Anthony Rizzo returns to Yankees, Tyler Anderson a steal for Angels

Baseball’s hot stove is on steam. The first real wave of free agent transfers hit Tuesday as the deadline passed for players who made a qualifying offer to accept or decline those deals.

This is a bit of a procedural move, one where most of the big names turn down one-year deals worth $19.65 million and go on the open market. From there, any team that signs a player who declined these offers will sacrifice a draft pick for it, and the teams that made the offers will get a pick. A few players did accept itthough, and two players who didn’t take them found multi-year matches.

Let’s break down all the MLB free player deals and ask ourselves if they made sense for the team and the player.

Veteran first baseman Anthony Rizzo reportedly remains with the Yankees on a two-year contract with a club option for 2025. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Veteran first baseman Anthony Rizzo reportedly remains with the Yankees on a two-year contract with a club option for 2025. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

There was reportedly a race between the powers of the American League – the Houston Astros and the Yankees – for Rizzo’s services. With a qualifying one-year offer in hand, Rizzo stayed at his new home in the Bronx on a multi-year deal. It’s $17 million a year, with a third-year option with a $6 million guaranteed buyout.

The regular left-handed first baseman is no longer an MVP mainstay as he was in his Chicago Cubs heyday, but his appeal is nevertheless evident for contending clubs. He is playoff tested, still powerful enough and always capable of throwing a professional bat. He and Jose Abreu fill the same general niche in the free agent market, and the Yankees stuck with the veteran first baseman they know.

Does it make sense for the Yankees? Yes, Rizzo’s experience and left-handed fly-ball swing are a perfect fit for the Bronx.

Does it make sense to Rizzo? Yes. He still has enough left to contribute for championship-chasing teams, and landing a multi-year deal is a win.

Los Angeles Angels signs starting pitcher Tyler Anderson to a three-year, $39 million deal

After breaking up with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2022, left-handed changeup artist Tyler Anderson jumped on a three-year offer from the Angels — close in geography and… nowhere close in terms of combat or pitching development knowledge.

After seeing pop-up relievers – Robert Suarez and Rafael Montero – sign for similar or greater amounts, it is surprising that a starter like Anderson, who has had an excellent season with a 2.57 ERA, signed so quickly for a relatively modest amount.

The Dodgers offered Anderson a qualifying offer, which could have given him the chance to repeat his progress with a one-year deal worth $19.65 million. Instead, he will have to try and transfer the excellence over the highway with a club that has a much, much poorer record of helping pitchers succeed.

Does it make sense to the angels? A big yes here.

Anderson was my favorite middle class starting pitcher to bet on this winter’s free agent class. What he did with the Dodgers smacked of a real, lasting breakout. It may not be 2.57 ERA right, but his underlying numbers showed a pitcher whose cutter and substitution allowed him to attack in the zone, limit walks, and still avoid hard contact. The Angels and general manager Perry Minasian will have to hope they can help Anderson hold onto his winnings, but I suspect the $13 million fee for Anderson by season’s end will be a serious bargain.

Does it make sense to Anderson? Could be. Getting three years is great, but I’m skeptical that he couldn’t have gotten the same with even more guaranteed money when bolder names like Chris Bassitt and Nathan Eovaldi came off the board. There’s also the issue of maintaining his Dodgers’ success. Hopefully he’s found himself and can keep up with the changes, but the Angels’ recent history doesn’t inspire confidence as he hits a speed bump.

San Francisco Giants re-signs outfielder Joc Pederson to 1-year, $19.65 million qualifying offer

The greatest platoon player in baseball returns to the Giants. His first year in the Bay Area turned out to be a career year as Gabe Kapler and company put him in a good position to succeed. But this is not simply a matter of facing fewer left-handers. He increased his average run-out speed and batting rate to the best of his career and achieved a .274/.353/.521 slash, 44% better than an average league hitter on the park-adjusted wRC+ statistic.

Does it make sense for the Giants? Yes. The Giants’ roster is in flux, but they could use a bat as powerful as Pederson’s in their sprawling park. Should you commit to just one season? Even better.

Does it make sense to Pederson? He probably wouldn’t have the $19.65 million annual value on the open market, so if he’s comfortable in San Francisco and believes he can replicate the increased production, this could work out well for him. Pederson will be just 30 on opening day.

Texas Rangers re-signs starting pitcher Martin Perez to 1-year, $19.65 million qualifying offer

The veteran left-handed starter has found a home in Texas. The definition of a meh back-end starter for most of his career, Perez returned to Texas after three seasons and posted a career-best year, with a 2.89 ERA in 32 starts. Everyone was happy!

So glad that in the midst of trying to return to contention, the Rangers declined to deal with him at deadline and then gave him the qualifying offer to see if he would try to turn it back. Answer: He does.

Does it make sense for the Rangers? I can’t pretend to understand Perez’s breakout year. He missed more barrels in 2022, but most of his numbers point to a decline to a more average future. I wouldn’t have made Perez a $19.65 million offer based purely on forecasts. That said, this is one case where the gap between public information and the team’s knowledge of Perez could be the whole story. Texas hasn’t made a dime, so if the Rangers like Perez in their rotation and clubhouse and aren’t going to skimp on other reinforcements, it’s great to keep him around.

Does it make sense to Perez? Yes. Staying where he’s had success is perfectly reasonable, and there’s no way he could have matched that annual salary on the open market.

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