MLB Trade Rumors is proud to present our 15th annual Top 50 Free Agents list! For the entire list of free agents, plus the ability to filter by signing status, position, signing team, and qualifying offer status, check out our mobile-friendly free agent tracker here.
New to MLBTR? You can follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, and download our free app for iOS and Android.
MLBTR writers Steve Adams and Connor Byrne joined me in this collaboration, debating free agent contracts and destinations for many hours over the past month. If you’d like to support the effort that went into this list, please consider a subscription. Check out all the benefits here!
Our annual Free Agent Prediction for this group is now closed, but you can see the leaderboard here.
We vetted these as much as possible, but with 50 predictions and a volatile free agent and trade marketplace, we know we’ll be off on some. The pandemic only makes the task harder, as we don’t know how conservative each club will be in light of drastically reduced revenue in 2020. Have your say on all of this in the comment section!
On to our top 50 free agents:
1. Trevor Bauer – Dodgers. Four years, $128MM. Bauer, 30 in January, has the inside track for the NL Cy Young award this year. In his stellar 73 innings, Bauer posted an NL-best 1.73 ERA. He placed second in the league in K% and third in fWAR. His control was excellent, and his 2.94 SIERA supports the elite nature of his surface-level stats. Arguably the game’s foremost pitch scientist, Bauer was instrumental in putting Driveline Baseball on the map and has engineered his way to the highest fastball spin rate in baseball and a 92nd percentile curveball spin rate.
The abbreviated 2020 season successfully puts Bauer’s initial Reds stint in the rearview mirror, as he had posted a 6.39 ERA over ten starts after Cincinnati landed him at the 2019 trade deadline. Some of Bauer’s success in 2020 is owed to an NL-leading .215 batting average on balls in play, an unsustainable figure. In the three previous seasons, Bauer’s BABIP was .306, higher than that of MLB at large. Bauer is a flyball pitcher, which has at times led to a subpar home run rate. He’s had an erratic career statistically: a 2.21 ERA and sixth-place Cy Young finish in 2018, the 1.73 ERA in the shortened 2020 season, and no other seasons below 4.18.
The third overall pick by the Diamondbacks out of UCLA in 2011, Bauer has been marching to his own drum and generating headlines for his entire career. He clashed with D’Backs catcher Miguel Montero and others in his rookie season, and landed in Cleveland in an offseason trade. Bauer spent parts of seven seasons with the Indians, making the news for a drone-related injury, a Twitter conflict with a college student, and throwing the ball over the center field wall after being taken out of his last start for the team. Bauer also seemingly served as a de facto pitching coach at times in Cleveland, taking a hand in the success of teammates Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber. Bauer was eventually traded to the Reds in another three-team deal.
Bauer’s grievances with the Astros go back several years, and he’s been deeply critical of their sign-stealing scandal. It’s safe to say he’s unlikely to sign with Houston despite recent trolling efforts. The Yankees could be in play, as Bauer has made clear he’s past the conflict he had with former college teammate Gerrit Cole. In September, Bauer walked back his longstanding commitment to exclusively signing one-year contracts in free agency, expressing an openness to longer deals. Perhaps the idea behind the one-year pledge was flexibility, which Bauer could achieve through opt-outs or by limiting the term to fewer than the seven years he could theoretically receive. That’s why we’ve landed at a four-year contract. If Bauer doesn’t find the multiyear offers to his liking, it’s still possible to imagine a one-year contract — especially one where he exceeds Cole’s record $36MM average annual value.
Bauer has also expressed a desire to pitch for a contender known to be strong on technology. Interestingly, he aims to pitch every fourth day, suggesting he considers himself capable of being the first pitcher to make 40 starts in a season since Charlie Hough in 1987. I imagine that idea would have been well-received when Bauer was in one-year deal mercenary mode, but it will be harder to square for a team making a large multiyear commitment and/or taking on the downside risk of an opt-out clause.
