-term contract, but that’s mitigated on a one-year deal, and even moreso through the 2020 qualifying offer implications.

The Twins have a substantial cash flow going into the upcoming offseason, and while they could certainly afford to pay Pineda nearly $18 million for a single year, that’s probably not the best plan of action. Fortunately, because of his remaining suspension, that’s not what the bill would look like. Having something north of 35 games left to serve for 2020, Pineda’s deal would be a prorated portion of that total QO. Rough math indicates a bill resembling something just shy of $14 million, which would be more enticing.
Again, there’s no denying that an arm like Pineda’s can’t be the premiere acquisition, but we saw how important a strong back-end starter can be with the revolving door in 2019. Allowing an internal option or two an avenue to hold down the fort until Pineda is reinstated would be a solid blueprint, and there’s no long-term commitment here either. If the QO gets rejected, Minnesota gets draft pick compensation and wins either way.

What do you think? Does Pineda get a QO if you’re in charge?

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59 Comments

NO!! I want him back but offer a reasonable contract to him, but with his suspension a $17+ ‘QO is excessive. Plus I think he’d give the Twins a discount. 

    • Kelly Vance, mikelink45, KGB and 3 others like this
Because of the remaining suspension, it would be easier for Pineda to decline the QO and wait until June to sign.

Also, the Fangraphs dollar value is based on something like $8 mil per WAR, which isn't necessarily a great deal for a team with the Twins payroll. (Isn't necessarily bad either.)
    • mikelink45 and blindeke like this

No - obviously they can sign him if they want, I am not interested.

One hundred percent yes. This is almost a no-brainer to me given the reduced cost for his suspension at the beginning of the year and that we are pretty confident he wasn't cheating given the reduced penalty.

    • birdwatcher, Twins33, LA VIkes Fan and 3 others like this
Basically, assuming they don't acquire three starters in addition to Pineda..... They will need to use Dobnak and another guy for seven to eight starts each.... Do people want the next best guy to make that many starts? It also guarantees Dobnak needs to make at least eight.... They can't skip him.
IMO he isn't worth a QO. Was the suspension a one time thing? Can the Twins rely on him?
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KirbyDome89
Oct 15 2019 11:47 PM

This team needs to start putting some arms around Berrios that aren't stop gaps. If Pineda is the 5th spot in the rotation then a short term QO is fine. If the intention is to bank on a guy who's already a serious health risk to repeat this last season and be a top of the rotation starter then it's a hard pass. High caliber internal arms aren't exactly knocking at the door, there's Graterol and then a group that barely got a taste of AA or hasn't even reached that level yet. 

    • tarheeltwinsfan and jz7233 like this
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yarnivek1972
Oct 16 2019 05:09 AM

Because of the remaining suspension, it would be easier for Pineda to decline the QO and wait until June to sign.

Also, the Fangraphs dollar value is based on something like $8 mil per WAR, which isn't necessarily a great deal for a team with the Twins payroll. (Isn't necessarily bad either.)

I’m not positive on this, but I’m pretty sure the suspension doesn’t start until he’s on someone’s roster. In other words, if he signs in June, he still has to sit 35 games. In other words, a QO in this particular case would give the Twins an enormous amount of leverage.
    • birdwatcher, blindeke, DocBauer and 3 others like this
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Nine of twelve
Oct 16 2019 05:54 AM

 

I’m not positive on this, but I’m pretty sure the suspension doesn’t start until he’s on someone’s roster. In other words, if he signs in June, he still has to sit 35 games. In other words, a QO in this particular case would give the Twins an enormous amount of leverage.

If this is true, and it would make sense if it is, this is a very good point.

So it's comparable to when the Twins signed him while he was unable to pitch because of his injury and surgery. The difference is now they would be signing him while he is unable to pitch because of his suspension. And they don't have to pay him during his suspension.

I think he's worth having for the 127 games for which he would be eligible, but it depends on who else we would sign and/or promote to be in the starting rotation.

    • birdwatcher, LA VIkes Fan, tarheeltwinsfan and 3 others like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Oct 16 2019 06:10 AM

He's in my offseason plan that I'm drafting right now... but um.. no way he gets anything close to a QO on the open market. They can retain him for less than that. 

