Of the top 10 entries on MLBTR’s Top 50 Free Agents list, half are already off the market. David Price, Jason Heyward, Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmermann and Johnny Cueto have all signed new contracts, though there’s obviously still lots of top-tier talent still available, particularly on the position player side. Indeed, the five remaining top-10 players are all everyday players — three left fielders, a shortstop and a first baseman. There’s also been a notable lack of clarity about each player’s market (compounded by the fact that several of the same teams are interested in these same names), leaving some question about exactly who might come off the board next. Here are the candidates, in the order of their ranking on MLBTR’s list…
Justin Upton: There have been surprisingly few solid rumors about Upton’s market, as the Angels and Orioles have both at least spoken with Upton’s representatives but there’s been little evidence of a serious pursuit. He carries a high projected price tag (MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes thinks Upton will get a seven-year, $147MM deal) and he’ll cost his new team a draft pick as qualifying offer compensation, though Upton’s main problem could simply be the glut of other quality outfielders on the free agent and trade markets. That said, it’s hard to believe Upton won’t eventually wind up with a lucrative deal given the number of potential suitors that could use a big outfield bat.
Chris Davis: The Orioles, Davis’ former team, made a $150MM offer to the slugger that has since been taken off the table. The Cardinals, Blue Jays and Red Sox have been speculatively linked to Davis but Baltimore is the only club known to be firmly pursuing him. If Davis and agent Scott Boras are really looking for an eight-year, $200MM offer, however, it’s hard to see any team taking the plunge at that price, despite Boras’ track record of scoring higher-than-expected contracts for his clients.
Yoenis Cespedes: Upton and Cespedes share many of the same issues clouding their market, though Cespedes is two years older but can be signed without draft pick compensation. (Cespedes, in fact, is the only player of these five who doesn’t have the qualifying offer hanging over his free agency.) The Orioles and Angels have also been lightly linked to Cespedes, with the Tigers, Royals and Giants also being involved. The White Sox have also been mentioned as a possible suitor for Cespedes or Upton, as they have a left field vacancy.
Alex Gordon: Though Gordon is four and two years older, respectively, than Upton and Cespedes, he’s been getting a lot more interest from a variety of teams — the Cardinals, Astros, Royals, Giants, Angels, Red Sox, Cubs, Orioles and Tigers have all been linked to Gordon at one time or another this winter. At least a few of those teams, however, can probably be eliminated from contention due to other moves; the Cubs signed Heyward and Colby Rasmus accepted Houston’s qualifying offer, for instance. Dierkes projected a five-year, $105MM deal for Gordon, so it’s not surprising that teams are exploring their options before deciding to give up a draft pick and give a nine-figure deal to a 32-year-old.
Ian Desmond: Whereas the other four names on this list had good-to-excellent walk years, Desmond headed into free agency burdened by a poor 2015 season (.233/.290/.384 in 641 PA, 83 wRC+, -3.7 UZR/150). It’s made for a slow market for Desmond, as teams with shortstop needs like the Padres and Mets have shown only marginal interest. What may help Desmond, however, is that he may not be limited to shortstop-needy teams, as his agents have been pushing him as a multi-position player capable of handling the outfield. The strategy seems to be working to some extent, as multiple teams are considering Desmond not just at short or the outfield but also at second and third.
With all these factors in mind, who will be the next member of MLBTR’s Top 10 to sign a new contract? (MLBTR app users can weigh in here)
Davis. He resigns with the O’s.
My guess is Blue Jays for the steal.
Blue Jays need offense?
I agree. He won’t be a Jay. They don’t have the money but could you imagine if they did sign him. That works be crazy.
I agree. He won’t be a Jay. They don’t have the money and if they did they better be spending it on the bullpen. However imagine if they did sign him. That would be crazy.
A lot cheaper than 150mil maybe Boris will understand he ain’t the Baseball God Hope Davis gets a 2 yr 70 mil just for giggles
Chen isn’t considered a top 10 FA? I disagree with that MLBTR decision.
I think Gordon of this group is the easy pick, Desmond/Upton’s market will wait a while. Gordon has a nice combination of skills and the fact that he is a bit older and he won’t carry a big long term deal will probably let his market playout quicker than Cespedes/Upton, Davis will either take Orioles offer soon or wait a long time. Desmond won’t sign for a month.
I agree with you. I definitely think that Cespedes and Davis will take their sweet time in making a decision. Davis, especially, could last long into the offseason in my opinion.
Blue Jays don’t need Davis. They already have a great offense. They need pitching, especially in the bullpen. They need another lefty in the pen & maybe another late inning guy. They could also maybe use another starter because I’m not sold on Hutchinson or Chavez as the 5th starter.
