14 players received qualifying offers this year, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN (Twitter link). The list is as follows:
As a refresher, the qualifying offer is a one-year offer a team can make to impending free agents. Players who have previously received a QO in their careers and/or didn’t spend the entire preceding season with one team cannot receive a qualifying offer. The value of the offer is calculated by averaging the salaries of the 125 highest-paid players in MLB. For the 2022-23 offseason, it is set at $19.65MM.
If a player accepts the QO, he returns to his current team for next season on that salary. If he declines, the team would receive compensation if he were to sign elsewhere. The specific compensation depends on the team’s status as both a luxury tax payor and whether they receive revenue sharing payments. MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk took a look at the compensation each team would receive for losing a qualified free agent last week.
Signing a player who refuses a QO from another team requires the signing team to forfeit draft picks and/or international signing bonus space. As with compensation for losing qualified free agents, the specific nature of the forfeiture is dependent on revenue sharing status and the competitive balance tax.
The majority of players who receive qualifying offers decline them each offseason. Judge, Turner, Bogaerts, deGrom, Swanson, Rodón, Nimmo, Contreras and Bassitt were always virtual locks to receive a QO. They’ll assuredly turn them down and sign multi-year contracts, either with their incumbent teams or other clubs. Rejecting a qualifying offer, to be clear, does not affect a player’s ability to continue negotiating with his previous team.
Rizzo, Anderson and Pérez were all more borderline QO candidates, although reports in recent days had suggested each was likely to receive the offer. There’s a case for all three players in that group to accept, although their representatives will have five days to gauge the market before making that decision. Pérez has reportedly received a two-year offer from Texas. The sides have long expressed mutual interest in agreement, but they’ve yet to come to terms on a longer deal.
The final two qualified free agents come as more surprising developments. Eovaldi always looked like a borderline QO candidate. He recently wrapped up a four-year, $68MM contract with the Red Sox. The right-hander was generally effective over the life of that deal, but his 2022 campaign was more of a mixed bag. Shoulder and back injuries limited him to 20 starts and 109 1/3 innings. His 3.87 ERA over that stretch was right in line with his 2020-21 marks, but his strikeout rate dropped a few points to a league average 22.4%. Eovaldi’s fastball also dipped slightly from siting just under 97 MPH down to 95.7 MPH, but that’s still plenty impressive velocity. Paired with his elite strike-throwing ability and the Red Sox’s need for rotation help, they’d be content to bring the 32-year-old back for just under $20MM if he accepted the QO.
The most surprising qualifying offer recipient, however, is Pederson. San Francisco signed the outfielder to a one-year, $6MM deal last winter after an up-and-down 2021 campaign with the Cubs and Braves. The left-handed slugger responded with an excellent .274/.353/.521 showing, connecting on 23 home runs in 433 plate appearances. Pederson also posted elite batted ball marks, including a 93.2 MPH average exit velocity that’s around five MPH above league average. He also made hard contact (a batted ball hit 95 MPH or harder) on a career-best 52.1% of his balls in play.
That figured to give 30-year-old a strong shot at a multi-year offer, although it’s still surprising to see the Giants offer him nearly $20MM to return. Pederson played left field in Oracle Park, but he rated as 12 runs below average over 685 innings in the estimation of Defensive Runs Saved. He’s consistently posted subpar defensive marks and is limited to the corner outfield or designated hitter. The Giants also shielded him against southpaws, limping him to 57 plate appearances against left-handed pitching.
Some notable players who were eligible for a qualifying offer but did not receive one include Jameson Taillon, Mitch Haniger, Taijuan Walker, Andrew Heaney and Michael Wacha. That group will all hit the open market unencumbered by draft pick compensation, which should be a boost to their free agent stocks.
Of the crop of QO recipients, Pederson looks likeliest to accept, although it’s possible that anyone in the group turns the offer down if their reps find interest over multi-year pacts. Players have until the evening of November 15 to determine whether to accept or turn down the QO.