At least in terms of free-agent signings, this is the fastest-paced offseason Major League Baseball has seen over the past couple years. Of the 50 players MLBTR ranked as the premier free agents entering the winter, more than half (26) have already left the board in the month-plus since the market opened. That includes the handful of elite free agents (Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg and Zack Wheeler), the latest $100MM-plus players in baseball. But now that they’re among the players who have found homes, who are the most appealing performers without deals? Let’s reorder the top 10 based on the rankings MLBTR put together coming into the offseason and see where they stand…
5. Josh Donaldson, 3B: With Rendon no longer available, Donaldson has taken over as hands down the most effective hitter on the market. The former Athletic, Blue Jay, Indian and Brave may well replace Rendon in Washington after posting his latest excellent season with division-rival Atlanta. Otherwise, anyone from a group of teams consisting of the Braves, Twins, Rangers, Phillies or Dodgers could end up with the 34-year-old.
8. Nicholas Castellanos, OF: Age (28 in March) and a quality offensive track record are on Castellanos’ side. Defensive prowess isn’t, on the other hand, but struggles in the field shouldn’t stop Castellanos from securing a multiyear contract worth a sizable sum. The Cubs, with whom he thrived late last season, as well as the Marlins, Rangers, Giants and Diamondbacks are among the clubs that have been connected to Castellanos in free agency.
9. Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP: With Cole, Strasburg, Wheeler and Madison Bumgarner no longer seeking employment, Ryu has assumed the mantle as the No. 1 pitcher without a contract. Ryu will turn 33 in March, and injuries have been problematic for him at times, yet there has been talk of a four-year contract worth at least $17MM per season for the career-long Dodger. Deservedly so, as Ryu finished second in NL Cy Young voting last season.
11. Marcell Ozuna, OF: Between the Marlins and Cardinals, Ozuna owns a years-long track record of posting above-average overall production. But the 29-year-old is more a good player than a star, which is likely why he’s still seeking a contract after most of the truly elite position players have already vacated the board. And the fact that Ozuna has a qualifying offer weighing him down surely doesn’t help.
14. Dallas Keuchel, LHP: A qualifying offer was among the reasons Keuchel didn’t find a contract until last June, when he finally signed with the Braves on a one-year, $13MM pact. The soon-to-be 32-year-old Keuchel didn’t have a banner season with the Braves, and there hasn’t been a ton of reported interest in him this winter, but the former AL Cy Young winner should do better this time with no QO hanging over his head.
21. Julio Teheran, RHP: Teheran, 29 in January, has amassed seven straight seasons of at least 170 innings while posting a career 3.67 ERA/4.23 FIP. He walks too many hitters (upward of four per nine in each of the previous two years), but if you’re in the market for a durable, passable mid- to back-end starter, you can do a whole lot worse than Teheran. That said, rumors on Teheran have been scarce since the Braves declined his $12MM option for 2020 a few days into November.
22. Will Harris, RHP: This isn’t a great offseason for free-agent relievers, especially considering Aroldis Chapman and Will Smith resolved their contract statuses weeks ago. But the underrated Harris, 35, has been rather strong over the past several years. A former Rockie, Diamondback and Astro, Harris logged a 2.84 ERA/3.03 FIP with 9.58 K/9, 2.32 BB/9 and a 49.6 percent groundball rate from 2012-19. Despite that success, though, Harris has drawn very little reported interest this offseason. If you look at Harris’ MLBTR archive, Minnesota has been the only known pursuer thus far.
25. Corey Dickerson, OF: Injuries were a problem for Dickerson in 2019, a 78-game season split between the two Pennsylvania teams, but there’s little doubt he can hit. The well-traveled 30-year-old owns a .286/.328/.504 line with 115 home runs in almost 3,000 plate appearances since debuting in 2014. Nevertheless, Miami is the sole club that has shown rumored interest in Dickerson since free agency.
28. Daniel Hudson, RHP: Rumors centering on Hudson, who became an unexpected hero for the World Series-winning Nationals after they acquired him from the Blue Jays at July’s deadline, had been scarce until Tuesday. While a return to Washington has looked like a no-brainer for both sides this winter, they remain apart in contract talks. The hard-throwing Hudson, 33 in March, wants a multiyear pact and may be able to find one with another team if the Nats don’t meet his demands.
33. Robinson Chirinos, C: Yasmani Grandal and Travis d’Arnaud are among the free-agent catchers who have found new homes, and it shouldn’t be long before the 35-year-old Chirinos follows them. Although defense isn’t Chirinos’ calling card, his above-average offensive track record leaves him as arguably the best backstop left on the market. At least a few teams have shown interest this offseason in Chirinos, including the AL-winning Houston club that benefited from adding him in 2019.