Qualifying Offer Set At $19.65MM For 2022-23 Offseason

This year’s qualifying offer will be set at $19.65MM, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. This will set a new record for the QO, which generally trends upward from year to year. The previous high was $18.9MM heading int0 the 2020-21 offseason, and the QO then dropped last winter down to $18.4MM.

The qualifying offer changes on an annual basis because it is an average of the salaries of the 125 highest-paid players in baseball. Naturally, as salaries increase with inflation and increased revenue in the game, the qualifying offer also goes up. Last year’s decline was likely a reflection of the pandemic (i.e. canceled games and diminished attendance led to a decrease in expenditures from some clubs) bu it seems that the spending environment has broadly rebounded. A look at the QO totals since its creation….

  • 2012-13: $13.3MM
  • 2013-14: $14.4MM
  • 2014-15: $15.3MM
  • 2015-16: $15.8MM
  • 2016-17: $17.2MM
  • 2017-18: $17.4MM
  • 2018-19: $17.9MM
  • 2019-20: $17.8MM
  • 2020-21: $18.9MM
  • 2021-22: $18.4MM
  • 2022-23: $19.65MM

It wasn’t clear whether or not the qualifying offer system would remain in place this winter, as the league offered to scrap the QO if the MLB Players Association agreed to replace the current international signing system with a draft for international players. This issue lingered even beyond the settlement of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement back in March, but when the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement on an int’l draft in July, that ensured the qualifying offer will continue through at least the length of the CBA (through the 2026 season).

The QO has always been an interesting subplot of the free agency, if not necessarily a popular one for players and agents who feel the qualifying offer can act as a limitation on a player’s market. The qualifying offer is a one-year, contract that any team can issue to any free agent who hasn’t already received a QO in the past. If the player accepts, he returns to his team on that $19.65 payday — if he rejects, the team will receive draft pick compensation if the player signs elsewhere, and the player’s new club will also have to give up at least one pick as a penalty for the signing.

Top free agents typically reject the qualifying offer, since they are likelier to land long-term contracts and their suitors usually aren’t bothered too much at the idea of paying an extra QO penalty to sign these stars. However, some players have accepted the QO, opting to take the one-year contract as something of a pillow contract if the player is coming off a bit of a down year production-wise, or perhaps an injury-shortened season. Teams also must make a strategic call about whether or not to issue a QO to some free agents, as clubs may not want to be on the hook for $19.65MM to a particular player (free agents who accept a QO cannot be traded until June), but clubs are also keen to add extra draft picks whenever possible.

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