In our last MLBTR poll, over 38.6% of MLBTR readers surveyed felt that Alex Gordon would be the next to sign out of a group consisting of the top five players left on MLBTR’s list of this offseason’s Top 50 Free Agents. Fast-forward a week and, unsurprisingly, all five players (Gordon, Justin Upton, Chris Davis, Yoenis Cespedes and Ian Desmond) are all still on the board.
Earlier today, Charlie Wilmoth examined the situations surrounding not just those five, but also the next five remaining from MLBTR’s original list — Wei-Yin Chen, Kenta Maeda, Dexter Fowler, Scott Kazmir and Ian Kennedy. These five may not carry the high price tags of the top-rated quintet, so it’s possible any of them could come off the board before Gordon and company. (Then again, it wouldn’t shock me if Chen or Maeda both sign for more than Desmond given how badly Desmond struggled in 2015. In fact, with the other top free agent pitchers all signed, it’s possible Chen or Maeda could even best Gordon’s eventual contract.)
Also, given the intertwined free agent market, some of the big names may need to be signed before attention can be turned to the next five names. As Charlie noted, for instance, Fowler’s market may not come into focus until the top-tier outfielders find new homes. Conversely, Fowler offers a different skillset than Upton, Cespedes or Gordon, so it’s also possible he could be signed before any of them.
The qualifying offer also looms large in this tier of free agents. Chen, Fowler and Kennedy all rejected the QO, so any new team that signs them will have to give up a draft pick as compensation. Maeda, obviously, doesn’t have the qualifying offer to worry about coming from Japan, though he has two more obstacles — the extra $20MM posting fee his MLB team will have to pay to the Hiroshima Carp, and the simple fact that Maeda is the most unknown quantity in Major League play. Kazmir doesn’t have a qualifying offer attached, yet that actually may be what’s holding up his signing since multiple teams are showing interest; Kazmir reportedly has several three-year offers in hand but he may be holding out for a team that gives him that guaranteed fourth year.
With these factors in mind, which of the “next five” do you think will be the first to sign a contract? (MLBTR app users can weigh in here)