Predicting the 2022-23 qualifying offer choices

November 7th, 2022

Each year, there’s a particular moment when the offseason really begins. It’s not the final pitch of the World Series, and it’s not when free agent signings start flying. It’s that day, five days after the conclusion of the World Series, when teams must decide whether to extend qualifying offers to eligible free agents. It might not be as high profile as, say, whatever contract Aaron Judge might end up signing, but it’s an important first step, and it’s the earliest real milestone of the winter.

A reminder, then, on what this all means:

  • A qualifying offer is a one-year contract offer
  • It’s for the mean salary of the 125 highest-paid players, which this year is $19.65 million
  • The team has 5 days after the World Series to extend an offer, which in this case will be Thursday (Nov. 10)
  • The player then has until Nov. 15 by 4 p.m. ET to accept
  • If the player accepts, he returns for one year, $19.65 million
  • If the player declines, his former club receives compensation as laid out here

Got all that? This system has been around since 2012, during which time 110 players have received such an offer. For the most part, the ones who get one don’t accept it; only 11 of the 110 have, though we’ve seen it happen three times in the last two years.

So, as we’ve done in the past, let’s make some guesses. Who’s going to get one? Who’s going to take one? For some of these players, it’s going to make a big difference in their offseason.

(For these purposes, we’ll assume that any player with a good case to opt out of their contracts (such as Justin Verlander, Jacob deGrom and Xander Bogaerts] will exercise that right to become a free agent, with the exception of Nolan Arenado, who has already said he’ll stay with St. Louis.)

But before we get to those who will … let’s start with those who cannot.


As always, there are two groups of free agents who cannot be issued the qualifying offer. The first consists of players who have already received a qualifying offer in the past, since a player can get one only once in his career. So regardless of which of these players might or might not have been issued an offer this winter, it doesn’t matter. They can’t.

Previously received an offer:

Carlos Correa, SS, Twins // Kenley Jansen, P, Braves // Brandon Belt, 1B, Giants // Noah Syndergaard, P, Phillies // Justin Verlander, P, Astros // José Abreu, 1B, White Sox // Will Smith, P, Astros // Craig Kimbrel, P, Dodgers // Carlos Santana, 1B/DH, Mariners // Zack Greinke, P, Royals // Nelson Cruz, DH, Nationals

The second group of players who are ineligible are those who didn’t spend the whole season with one team. 

Traded within the 2022 season

José Quintana, P, Cardinals // Trey Mancini, 1B/DH, Astros // Christian Vázquez, C, Astros // Josh Bell, 1B, Padres // Andrew Benintendi, OF, Yankees // Brandon Drury, IF, Padres // Tommy Pham, OF, Red Sox // David Peralta, OF, Rays // Elvis Andrus, SS, White Sox // Joey Gallo, OF, Dodgers // Jackie Bradley Jr., OF, Blue Jays // Taylor Rogers, P, Brewers // many other players who are not candidates to receive a QO

Those all out of the way ... what about the players who will or might get that qualifying offer?


There’s a pretty simple test for these things, if you’re the team, and that’s: “If we extend this offer, is there literally any downside at all? Either the player accepts it, which he won’t, and we get a good player for one more year, or he doesn’t, and we get a free Draft pick.”

There are seven players, the cream of the free agency crop, who fit into this category. They’re all in line for big, long-term contracts, in some cases with dollar amounts of nine figures, and there’s just absolutely no chance they’d take a one-year deal here. So, yes, of course they’re getting an offer. (There had been eight players, but closer Edwin Díaz and the Mets agreed to a five-year contract on Sunday, a source told

  • Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox
  • Jacob deGrom, P, Mets
  • Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees
  • Brandon Nimmo, OF, Mets
  • Carlos Rodón, P, Giants
  • Dansby Swanson, SS, Braves
  • Trea Turner, SS, Dodgers

Of course these seven will get an offer – and of course they’ll turn it down in search of the far greater contract offer they’ll inevitably receive, just as Díaz did.

Prediction: All receive the offer // all decline the offer.


Willson Contreras, C, Cubs

Sometimes, they make it easy on us. The Cubs have already said they’ll give him the offer.

Now, maybe we’re overthinking this. Maybe Contreras, coming off a good season (128 OPS+, 22 home runs), in a world where it’s all but impossible to find offense from catcher, where there’s a big drop between him and the next-best hitting catchers (Mike Zunino, Omar Narváez, Gary Sánchez) doesn’t even consider accepting the offer.

That’s likely what happens. But … it’s not quite the same as the first group, is it? Much of Contreras’s strong 2022 was front-loaded; he hit just .186/.279/.390 after July 1. He’s got a strong arm, yet he’s not highly regarded as a defensive backstop, and teams value that -- just look at how successful pitching teams Houston and Cleveland were willing to forgo offense entirely behind the plate for the sake of a good backstop. The Cubs never seemed interested in extending him themselves.

