ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals made Carlos Beltran a qualifying offer (one year, $14. 1 million) before Monday's 4 p.m. CT deadline, though they do not expect the 36-year-old outfielder to take the offer and forgo free agency.
Beltran has a week to accept or reject the one-year contract, the value of which was determined by taking the average salary of the 125 highest-paid players in 2013. If Beltran were to accept the offer, it is binding. Should he reject it, as anticipated, the Cardinals would pick up a compensation pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft if he signs elsewhere. That extra selection would fall immediately after the first round.
The Cardinals did not extend qualifying offers to any of their other free agents.
While general manager John Mozeliak reiterated on Monday that he does not "want to close doors" regarding a possible Beltran return, the organization appears prepared to construct its 2014 roster without him. Beltran, who just played out a two-year, $26 million contract with the Cardinals, is seeking a multiyear deal. He is expected to garner such offers -- just not from St. Louis.
Looking ahead to next season, the Cardinals believe they are covered in right field with Allen Craig (Matt Adams would play first) and/or Oscar Taveras (Craig would play first). Beyond that, the organization anticipates outfielder Stephen Piscotty, who is thriving in the Arizona Fall League, to continue his rise through the system.
With seemingly sufficient coverage at the position, the Cardinals can instead allocate their financial resources to address another need.
"The reality is that when you look at the depth of what we have and what we have coming, trying to find ample amount of playing time for all the individuals involved, I'm not sure how happy he would be," Mozeliak said of Beltran, who hit .282 with 56 homers and 181 RBIs in 296 games with the Cardinals.
Assuming Beltran rejects the qualifying offer, he will cost the next team that signs him more than just a dollar figure. He will also cost that club a Draft pick. And as was the case with Kyle Lohse last winter, this can be a haggling point for the small group of free agents who receive these qualifying offers.
A team that signs a player who turned down a qualifying offer forfeits its first-round Draft pick, unless it is has a top 10-selection. In that case, a second-round pick is lost.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.