Analyzing every MLB free agent signing: Anthony Rizzo returns to Yankees, Tyler Anderson a steal for Angels

Baseball’s hot stove is firing up. The first real flurry of free agent moves hit Tuesday as the deadline passed for players offered a qualifying offer to accept or decline those deals.

This is a bit of a procedural move, one that sees most of the big names decline one-year deals worth $19.65 million and hit the open market. From there, any team signing a player who declined these offers will sacrifice a draft pick to do so, and the teams that made the offers will stand to gain a pick. A couple players did accept, though, and two players who didn’t take them found multiyear agreements.

Let’s break down all the MLB free agent deals, asking whether they made sense for the team and the player.

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

New York Yankees re-sign first baseman Anthony Rizzo to 2-year, $40 million deal with club option for 2025

There was reportedly a race between American League powers — the Houston Astros and the Yankees — for Rizzo’s services. With a one-year qualifying offer in hand, Rizzo stayed in his newfound home in the Bronx on a multiyear deal. It’s $17 million per year, with an option for the third year that comes with a guaranteed $6 million buyout.

The steady left-handed first baseman is no longer an MVP ballot mainstay as he was in his Chicago Cubs heyday, but his appeal is nonetheless apparent for contending clubs. He’s playoff-tested, still plenty powerful and always capable of providing a professional at-bat. He and Jose Abreu fill the same general niche on 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 for Rizzo? Yes. He’s got plenty left to contribute for teams chasing championships, and securing a multiyear deal is a win.

Los Angeles Angels sign starting pitcher Tyler Anderson to 3-year, $39 million deal

After breaking out with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2022, left-handed changeup artist Tyler Anderson leapt at a three-year offer from the Angels — nearby in geography and … not anywhere close in terms of contention or pitching development know-how.

After seeing pop-up relievers — Robert Suarez and Rafael Monterosign for similar or greater sums, it’s surprising a starter like Anderson, coming off an outstanding season with a 2.57 ERA, signed so quickly for a relatively modest amount.

The Dodgers tendered Anderson a qualifying offer, which could have given him a chance to replicate his strides forward on a one-year deal worth $19.65 million. Instead, he will have to try to port the excellence down the freeway with a club that has a much, much worse track record of helping pitchers succeed.

Does it make sense for the Angels? A big yes here.

Anderson was my favorite mid-tier starting pitcher to bet on in this winter’s free agent class. What he did with the Dodgers smacked of a real, sustainable breakout. It may not be 2.57 ERA good, but his underlying numbers showed a pitcher whose cutter and changeup allowed him to attack in the zone, limiting walks while still avoiding hard contact. The Angels and general manager Perry Minasian will have to hope they can help Anderson sustain his gains, but I suspect the $13 million rate for Anderson will be a serious bargain by offseason’s end.

Does it make sense for Anderson? Maybe. Getting three years is great, but I’m skeptical he couldn’t have gotten the same with even more guaranteed money once bolder names like Chris Bassitt and Nathan Eovaldi came off the board. There’s also the matter of sustaining his Dodgers success. Hopefully he found himself and can maintain the changes, but the Angels’ recent history doesn’t inspire confidence if he hits a speed bump.

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

The best platoon player in baseball is returning to the Giants. His first year in the Bay Area produced a career year as Gabe Kapler and company put him in a good position to succeed. But this isn’t a simple matter of facing fewer lefties. He boosted his average exit velocity and hard-hit rate to career-best levels, and turned in a .274/.353/.521 slash line, 44% better than a league average hitter per the park-adjusted wRC+ metric.

Does it make sense for the Giants? Yep. The Giants’ roster is in flux, but they could use a bat that packs as much punch as Pederson’s in their expansive park. Having to commit to only one season? Even better.

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

Texas Rangers re-sign starting pitcher Martin Perez on 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 away and posted a career-best year, with a 2.89 ERA in 32 starts. Everyone was happy!

So happy the Rangers, amid an attempt at returning to contention, declined to deal him at the deadline and then gave him the qualifying offer to see if he wants to try to run it back. Answer: He does.

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

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