I disagree Davis left hand bat with that team would be great but 150 million from the BJays or the O’s shouldn’t pay more than 130 /6 year deal and give the team a opt out in year 5
I have no idea where Ian Desmond ends up. The Padres are the common answer but I’m not sure what their plan is.
Maybe the Mariners? Are they sold on Ketel Marte at SS?
I think Desmond signs a 1 year deal honestly. He seems to want a lot and he’s not gonna get it with the year he had.
I was expecting a pillow deal after that horrid season for Desmond….so when I saw the projected I was shocked. I guess the position is thin, so someone might overpay for the chance he bounces back. I just don’t see how spending $80-$90m on a guy who looked lost most of the season.
Desmond turned down the deal from the nationals which was over 100 mill, and he’s not going to get that now on the open market. Who knows if davis ends up back with the o’s , he should of taken the deal they offered, The angels need to make a move for one of the big three outfielders left, I don’t care if arte said their not going over the luxury tax but it would be well worth it.
Desmond should have taken nats money when they offered it. N cant see anyone else in on davis at that level.
Desmond really shot himself in the foot not extending
I would take Kendrick over Desmond any day of the week and twice on Sunday. I think Kendrick will be the Angels next signing then trade for a left fielder.
Dodgers should sign both Davis and Desmond and finally ship Eitheir and one of the OFs to get some young pitching from Rays or Twins
You already have A-Gon and Seager. Plus I think their new front office is trying to stay away from guys like them.
Next big move will be in 2 parts:
Part (a) San Franscio Giants sign SP Mike Leake, to further bolster the rotation.
Part (b) San Francisco Giants “Trade” Jake Peavy to the New York Yankees for Brett Gardner.
The above has a added benefit of the Los Angeles Dodgers looking like fools once again.
I guess it’s too much to ask isn’t it. I am pleasantly surprised that my Cueto wish and prediction came true after the Shark signing!
I think SF Giants will probably get either David Murphy or Austin Jackson. Whichever if at all we get, is preferable to Blanco in my opinion. It also help Parker to be in the team and get some playing time. Rather have him getting at bats than a streaky hitter like Upton, Cespedes or Davis. Granted when they streak you need them in you fantasy team; but a fantasy team never won a World Series.
It would take alotttt more than peavy to get gardner…
I know, probably Arroyo, Crick, and Strickland alongside Peavy would be close to getting Gardner.
Personally I think I would be happy with Austin Jackson
The Yankees 100% do not want Peavy. They’re making this whole movement towards younger players and less salary and this would go completely against it. Also Gardner demands a lot of talent in return otherwise he would have been traded by now
Probably a combination of Arroyo, Susac, Crick et al including Peavy would land Gardener.
I would be personally happy with Austin Jackson .320 OBP I think, with 10HR-90R-40RBI-20SB. I think that would be a decent addition.
Mets come in and take Justin Upton in a surprise for 6-180
Cespedes is a flat-out winner. Aside from the Tigers’ disappointing year, both the Mets and the A’s launched into relevance with his acquisition. He’s the best of the remaining free-agents.
Except the question was who would SIGN FIRST, not who is the best.
How often does this offseason get this close to January with so many big free agents on the board? And with no foreseeable conclusion?
Usually there are a few big guys who wait until the new year but this one has been interesting. I can’t remember a time when the pitching market was so in demand and the hitting market is still doing nothing.
I said Gordon will sign next. Just seems like things are falling into place for that to happen. It is strange that so many high profile free agents are lingering out there. We might see a spate of signings after Jan 1 though, prices might start reducing at that point too…including Chris Davis.
I like the Tigers position. There is no urgency to do anything. They could just roll with what they have. However, if one of the corner OF guys slips through the cracks like Nelson Cruz did a couple of years ago for the Orioles, Tigers can get Ilitch to sign a check and get value.
For the OF you have the current retail price of approx. $21-23MM per year for 7(Upton),6(Cespedes) and 5(Gordon)years. I believe Gordon will get his asking price or stay in KC. Only other discount my guess is he will take is to play close to home in St Louis. Can’t see him taking a discount to play in Detroit.
Upton is the youngest and most likely to get at least 6 years.To have him fall through the cracks is to take a 4 year deal and re-enter at 32. Still will demand the $$$ and is not 2-3 times better than what the Tigers currently have now.
I read where Boston offered a 5/$80MM deal to Cespedes before he changed agents.
Cespedes is the best of the 2 when adding both defense and offense. He would be worth the risk if Detroit could get a 5/$85-90MM deal signed, but I would rather they lock up J.D. for that now. Can’t see them having 2 new 5-6 year deals at $18-20MM per and J.D. is younger and on the upswing. Young power bats are too valuable to let go.
Whitesox have a void to fill in LF? Pretty sure Melky Cabrera has it locked down..