Martin Perez Leaning Toward Accepting Qualifying Offer

Players have until tomorrow afternoon to make decisions on their one-year, $19.65MM qualifying offers, and as things currently stand, Martin Perez is “likely” to accept his offer, tweets Jon Morosi of Morosi hedges by suggesting that a late change in Perez’s market could prompt him to change his thinking, but it’s still of some note to see where things stand for Perez at present, after several days of fielding interest from other teams.

Perez, 32 in April, returned to the Rangers on a one-year, $4MM contract this season and quickly became one of baseball’s best bargains. The former top prospect finally delivered the type of season the Rangers envisioned during his minor league days, finishing tenth in the Majors with 196 1/3 innings and posting a 2.89 ERA that ranked 14th in the Majors. Perez’s success was due in no small part to a career-high 77% strand rate and to a level of home-run prevention (0.50 HR/9) he hasn’t shown since an injury-shortened 2015 season. However, the Rangers saw enough to make that weighty one-year offer, ostensibly comfortable with the idea that even in the event of some regression, Perez can be a serviceable innings eater in an otherwise perilously thin rotation mix.

Accepting the one-year offer wouldn’t necessarily preclude an eventual multi-year deal with the Rangers. While Perez would be locked in at $19.65MM for the 2023 season (and ineligible to be traded, without his consent, prior to June 15), that agreement could be torn up in favor of a new multi-year extension. The two parties would be free to continue negotiating on a possible multi-year pact, and Texas has reportedly already put forth a two-year offer to Perez — presumably at a notably lighter annual value than the $19.65MM rate of the QO.

From a payroll vantage point, even if that $19.65MM salary is something of an “overpay” for Perez, the Rangers likely don’t mind. Roster Resource’s Jason Martinez projects them for a payroll just shy of $122MM at the moment, so Perez would take them to about $141.5MM. Texas has run its payroll as high as $174MM, back in 2017, and that was before they had a brand new ballpark from which to draw revenue. GM Chris Young has said that payroll is expected to rise over its 2022 levels, when the Rangers’ $142MM Opening Day payroll is right in the vicinity where they’d be in the event of Perez accepting the QO.

If he does indeed accept, Perez would join Jon Gray, Dane Dunning and newly acquired Jake Odorizzi as options in the rotation. Texas is widely expected to pursue high-end starting pitching in free agency, having already been linked to the likes of Jacob deGrom, Carlos Rodon and NPB star Kodai Senga, who is available (sans posting fee) as a true international free agent this winter.

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