Starting Pitcher Jason Vargas is a free agent after the Angels declined him a qualifying offer.
A "Qualifying Offer" is every team's option with players reaching free agency. It is a one-year contract for a flat amount that puts the player in the top tier of annual salaries. For 2014, Q.O. Contracts pay $14.1 Million. When the Q.O. is offered and the player signs with another team, the player's former club receives the first or second round draft pick of the signing club as compensation.
The Angels are desperate for starting pitching but are so close to the luxury tax threshold that their hope has to be to sign Vargas for under the QO amount.
Here is the problem - if the Angels offer him too little, another team might see him as worth at least what they are offering and throw in a little more. Plenty of teams are so far below the Luxury Tax that they could grab Vargas. The Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Dodgers could do it just to spite the Halos, let alone grab a league average lefty who eats innings as a number 4 or 5.
The Royals made a Qualifying Offer to Ervin Santana. The M's made one to Kendrys Morales. The Nationals did not make one to Dan Haren. So the two players we traded are considered worth keeping by their clubs but the two we traded for are not.
The luxury tax may have painted 2014 and 2015 into a corner called third place.