Free agency has moved much quicker this winter compared to the previous couple offseasons. MLBTR ranked the top 50 players on the market at the beginning of November, and the majority of them have already found new deals. Two more familiar names came off the board Thursday with reliever Will Harris agreeing to join the Nationals and catcher Jason Castro heading to the Angels. There are still some stragglers from our top 50, though, so with January underway, let’s use that list to check in on the 10 highest-ranked players available…
5. Josh Donaldson, 3B (original prediction: three years, $75MM)
- Donaldson’s the lone free agent left with an elite track record. Even at 34 years old, he could command a four-year contract approaching $100MM. The Braves (his previous team), Nationals, Twins, Dodgers, Phillies and Rangers are among the teams that have shown interest in Donaldson this winter. Donaldson’s choice figures to affect the trade market, as the clubs that lose out on him could become more motivated to pursue the Cubs’ Kris Bryant or the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado.
8. Nicholas Castellanos, OF (original prediction: four years, $58MM)
- The Cubs would still like to re-sign Castellanos, but their aversion to the luxury tax could prevent that from happening. The crosstown rival White Sox, not to mention the Rangers and Giants, have also shown recent interest in the big-hitting 27-year-old.
11. Marcell Ozuna, OF (original prediction: three years, $45MM)
- Ozuna’s saddled by a qualifying offer, but that hasn’t stopped interest from pouring in. The 29-year-old’s most recent team, the Cardinals, as well as the Reds and Rangers are reportedly the leading candidates to sign him.
28. Daniel Hudson, RP (original prediction: two years, $12MM)
- Harris could replace Hudson in Washington, but the latter has replaced the former as the No. 1-ranked reliever without a deal. Hudson was one of the many heroes for the Nationals during their World Series-winning campaign in 2019, and multiple teams have reportedly been willing to offer him multiyear deals as a result. The hard-throwing 32-year-old hasn’t found one to his liking, though.
33. Robinson Chirinos, C (original prediction: two years, $10MM)
- Chirinos’ stay in free agency may be on the verge of ending, as he seems to be nearing a decision on where to sign. The 35-year-old has been a popular free agent this offseason, and that’s understandable when considering how effective he has been at the plate throughout his career.
35. Craig Stammen, RP (original prediction: two years, $10MM)
- While there was lots of interest in Stammen during last month’s Winter Meetings, it’s been radio silence in terms of rumors since then. But the 35-year-old brings an enticing mix of effectiveness and durability to the table. Dating back to 2017, Stammen has averaged 80 innings per season, put up a 50.6 percent groundball rate and recorded a 3.06 ERA/3.57 FIP. Stammen also walked fewer than 1.7 batters per nine a season ago and saw his average fastball velocity rise to a career-high 92.8 mph, though it’s worth noting his swinging-strike rate plummeted about 5 percent from 2018 to ’19.
36. Steve Cishek, RP (original prediction: two years, $10MM)
- Cishek reportedly hopes to sign with the Red Sox, but it’s up in the air whether they’re willing to meet the Massachusetts native’s asking price. Whether it’s Boston or someone else, the team that lands Cishek will be adding a hurler who has somewhat quietly enjoyed an excellent career. The soft-tossing, sidearming Cishek, 33, has registered a sub-3.00 ERA in seven of his nine full seasons, including last year with the Cubs. Although Cishek’s strikeout and walk rates in 2019 didn’t impress (8.02 K/9, 4.08 BB/9), he induced grounders at a 50 percent clip and thrived at limiting hard contact, ranking in Statcast’s 99th percentile in average exit velocity against and hard-hit rate.
37. Yasiel Puig, OF (original prediction: one year, $8MM)
- Puig’s still just 29 years old and has starred in the past, but he’s having a hard time on the market after a down season divided between Cincinnati and Cleveland. Those teams haven’t shown any reported interest in bringing Puig back, and the clubs that have been connected to him (the Marlins and White Sox) have gone in other directions to address their needs.
39. Alex Wood, LHP (original prediction: one year, $8MM)
- Another Red from 2019, Wood’s the sole starter on this list. Although the 28-year-old had a quality run between the Braves and Dodgers from 2013-18, he hit the market at an inopportune time. Back problems largely kept Wood off the mound last season, and during the 35 2/3 innings he did pitch, he slumped to a 5.80 ERA/6.38 FIP.
41. Brock Holt, UTIL (original prediction: two years, $8MM)
- Reported interest in Holt has been scarce, even though he’s coming off a nice run in Boston. While the 31-year-old possesses very little power, he has proved capable of mixing roughly league-average offensive production with defensive versatility. Holt saw action at six different positions (mostly second base) last season.