He’ll still get a nice contract somewhere, because he’s a good-hitting catcher, and it does feel like his time in Chicago has reached the end of the line, so he’ll pass on the offer. It just seems possible if not probable that he’ll end up with a multiyear deal at less per season than the qualifying offer would have offered, and that likelihood could motivate him to earn the most he can in 2023. Something to think about, at least.

Prediction: Receives the offer // declines the offer.


Here’s where we get into some deep considerations, where there’s some pretty big names, but for reasons on-field or off, it’s not absolutely clear which way things will go.

Clayton Kershaw, P, Dodgers

On performance alone, this is obvious. The legendary Kershaw had yet another season that was both excellent (2.28 ERA) and truncated (just 126 1/3 innings due to pelvic joint inflammation and back troubles). That’s basically the expectation from him these days, since he hasn’t thrown 180 innings in a season since 2015, yet has posted a 2.56 ERA in parts of the seven seasons since.

An offer would be a no-brainer, except … all of these reasons were identical last year, and an offer was not extended. Why? Because an offer comes with a deadline and out of respect for Kershaw’s history and health, the Dodgers chose not to place that deadline upon him last year. Will that be different this year, since he’s healthier going into the offseason than he was after 2021? We’re guessing not. They’ll let him move at his own pace.

Prediction: Does not receive the offer.

Chris Bassitt, P, Mets

Bassitt’s first year in New York was a successful one – 181 2/3 innings of 3.42 ball – as he led the Mets in both starts and innings. While the Mets do have two other more likely offer candidates in Nimmo and deGrom, neither is going to accept, making a third offer somewhat riskless. Meanwhile, Taijuan Walker is also a free agent and Carlos Carrasco has a club option, meaning the Mets could potentially lose 80% of their rotation this winter.

Bassitt turns 34 in February, so the Mets would almost certainly prefer a one-year deal than a long-term one. Bassitt, who made $8.6 million this year, actually has a mutual option worth $19 million for 2023, but it seems like he will decline that knowing his "worst-case scenario" is receiving and accepting the QO, which is worth slightly more than $19M. The guess here is that he’d prefer not to be headed back into the market next year nearing his 35th birthday, and prefers to take the best multiyear deal he can likely find right now. Perhaps, even, with the Mets.

Prediction: Receives the offer // declines the offer.

Tyler Anderson, P, Dodgers

What to make of Anderson, who was placed on waivers by the pitching-needy Rockies three years ago, then bounced around with the Giants, Pirates, and Mariners in 2020-’21, then landed with the Dodgers on a one-year deal for 2022 only to then throw 178 2/3 innings of 2.57 ERA ball and make the All-Star team? At 32, it wasn’t exactly a fluke – the team helped him make clear, obvious improvements to his changeup – but there’s not exactly a long track record of success here, either.

It’s difficult to know if what Anderson changed this year would travel to a new team, or if the comfort of the place he found success would be too difficult to leave. It’s even more difficult to think that, after earning just around $16 million in his entire career so far, he’d turn down $19.65 million for one year. The Dodgers, who won’t have Walker Buehler for most or all of 2023, and with the lingering uncertainty over Kershaw’s future, will be happy to offer it.

Prediction: Receives the offer // accepts the offer.

Joc Pederson, OF, Giants

Pederson signed a modest one-year, $6 million deal to go to his hometown team last winter, and it paid off handsomely for the Giants, as Pederson hit 23 homers, put up a 144 OPS+, and made his first All-Star team since 2015. It was his second consecutive winter signing a one-year deal, having done so with the Cubs before 2021, and now he’ll enter the market for a third straight year, headed into his age-31 season.

There’s motivation for both sides to just work something out here. The Giants probably don’t want to more than double his salary. Pederson might want to find some stability for once, and free agency might just offer more one-year deals. “It’s a really cool organization,” Pederson said near the end of the year.

Prediction: They’ll just work out an extension.

Nathan Eovaldi, P, Red Sox

It’s difficult to believe that it’s already been parts of five seasons for Eovaldi in Boston, and to say “they were up and down” hardly begins to describe it; Eovaldi was a key piece of the 2018 World Series champs, but he also had a 5.99 ERA in 2019, but he also finished 4th in the 2021 Cy Young voting, and then he threw only 109 1/3 innings in 2022 due to back and shoulder issues.

There’s a considerable amount of mutual respect between the two sides, and Boston has a thin rotation. This might be a Pederson situation – avoid the offer entirely by working out a short-term extension – but for now, we’ll say they’ll be happy to have him back for one year as opposed to many, and he’ll be happy to get a slight bump in annual pay.

Prediction: Receives the offer // accepts the offer.

