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Qualifying offers might not repel White Sox this year

Pablo Sandoval rumor suggests that Rick Hahn is willing to hand over his second-round pick for a free-agent upgrade

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball's general managers meetings soft-launch in Phoenix today, and Rick Hahn has at least one extra item on his calendar during the week.

MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo says the White Sox are one of four teams planning to meet with Pablo Sandoval's agent, Gustavo Vasquez, at the meetings. The other three: the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Giants.

There's not much to be gleaned from this item at this point, except 1) the White Sox are in position to talk big contracts with big free agents, and 2) they understand they can do better at third base, even after a nice year by Conor Gillaspie.

It also could mean they're willing to forgo their second-round pick in the 2015 draft if the upgrade is worth it. Sandoval was one of 12 free agents to receive a qualifying offer, and it's a given that he'll reject the one-year, $15.3 million deal. The White Sox's first-round pick is protected because they had one of baseball's 10 worst records in 2014, so they'd have to hand over their second pick in any such deal.

The list of free agents who received a qualifying offer ...

  • Pablo Sandoval
  • Max Scherzer
  • James Shields
  • Ervin Santana
  • Francisco Liriano
  • David Robertson
  • Victor Martinez
  • Nelson Cruz
  • Russell Martin
  • Melky Cabrera
  • Hanley Ramirez
  • Michael Cuddyer

... will have to make up their minds today. Most of them will reject it, but there are a couple who might think a $15.3 million contract is worth their while. Cuddyer, for instance, could see his mid-range value (two years, $20-25 million?)  crushed by draft-pick compensation, just like such strings attached hampered guys like Cruz and Kendrys Morales last year.

At least Cruz stands a good chance of making up for lost money. He settled for a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles after rejecting a $14.1 million qualifying offer last year. He then proceeded to hit 40 homers for the AL East-winning Orioles, so he could be in position to receive fatter offers than he envisioned last season.

Cruz might've swayed some thinking about the worth of a draft pick, at least for teams in a certain position. The Tacoma News-Tribune reported that the Mariners had a one-year, $7.5 million deal with Cruz in place last winter -- it even had a club option for 2015 -- but ownership quashed it due to concerns about the Biogenesis scandal.

The Mariners kept their second-round pick as a result, but they went 87-75 and missed the second wild card spot by a game. It's safe to say the Mariners wouldn't have posted the league's worst DH production (.190/.266/.301!) with Cruz available, and that could've put them into the wild card game. Theoretically, Cruz would've given them a big-enough boost to host the wild card game, which would've brought in enough money to forget about that pick.

The White Sox aren't automatically on the doorstep of a wild card spot right now, but they might be closer than it seems. They went just 73-89, but they undercut their win total by carrying zero bench depth all season and trading away MLB-quality players in August. If you think last year's team had 77 or 78 wins in them without those self-imposed restrictions, then maybe they're in better position for a surge than their actual record indicates.

It'd be optimal if the Sox didn't have to surrender their second-round pick, because they've made good use of that spot over the last five years (Spencer Adams, Tyler Danish, Chris Beck, Erik Johnson and Jake Petricka), and it's an extra $1 million for their draft budget. But assuming the Sox leave bottom-10 territory in 2015 with no designs on returning anytime soon, this particular draft pick is probably the easiest one to sacrifice out of any in the foreseeable future.