We’ve never seen a free agent quite like Trevor Bauer in our 15 years doing this. While the Reds have issued a qualifying offer to Bauer, they seem unlikely to finish as the winning bidder. We see the Dodgers, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Blue Jays, Braves, White Sox, Giants, Angels, Twins, Padres, and Nationals as potential suitors.
Signed with Dodgers for three years, $102MM with two opt-outs.
2. J.T. Realmuto – Mets. Five years, $125MM. Realmuto took over the mantle as the best catcher in baseball in 2018, and hasn’t let the title go since. Thirty years old in March, Realmuto has a 114 wRC+, including a 125 mark this year. Given that the typical catcher checks in at 90, Realmuto is a major asset with the bat. He’s also adept at controlling the running game, ranking first in MLB since 2018 with a 41.3% caught-stealing rate (minimum 1,200 innings caught). Statcast rates Realmuto as a 95th percentile pitch framer as well. Realmuto is the fastest-running catcher in baseball too, a point in his favor for teams worried about his aging curve. Realmuto’s offense and speed are above average for any player, so as a catcher with high-end defensive skills, he really stands out.
A third-round draft pick of the Marlins out of high school in 2011, Realmuto was traded to the Phillies in February 2019 for Sixto Sanchez and Jorge Alfaro. While Alfaro has faltered for the Marlins, Sanchez’s recent success prompted Phillies owner John Middleton to declare he was against the deal unless Realmuto could be signed to an extension. In Realmuto’s two years with the Phillies, a contract extension did not materialize, despite the advocacy of teammate Bryce Harper. According to Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer in June, Realmuto’s camp “viewed the five-year, $130 million extension signed by St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt before last season as a potential target.” Exceeding the $23MM average annual value of Joe Mauer’s contract may also be a goal. We believe that as the best catcher in baseball on the open market, Realmuto will set a new AAV record for catchers on a five or six-year deal.
The Phillies have issued a qualifying offer to Realmuto. Should their efforts to sign him fall short, the Mets, Yankees, Nationals, Astros, Angels, Blue Jays, Reds, or Cardinals are possible suitors.
Signed with Phillies for five years, $115.5MM.
3. George Springer – White Sox. Five years, $125MM. Aside from Nelson Cruz, no free agent has topped Springer’s 153 wRC+ since 2019. The 31-year-old has consistently mashed since the Astros called him up in 2014, and he rates as one of the 15 best position players in baseball. Springer has cut his strikeout rate significantly over the years while developing 35 home run power. Springer has played both right and center field in his career, generally ranking above average defensively. For teams seeking a middle-of-the-order hitter capable of playing a premium defensive position, you can’t do much better than Springer on the free-agent market.
The elephant in the room: Springer was implicated in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal of 2017-18. Tony Adams’ examination of 58 Astros 2017 regular season home games revealed 131 trash can bangs during Springer plate appearances, second-most on the team. Springer’s strikeout rate in 2017 dropped to a career-best, though he bettered the mark in 2020 presumably without cheating. An analysis by Jake Mailhot at FanGraphs suggested Springer thrived in medium-leverage situations on his trash can bangs, but was actually hurt in other instances.
Springer is an excellent hitter without cheating, as evidenced by his performance the last two seasons. Much like players have gotten large contracts following steroid suspensions, Springer will find plenty of interest from GMs focused on winning. He has apologized, and will likely be embraced by fans if he moves to a new team and continues producing. He’ll hear his boos on the road when fans return, but I don’t think the PR of the sign-stealing scandal will have a major effect on his free agent market. The Astros have made a qualifying offer to Springer, and a return does make sense. Otherwise, the White Sox, Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Cardinals, and Nationals are potential fits.
Signed with Blue Jays for six years, $150MM.