    • birdwatcher, brvama, KGB and 1 other like this
I could see the QO as a first move toward signing him to a deal. Considering his situation he may take a two year deal? If so, perfect, then get him on the same conditioning plan that Sano was on. In fact make that plan a part of the deal. Get him in better shape and he won't need to cheat. If this huge guy dropped forty or fifty he could go on quite the run. Remember this is a bird in hand, we can only count on so many from the bush.
    • birdwatcher, Kelly Vance and howieramone2 like this

 

I’m not positive on this, but I’m pretty sure the suspension doesn’t start until he’s on someone’s roster. In other words, if he signs in June, he still has to sit 35 games. In other words, a QO in this particular case would give the Twins an enormous amount of leverage.

Good question!

 

But I don't think that's true. Here's an article on Cody Stanley from a few years ago, who got suspended in September 2015 and the Cardinals non-tendered him a few months later, during his suspension, and he did not re-sign with any club:

 

https://www.foxsport...osenthal-070916

 

 

 

Stanley, who became a free agent after the Cardinals did not offer a contract in December, was eligible to return from his suspension on June 3.

 

The JDA doesn't explicitly say what happens in these circumstances. All it seems to say is:

 

A Player whose suspension begins during (or extends into) the off-season shall begin (or resume) serving his suspension with the next “game” for which he otherwise would have been eligible to play.

 

Perhaps the player can't retire like Manny Ramirez tried a few years back, but otherwise, I don't think release or free agency pauses the suspension. If it was determined that Stanley "otherwise would have been eligible to play" for the Cardinals on opening day 2016, even though he was no longer under contract, then the same would apply to Pineda in 2020.

 

But it's an interesting question, and I'll see if I can dig up some more info. Examples of late-season suspensions are pretty scarce!

    • Minny505 likes this

Can he be trusted? He was hit with the PED bit this season, but was he not caught having pine tar on his neck when he was a Yankee? My memory is bad but that is what I am coming up with. If he is that rulebook challenged, what is next when the team really needs him?

    • Bomba2026 likes this

That said, I don't think Pineda will hold out this offseason. (But I also don't think he'll get a QO either.)

 

From the JDA, Pineda would still be eligible to participate in spring training games because he had his suspension reduced.

 

And players suspended 51+ games can also have a 15 day minor league assignment before they are eligible to return.

 

See pages 45-46 here:

http://www.mlb.com/pa/pdf/jda.pdf

 

So Pineda could be pretty active for a club next spring, despite the suspension.

    • Dman, DocBauer, howieramone2 and 1 other like this

He’s an older player that got paid by the twins to rehab and then got busted for a banned substance.  His action clearly hurt the Twins playoff run. And he gets rewarded with $17 million?  I don’t care if he doesn’t get paid for 35 games this is a lousy message to players and a bad game plan for the Twins.

    • birdwatcher and labcrazy like this
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VivaBomboRivera!
Oct 16 2019 07:55 AM

A player who has twice demonstratedgrave errors in judgement and left his teammates in the lurch is not a good risk.Add a clause that he has to report to camp 20 pounds lighter or he gets paid less.

    • birdwatcher, jgfellows and wabene like this
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Ted Schwerzler
Oct 16 2019 08:07 AM

 

NO!! I want him back but offer a reasonable contract to him, but with his suspension a $17+ ‘QO is excessive. Plus I think he’d give the Twins a discount. 

 

I laid out in the article that he wouldn't actually be paid $17MM. It'd be just under $14MM, and that is what his market should be near.

    • howieramone2 and In My La-Z-boy like this
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Ted Schwerzler
Oct 16 2019 08:10 AM

 

He’s an older player that got paid by the twins to rehab and then got busted for a banned substance.  His action clearly hurt the Twins playoff run. And he gets rewarded with $17 million?  I don’t care if he doesn’t get paid for 35 games this is a lousy message to players and a bad game plan for the Twins.

Morality in sports doesn't really work like this. You pay for talent. Jorge Polanco is a young player that actually cheated using PEDs (not just a weight loss diuretic) and was handed a 5 year deal.