Michael Wacha, P, Red Sox

How you view Wacha’s lone year in Boston comes down entirely to how you evaluate pitchers. If you’re old-school, you look at 11-2 with a 3.32 ERA and you think he was a star. If you’re a bit more metrics-oriented, as most front offices are, you see a pitcher who had his strikeout rate drop and his velocity actually decline compared to his 5.05 ERA season in 2021. (Various advanced ERA estimators, like FIP [4.14] or xERA [4.56] or DRA [4.30) all told a similar story of not trusting that 3.32 ERA.)

None of which is to say that he wasn’t a useful pitcher, or can’t be in 2023. But given the above, and the pair of injuries that cost him time, and that he pitched for $7 million this past year, Boston won’t want to more than double his salary, because Wacha would jump at it if they did.

Prediction: Does not receive the offer.

Taijuan Walker, P, Mets

Do the Mets not have enough qualifying offer decisions already? Walker signed a two-year, $20 million deal entering 2020, with a $6 million player option for 2023 that he’ll likely turn down.

At 30, Walker has made it clear he wants some stability. (“I’ve been on short-term deals my last two free agencies. It would be nice to do a longer-term deal and kind of just be set up in one place and know that I’m going to be here for a couple years. Maybe have my family settle in a little bit. That would be nice.”) He might not be able to resist such a nice one-year bump in salary. If he takes it, the Mets have a starter they badly need. If he leaves in search of the multiyear deal they get another pick. They can afford the risk.

Prediction: Receives the offer // declines the offer.

J.D. Martinez, DH, Red Sox

It’s already been reported that Boston will not extend him an offer, and that’s probably right, though since they retain the right to, we’ll still discuss him. The five-year, $110 million contract Martinez signed prior to 2018 was a successful one, as he made four All-Star teams and posted a 135 OPS+ with the Red Sox. But 2022 was the weakest of the four full seasons of the deal, as Martinez, who turned 35 in August, posted his lowest full-season OPS+ since his 2014 breakout, and at one point went six weeks without a home run.

He’s likely the best of the free-agent designated hitters, but 35-year-old DH’s coming off down offensive years don’t make nearly $20 million per year, either.

Prediction: Does not receive the offer.

Andrew Heaney, P, Dodgers

Heaney, coming off a disastrous 2021, signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers with the promise that they could “fix him,” and they did, in that he had a 3.10 ERA and struck out nearly 14 batters per nine. But due to injuries, he threw only 72 2/3 innings, and the Dodgers won’t double his salary from the $8.5 million he just made for that. They’ll just try to find the next Heaney.

Prediction: Does not receive the offer.

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Yankees

Rizzo signed a two-year, $32 million deal with the Yankees before 2021 and has the ability to opt out of the final year. At 33, he’s likely to do that in search of what might be his final multiyear deal. On the surface, he had a very good year (32 homers, a 131 OPS+), though it was very front-loaded – 22 of the 32 homers came in the first half. He’s a good fit not only in New York but in Yankee Stadium, given his swing, and he’s exactly the type of good-not-elite older player who gets hurt in free agency if a qualifying offer is attached. This seems like a reasonable situation to avoid it entirely and extend him another year or two.

Prediction: They’ll work out an extension.

Jameson Taillon, P, Yankees

Taillon, a first-time free agent, was a relatively reliable piece of the Yankees rotation over his two years in New York, tossing 321 2/3 innings of 4.08 ERA ball. It’s unlikely they’d want to triple his $5.8 million salary to bring him back, though they could certainly negotiate a return on a different scale.

Prediction: Does not receive the offer.

Mitch Haniger, OF, Mariners

The oft-injured Haniger was healthy in 2021 and he was fantastic, hitting 39 homers and getting into 157 games. It wasn’t quite the same in 2022, missing months with a serious ankle injury. Given that he’s played in 100 games just twice, and that he’ll turn 32 in December, and that the $19.65 million offer would more than double the $7.75 million he just made, this would seem like a no-brainer “no.” But there does seem to be a lot of smoke about the desire of both sides to continue their relationship, and a qualifying offer is one way to do that.

That said, for nearly $20 million next year, Seattle’s going to want more certainty. A return, if it happens, sounds a lot more like a two- or three-year deal at a lower average value.

Prediction: They’ll work out an extension.

We, obviously, have not touched on every single free agent here, but between veterans who had down or injured years (Sean Manaea, Mike Clevinger, Yuli Gurriel, Mike Zunino, Omar Narváez, Brandon Belt, Adam Frazier, Kyle Gibson, etc.) or players coming off good years at low enough salaries where this would be a massive raise (Ross Stripling, Martín Pérez, José Iglesias, Jurickson Profar, Chris Martin, Rafael Montero, etc.) it does seem like we’ve highlighted all the possibilities.

All of which leaves us with this, in terms of guaranteed-to-be-right predictions.

Twelve players will get an offer. (Bogaerts, deGrom, Judge, Nimmo, Rodón, Swanson, Turner, Contreras, Anderson, Eovaldi, Bassitt, Walker).

Two players will accept that offer (Anderson, Eovaldi).