Who said you can’t go home again? (Actually, it was Thomas Wolfe, but that’s not important right now.)
This winter’s free agent market proved that old axiom to be false.
The market was unique for a few things. The first being, there was a ton of premium, game-changing, franchise-defining talent available. More top quality or near top quality talent than anyone could remember was available this off-season.
The premium pitching got snapped up first. But the big offensive pieces had to wait until the market sorted itself out.
When the dust settled, what was really unusual was a pattern of player movement I can’t remember ever see playing itself out in this way.
One, for the first time ever, players actually accepted the qualifying offer from their team. Two, many free agents went back to their team.
Matt Weiters, Colby Rasmus, and Brett Anderson accepted their qualifying offers and stayed.
But even stranger is the amount of free agents who stayed as well. Chris Davis went back to Baltimore. Alex Gordon went back to Kansas City. Marco Estrada re-signed with Toronto. Hisahi Iwakuma ended up back in Seattle. (Cespedes went back to New York, but he doesn’t count in this story because he wasn’t eligible for a qualifying offer.)
And there are a few yet unsigned.
That’s seven players who were offered a qualifying offer that will not trigger the subsequent gain of a draft pick that their former (and now future) teams would have enjoyed had their player signed with another team.
That’s a significant number for a team like the Rangers.
Because even though Texas didn’t get a whiff of the free agent market this off-season, they will reap the benefit of that.
Once Yovani Gallardo signs, and assuming it is not back with Texas, the Rangers will be due a draft pick as compensation for losing him.
Because of the way free agency played out, and because the Rangers front office took the winter off, Texas just moved up seven picks in the draft.
That could be pretty significant if they play their cards right.
All of which means, the Rangers big free agent signing news will actually come in the compensatory draft this summer.
Certainly not as flashy. But maybe a whole lot smarter. And cheaper.