Qualifying offers update: Stephen Drew, Ervin Santana, Kendrys Morales still without contracts

USA TODAY Sports

Robinson Cano wants the Mariners to sign Santana and Morales, but Seattle might not have the financial flexibility to do so.

After receiving the news that Taijuan Walker and Hisashi Iwakuma could miss the first month of the season, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik has probably considered calling Ervin Santana's agent. Maybe Kendrys Morales' as well, since the team could still use another bat.

However, if Robinson Cano wants his new team to sign one or both of those players, he might have to set them up with a loan. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman recently reported that two sources have indicated that the M's have "little to no loot left to spend."

The Mariners definitely aren't an option for Stephen Drew.

So, if Seattle's out of the running or at least less likely to sign any of the remaining qualified free agents, is there anyone out there who will?

All three players will reportedly consider sitting out until after the June draft, when their attachment to draft compensation disappears. Another important date is the day after the season begins, because as Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported last month, players can avoid a qualifying offer next season if they sign after the season is officially underway.

Signing after the first game of the year would allow the remaining qualified free agents to sign one-year deals with teams and pursue their desired multiyear contracts next winter without the risk of being tied to draft compensation. That might be preferable to sitting out a third of the season, but teams aren't necessarily hesitant to sign Drew, Santana, and Morales because of contract length alone. Some clubs might actually consider a one-year deal less desirable because of the collateral damage they will be forced to sustain in the draft, so the one-year deal hypothesis might not carry much weight in reality.

There have been many reports of injuries this spring, like Jhoulys Chacin's shoulder in Colorado and the Mariners' decision to shut down Walker, but unless a team with a clear need and the necessary resources has a player go down with a significant injury, the remaining qualified free agents' best course of action might be to sit out until June 8. If that is the case, the Major League Baseball Players Association is likely to take action in one way or another. They could choose to file a grievance against the owners, accusing them of collusion, but since there is an obvious link to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, that approach might not get them very far since they agreed to the deal. The current CBA runs through 2016, but if even one free agent chooses to sit out until after the draft, a recalibration of the agreement could be considered.

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