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Lynn rejects qualifying offer, becomes FA

MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- As expected, right-handed starter Lance Lynn declined the qualifying offer the Cardinals made last week and will continue to explore his options as a first-time free agent.

Lynn was one of nine players across Major League Baseball to whom a qualifying offer was extended. None of those nine accepted the one-year deal, which would have been worth $17.4 million. If any had, it would have been binding.

ST. LOUIS -- As expected, right-handed starter Lance Lynn declined the qualifying offer the Cardinals made last week and will continue to explore his options as a first-time free agent.

Lynn was one of nine players across Major League Baseball to whom a qualifying offer was extended. None of those nine accepted the one-year deal, which would have been worth $17.4 million. If any had, it would have been binding.

Though the Cardinals were prepared to have Lynn back had he taken the one-year contract, the organization never anticipated that he would. But in making the offer, the Cardinals are assured of netting a compensation Draft pick if Lynn signs elsewhere this offseason.

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Because the Cardinals do not receive revenue sharing and did not exceed the luxury-tax salary threshold last season, that extra Draft selection would come after Competitive Balance Round B, which ends with pick No. 75. The value of Lynn's new contract will not be a factor in determining the slot of that pick.

The only way the Cardinals won't get the additional pick is if Lynn ends up re-signing with the Cardinals anyway. However, that seems like an unlikely conclusion.

Throughout the season, Lynn expressed interest in opening extension talks with the Cardinals. Such discussions never came to fruition, nor did the Cardinals reach out to Lynn's agent in the weeks before making the qualifying offer. Neither side seems optimistic about there being mutual interest in a reunion now, which means that Lynn's tenure in St. Louis is likely over.

The Cardinals selected Lynn with the 39th overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft, and he made his Major League debut three seasons later before moving into the rotation in '12. Now 30 years old, Lynn helped his value ahead of free agency by making a strong return from Tommy John surgery in '17.

Lynn made a team-high 33 starts in 2017, finishing with an 11-8 record and a 3.43 ERA. His home run rate (1.3 per nine innings) and walk rate (10.1 percent) were career highs, but Lynn's durability and career ERA+ of 124 should make him one of the more attractive free-agent starters.

As for the Cardinals, they are prepared to fill the hole created by Lynn's departure with one of their young, rising starters. The club hasn't ruled out considering free-agent starters as well, but their preference is to not swim in the deep end of that market where large and long commitments will be necessary.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

St. Louis Cardinals, Lance Lynn