At $19.6M, These Are The Top 3 Toughest Qualifying Offer Decisions

Teams across MLB will have up to five days after the end of the World Series this weekend to decide whether to make the Qualifying Offer to impending free agents. The QO number this year has been set at $19.65M. If a team submits the QO to a player, he has the right to accept it and spend one more year, at $19.65M with his current team. But if the player refuses it, the team would receive draft pick compensation if that player signs as a free agent elsewhere. 

So which players are on the $19.65M threshold that would make a QO offer risky for a team? Here are the Top 5 toughest qualifying offer decisions for teams:

Tyler Anderson, Los Angeles Dodgers

The 32-year-old starting pitcher had a career year in 2022, posting a 2.57 ERA, a 15-5 record and a 138:34 K/BB ratio, number far better than his career marks. Is it sustainable? He benefited from an extraordinarily low BABIP (batting average on balls play) of .256 and doesn't even average 91 mph on his fastball. 

He signed an $8M contract with the Dodgers for 2022, easily the biggest payday of his career. But he's in line for something much bigger than that after the year he had. Will the Dodgers risk offering the QO? He might not be worth $19.6M for one season, but the Dodgers can certainly afford it, and if they don't offer it, they could lose him for nothing. And starting pitching is at a premium for LA going into 2023, with ace Walker Buhler out for most of the season after Tommy John surgery, and Clayton Kershaw considering whether to come back for one more year. 

Nate Eovaldi, Boston Red Sox

After another decent but not spectacular season, Eovaldi is coming off a 4-year deal that paid him $17M per year. The $19.65M QO isn't a huge bump up, but from his standpoint, he might not feel able to secure a better deal on the market, with several other big-time starters ahead of him (Jacob deGrom, Carlos Rodon, Justin Verlander, etc.), so he could be inclined to accept. Do the Red Sox want him at that price? 

The BoSox' rotation is a mess, so it's somewhat likely they try to retain him for a year at a modest raise. 

Martin Perez, Texas Rangers

Coming off a $4M buy-low gamble last offseason, the Rangers got a bargain elite season out of the 32-year-old Perez, seemingly out of nowhere. He posted an ERA of 2.89, a full run and a half lower than his career mark of 4.43. Similarly, his WHIP of 1.26 was miles below his mediocre lifetime mark of 1.44. 

Do the Rangers gamble nearly $20M on getting another stellar season like that out of Perez? Is his career year sustainable? If not, the QO would be a massive overpay.

Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports