Several weeks ago Jon Doble at Redbird Dugout wrote a piece about Lance Lynn and what he could expect to garner on the free agent market.
The whole thing is worth a read, but here’s the crux:
So I think something north of what Zimmermann and Cueto got is a good target for what he is likely to get, especially given that it’s been a couple years, the 2015-16 offseason was littered with quality pitcher and the 2016-17 offseason was not. I think 5 years, $125 million or 6 years, $140 million is a good market target for what Lynn should expect to be able to get on the open market.
So far in 2017, Lance Lynn has been Lance Lynn-y. He’s made 12 starts, posted a 2.88 ERA and won 4 games.
He’s pretty much a dreamboat for a manager and the front office: Start —> Keep team in game for 6-8 innings —> Give generic soundbite to media everyone forgets before he finishes saying it —> Rest 4 days —> Repeat.
All he had to do this season was prove that his arm was healthy and he was going to get a big contract. At this current level of play, though, he’s putting a massive payday in play. Especially when the agent of the other top free-agent pitcher of ’17 is out in these streets screaming about how his client is still elite… promise!
The Cardinals are going to have to go big to keep Lance Lynn in St. Louis.
But… does he actually want to be in St. Louis?
The Cardinals are mired in a deep rut. They’ve somehow managed to lose fourteen games where they had a lead of two or more runs.
Not a typo… 14!
One of the fourteen happened last night in Cincinnati when Cardinals manager Mike Matheny decided to make a curious pitching decision regarding starter Lance Lynn:
Lynn had thrown 3 1/3 innings of no-hit ball to start the game, and had allowed only an infield single to Votto when he started the fifth. The Cardinals led 3-0 when Scott Schebler hit a solo home run off Lynn. The righthander completed the inning with nary another ding, and had thrown only 78 pitches through five innings and struck out four. He was ready to take his at-bat in the fifth — had his helmet ready and everything — when Matheny called him back.
Was Mr. Lynn happy?
“I never like to be taken out of the game, if I have a low pitch count or a high pitch count,” he said. “I always think I can get the next guy out or throw more innings. If the game is over with me throwing the last pitch, that’s the only time I’m ever going to be happy. I always have more in the tank. No matter what.”
No. No he wasn’t happy.
Now, in fairness, the pinch hitter (Dexter Fowler) did hit a double that scored one run and got another run thrown out at the plate (naturally). Strictly in the context of this game, the move did what the manager intended it to do.
But let’s look at it from Lance Lynn’s perspective, though.
This is his free-agent year. He knows that every single start he makes this season is either costing or making him very significant sums of money. And instead of getting the chance to go 7 or 8 innings, give up 1 run and earn a desperately needed win for his team (boosting his ‘intangibles’ and ‘big-gaminess’)… he’s got every other GM that wasn’t at Great American Ballpark last night wondering why he was yanked after 5 innings and 78 pitches.
‘Something wrong with his arm?!’ he can picture them saying.
Speaking of questions, here are some others he might be asking himself this morning:
- Would the Dodgers do this to Clayton Kershaw? The Giants with MadBum? The Nats with Max Scherzer?
- Is this team going to be competitive the next 5 years?
- Are the Cardinals going to do everything they can to put me in the best position succeed the rest of the year?
- How does this team view me? Do they think I’m an elite starter?
And probably more.
My point (I promise there’s a point) is that all that money mentioned above? That’s where the conversation has focused. Should the Cardinals pay Lance Lynn 125M+ for 5 years?
But we haven’t thought much about if Lance Lynn wants to take that (or any) offer from the Cardinals. If skip doesn’t think you’re the kind of starter that’s able to hold on to a close lead… or that you’re playing on a team that has to make drastic moves to score runs… maybe you’re better off being Lance Lynn someplace else.
Remember when Jason Heyward turned down the most money from the Cardinals?
I’ll grant you that I’m like a thousand steps ahead of this whole process and that a thousand other things can change the course of what happens with Lance Lynn this off-season.
That being said, big decisions – for you, me, anyone – can usually be reduced (after the fact) to a few moments where you said ‘there – right there – I knew I was going to do XYZ’.
If I’m being candid… last night could end up being one of those moments for Lance Lynn. And if it is? It won’t be great news for fans of the Cardinals.
Photo: Redbird Rants