Multiple contract-year hitters raked in the month of June. Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Beltran, Kendrys Morales, Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos, Michael Saunders, Luis Valbuena, Mark Trumbo, and Justin Turner came up big, and many more have showed well since the most recent installment of our Free Agent Power Rankings back on June 2. The starting pitching side was much lighter, with nice runs from Bud Norris and Doug Fister.
While no extensions were signed, there was still plenty of movement in the Power Rankings based on June events. Below, I’ve ranked the 2016-17 free agents by earning power. You can view the full list of free agents here.
1. Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes remains on pace for his first 40 home run season, which should compel him to opt out of the remaining two years and $47.5MM on his contract with the Mets shortly after his 31st birthday in October. Cespedes will start in the outfield for the NL All-Star team, and he’s currently the only free agent I project to land a six-year deal well in excess of $100MM.
2. Jose Bautista. Bautista, 36 in October, suffered a toe injury in mid-June and won’t return until after the All-Star break. A four-year deal still seems plausible, with precedents such as Victor Martinez and Ben Zobrist. Still, the fourth year is not a lock for Bautista, who is on track for his worst season since becoming a full-time player with the Blue Jays.
3. Edwin Encarnacion. Bautista’s teammate had a much better month. Encarnacion smashed 11 home runs in June and has been named to the AL All-Star team. As he’s shown with mammoth months in years past, EE can go on a hot streak with the best of them. His free agent stock is suppressed for two reasons: he’ll turn 34 in January, and he’s probably limited to the American League as a primary designated hitter. Nonetheless, his contract projection is starting to approach that of Bautista: four years at a total of $80MM or more.
4. Josh Reddick. Reddick returned to Oakland’s lineup on June 28th after missing over a month with a fractured thumb. On June 26th, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the A’s and Reddick “appear to be far apart” on a contract extension, and there are no indications of recent progress. Slusser reported a few days later that the Royals have interest in trading for Reddick, and Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com has also linked the Giants to the right fielder. Five days ago, MLBTR’s Jeff Todd ranked Reddick as the No. 3 trade candidate in the game. So Reddick may be on the move this month, which could remove a qualifying offer from the equation this winter. While I have projected Reddick for a five-year deal previously, a safer call might be four years.
5. Kenley Jansen. Jansen’s excellence continues for the Dodgers, and he’s been awarded with his first career All-Star nod. The 28-year-old closer from Curaçao will look to shatter Jonathan Papelbon’s record contract for a reliever. Papelbon signed a four-year, $50MM deal in November 2011, so we’re definitely due for a new precedent five years later. Jansen’s ceiling could be around five years and $70MM.
6. Ian Desmond. I wasn’t prepared to award Desmond a spot in our top ten last month, and he proceeded to put up monster numbers in June. Desmond is the current wins above replacement leader among projected free agents, at 3.9. He’s in the midst of the best offensive season of his career and has proven to be above average in both left and center field defensively for the Rangers. It’s been an extremely successful makeover for the former Nationals shortstop, who made the All-Star team for the second time in his career. Desmond, who turns 31 in September, seems a good bet for a four-year deal north of $60MM.
7. Aroldis Chapman. Chapman has been dominant in his 22 innings for the Yankees, dropping his walk rate well below his career norm in the small sample. He ranked seventh on Jeff Todd’s trade candidate list last week. The Yankees are below .500 and four games out in the Wild Card standings, and they have the rest of the month to decide whether to sell. Chapman currently sits below Jansen in terms of free-agent earning power because of his domestic violence incident last year.
8. Wilson Ramos. Ramos’ breakout season continued with a huge month of June, and he makes this list for the first time. The 28-year-old Nationals catcher, who is hitting .335/.390/.554, made the All-Star team for the first time in his career. A four-year deal is starting to look possible for Ramos, who will be a young free agent. Even after Francisco Cervelli’s extension with the Pirates, this free agent class offers solid options at catcher with Ramos and fellow All-Star Matt Wieters.
9. Dexter Fowler. Fowler suffered a hamstring injury on June 18th and had been scuffling prior to that. He was voted onto the NL All-Star team, one of seven Cubs to make the roster. Fowler is hopeful he’ll be able to participate in the All-Star game next Tuesday. Looking at his free agent stock, two strong months won’t be enough for Fowler to lock in a four-year deal. A strong, healthy finish will be key, given Fowler’s injury history prior to 2015.
10. Mark Trumbo. We had many candidates for this spot, but Trumbo gets the nod for the second consecutive month. The 30-year-old right fielder/first baseman leads the American League with 24 home runs and has been named to his second career All-Star team. Barring injury, Trumbo should fly past his career high of 34 home runs, set in 2013 with the Angels. While he’s a one-dimensional player, a 40 home run season would be difficult to ignore in free agency.
Four players came close to landing a spot within the top ten: Matt Wieters, Michael Saunders, Carlos Gomez, and Justin Turner. All of them played well in June, and Gomez had his best month in a long time. A difficult month pushed the Mets’ Neil Walker off our list, while Rich Hill lost his spot due to a groin injury.