    • Twins33, Danchat, VOMG and 4 others like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Oct 16 2019 08:17 AM

 

I laid out in the article that he wouldn't actually be paid $17MM. It'd be just under $14MM, and that is what his market should be near.

Count me in as a skeptic on that one... If it is, then a QO is a no brainer... I think Pineda signs it as fast he he can, because he's not getting a better deal with a 40 game suspension and the added risk to a second offense. 

    • Steve Lein and brvama like this
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Sssuperdave
Oct 16 2019 08:26 AM

So here's my thought process on Pineda:

 

1. Was he getting any actual on-field benefit from whatever banned substances he was taking? If he was, you've got to assume some performance regression next year.

 

2. What's the temperature in the clubhouse towards him? Are players bitter towards him or are they forgiving? Next year, would he be a good or a bad clubhouse influence?

 

Assuming the answer to #1 is that he wasn't getting any on-field benefit from the substances and assuming the answer to #2 is that the player are forgiving an he's a good clubhouse influence, then I think he is worth the QO. He's had enough flashes of effectiveness in his career that I think there's a good chance everything comes together for him and he posts an ERA in the low-to-mid 3's next year.

 

If the answer to those two questions I posed goes the other way, I don't give him the QO.

    • birdwatcher, LA VIkes Fan, wabene and 1 other like this
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Jeremy Nygaard
Oct 16 2019 08:27 AM

This is a no-brainer "yes" in my opinion. What's the worst-case scenario? He accepts and the Twins have a rotation piece locked in for $13,780,645? (My math: $17.8m / 186 calendar days x 144 (37 games and 5 off days means he'll be active for 144 days)). That amount of money certainly wouldn't hinder the Twins from making other moves and they'll know early about a second firm piece of their 2020 rotation. (Unlike this past year, the Twins will need a 5th starter during March and the early parts of April, so that is one downfall.)

 

After the way he pitched this season, there's going to be a market for him. And coming unglued from pick compensation in early-June, plus serving a suspension, and needing to "rehab," the signing team isn't getting more than a couple months of him next season.

 

So his choices are getting a multi-year deal and the signing team giving up a draft pick or taking $13 million and be free of the compensation when he hits the market after 2020 at age 31. This also seems like a no-brainer for Pineda.

    • Twins33, dbminn and howieramone2 like this

Although, assuming Pineda's suspension will suppress his market quite a bit on its own, would the Twins be better off trying to sign him for a similar amount *without* the QO? Then we'd have the option to QO him after 2020 instead, if his performance warrants it, of course. (Or we could leverage a second year option or something?)

 

Of course, Pineda might play hardball and try to draw the QO this offseason, so it would be off the table when he hits FA again next winter.

    • Minny505, wabene and In My La-Z-boy like this

 

After the way he pitched this season, there's going to be a market for him. And coming unglued from pick compensation in early-June, plus serving a suspension, and needing to "rehab," the signing team isn't getting more than a couple months of him next season.

Like I said upthread, I think Pineda will get suspension credit starting opening day, even if he doesn't sign a contract before then (see Cody Stanley, 2015-2016). So he could be active immediately upon signing in June, although he'd miss out on spring training and the 15 day minor league assignment which isn't insignificant.

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diehardtwinsfan
Oct 16 2019 08:42 AM

 

Although, assuming Pineda's suspension will suppress his market quite a bit on its own, would the Twins be better off trying to sign him for a similar amount *without* the QO? Then we'd have the option to QO him after 2020 instead, if his performance warrants it, of course. (Or we could leverage a second year option or something?)

 

Of course, Pineda might play hardball and try to draw the QO this offseason, so it would be off the table when he hits FA again next winter.

I could see him signing the lower offer with a guarantee in writing of no QO next season... if he really doesn't want it. 

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In My La-Z-boy
Oct 16 2019 08:43 AM

Yes I hope they attempt to sign him - and I would give the QO if necessary. Playoffs this year prove what we all know. You cannot have enough quality pitching. Cannot. Love to see what the Nats did - after Harper. Pitching rules the day in October. 

    • birdwatcher, Kelly Vance, wabene and 1 other like this

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