It has long been evident that this year’s free agent market would include some notably youthful corner outfielders. Our just-released top 50 list reveals MLBTR’s collective thinking on the subject, though we certainly discussed a wide range of possibilities with respect to each of these players. And there’s often good reason to prefer a lower-cost investment, even if it comes with less upside or greater risk.
As it turned out, Nicholas Castellanos took the highest spot on the board after a monster run down the stretch with the Cubs. I’m personally a bit less bullish than our prediction indicates. While Castellanos is accomplished and still youthful, I’m not sure there’s enough bat to carry his still-rough glove in a market environment that has not treated less-than-elite hitters kindly. But perhaps it’s best to put more money down if it means getting the most offensive bang available in this player group.
Of course, you might take issue with my personal preference for the market position of Marcell Ozuna. He has been outperformed at the plate by Castellanos, though Ozuna’s Statcast numbers have jumped off the page. Ozuna is a better defender but is hardly perfect in that area. He’ll also be dragging a qualifying offer onto the open market.
There’s a case to be made that there’s much more potential value to be had in Avisail Garcia, who is just as young as those players and just turned in a strong season. He still has a highly appealing toolset — including excellent speed, if you can believe it — and might yet have some ceiling. Perhaps he’s an under-the-radar target that some teams will be eyeing.
Are we missing anyone in this group? Oh, right, Yasiel Puig. He scuffled early last year but was a useful player on the field. He has at times been an excellent performer and still seems to have the ability to provide ample production. There may be some headaches, but Puig is also undeniably a charismatic presence that might just help jolt a quiet franchise. He seemed to get along well enough with the Reds and Indians; there were fireworks during 2019, but they weren’t directed at other members of his organizations.
Regardless of which player turned in the best 2019 showing or possesses the most pure talent, it’s possible to imagine any of these four pacing the group in 2020 and beyond. Who do you think offers the most intriguing opportunity on this winter’s market?
(Poll link for app users; response order randomized.)