Last Thursday, the Red Sox extended qualifying offers to right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and shortstop Xander Bogaerts. They learned on Tuesday that both free agents rejected the one-year, $19.65 million deal to return to Boston for the 2023 season.
Bogaerts’ decision is hardly a surprising one. The 30-year-old infielder has earned $20 million in each of the last three seasons and would therefore be taking a pay cut if he were to accept the qualifying offer after opting out of his contract last week. He is instead expected to receive a long-term deal that exceeds $30 million in average annual value at some point this winter.
Knowing that he was going to reject it, the Red Sox still issued Bogaerts a qualifying offer anyway. If the Boras Corp. client signs elsewhere in free agency, Boston would receive a compensatory pick following the fourth round of next year’s draft.
The same applies to Eovaldi, who could have gone either way with his decision. A $19.65 million salary in 2023 would have represented a 15.6 percent raise from the $17 million the 32-year-old hurler earned in 2022.
Eovaldi posted a 3.87 ERA and 4.30 FIP with 103 strikeouts to 20 walks in 20 starts (109 1/3 innings) for the Red Sox this past season. He was sidelined from June 9-July 15 with low back inflammation and from August 19-September 29 with right shoulder inflammation, which had led to diminished fastball velocity.
Despite those concerns, Eovaldi — who turns 33 in February — elected to hit the open market as opposed to taking the qualifying offer. The ACES client has said in the past that he enjoys pitching for the Red Sox and that his family has loved their time in Boston. The feeling appears to be mutual.
On Sunday, WEEI’s Rob Bradford reported that the Red Sox had made Eovaldi a multi-year contract offer. The fact that Eovaldi is now attached to draft pick compensation may lessen his market, making a reunion between the two sides all the more likely.
With that being said, though, it remains to be seen how close the Red Sox and Eovaldi are to a potential agreement. Starting pitching is always a hot commodity, and another team could jump on a veteran starter like Eovaldi if given the chance to do so.
Fourteen players in total were extended qualifying offers by their respective clubs last week. Of those 14, only Giants outfielder Joc Pederson and Rangers left-hander Martin Perez accepted it.
Besides Bogaerts and Eovaldi, the other 10 players who rejected the qualifying offer were the Dodgers’ Tyler Anderson and Trea Turner, the Mets’ Chris Bassitt, Jacob deGrom, and Brandon Nimmo, the Cubs’ Wilson Contreras, the Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo, the Giants’ Carlos Rodon, and the Braves’ Dansby Swanson.
It has since been reported that Anderson has agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract with the Angels while Rizzo has agreed to return to the Bronx on a two-year deal that comes with $40 million in guaranteed money.
If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox were to sign a qualified free agent (outside of Bogaerts and Eovaldi) this winter, they would be forced to forfeit their second- and fifth-highest selections in the 2023 draft. Additionally, they would see their international signing bonus pool be reduced by $1 million after exceeding the $230 million competitive balance tax threshold this year.
(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)