4. Marcell Ozuna – Nationals. Four years, $72MM. For teams seeking pure offense, Ozuna’s 2020 season stands above everyone else. The left fielder/DH, who’ll turn 30 in November, put up a 179 wRC+ that ranked third in all of baseball this past season. He topped the NL with 18 home runs and 56 RBIs, monster numbers for a 60-game season. Ozuna’s Statcast profile jumps off the page, with 96th percentile exit velocity, 97th percentile hard-hit rate, and 94th percentile barrel rate. Ozuna’s exit velocity and hard-hit rate have usually been in the top ten percent in baseball, even when he was putting up a modest 108 wRC+ for the 2018-19 Cardinals.
One limiting factor with Ozuna is his defense. With the Cardinals, a shoulder injury hindered his arm strength, limiting him to left field. This year, Ozuna started at DH about 65% of the time. Confirmation of an NL DH for 2021 would open up Ozuna’s market, but it helps that most believe the DH will become permanently universal the following year. A National League club could certainly live with Ozuna as a full-time left fielder in 2021 and then look to work him in more at DH in subsequent seasons.
As a free agent last winter with a qualifying offer attached, Ozuna found the multi-year offers disappointing. His best offer may have been in the range of the three years and $50MM reportedly offered by the Reds, which prompted Ozuna to take a one-year, $18MM deal with the Braves. Now, unburdened by a qualifying offer and coming off a monster season, Ozuna is poised to get the high-end multi-year deal he craved a year ago. The Braves figure to attempt to retain him, though all of their NL East competitors make some measure of sense.
Signed with Braves for four years, $65MM.
5. DJ LeMahieu – Blue Jays. Four years, $68MM. Coming off an uninspiring 2018 season to cap his Rockies career, LeMahieu inked a two-year, $24MM free agent deal with the Yankees. The move turned out to be a masterstroke for New York, with LeMahieu posting a 146 wRC+ over 871 plate appearances while playing his typical strong second base and holding his own at the infield corners. It’s easy to argue that LeMahieu is the best free agent at first base, second base, and third base this winter. He’s got three Gold Gloves on his resume and finished fourth in the MVP voting in 2019, hitting a career-high 26 home runs. He topped that with a 177 wRC+ in 216 plate appearances this year, fourth in all of baseball.
2020 was actually LeMahieu’s second batting title, as he snagged one in 2016 with the Rockies as well. LeMahieu rarely strikes out, with a 9.7 K% that ranked second in baseball this year. His power increased significantly with the Yankees, though one red flag is that he had the third-worst average home run distance in MLB in 2020 at 360 feet. He was bottom-20 in that regard last year as well, and LeMahieu’s 17 opposite-field homers when playing at home since Opening Day 2019 are easily the most in baseball. (Freddie Freeman is next, at 12.) In other words, it’s not clear that his power that will fully translate everywhere. LeMahieu is certainly still squaring the ball up, however — he placed in the 86th percentile in exit velocity and 82nd in hard-hit percentage. It’s just that he’s more likely to be a 15 home run hitter than 25.
In a normal offseason, Josh Donaldson’s four-year, $92MM contract would be within reach for LeMahieu. While his high-contact hard-hitting style, defense, and versatility should result in a strong market for the 32-year-old, we think he’ll fall short of Donaldson in this climate. The Yankees will look to re-sign him after issuing a qualifying offer, but if they reach their limit the Blue Jays, Nationals, Angels, or Dodgers could be suitors.
Signed with Yankees for six years, $90MM.
6. Marcus Stroman – Angels. Four years, $68MM. Stroman has a case as the best free agent starter available after Trevor Bauer. Stroman, 29, began his season in July on the IL for a calf injury and then decided to opt out of the 2020 season as a “collective family decision.” His body of work should still position him well in a weak market for free agent starting pitching. In 2019, Stroman posted a 3.22 ERA and 62% groundball rate across 32 starts for the Blue Jays and Mets, a strong All-Star bounceback from a 2018 season marred by a shoulder injury and a blister.
From 2017-19, Stroman profiled very similar to Dallas Keuchel, albeit with an additional four miles per hour on his fastball. One of the game’s top groundball starters, Stroman isn’t a big strikeout pitcher. While his low 3.00s ERAs in 2017 and 2019 suggest a front-of-the-rotation arm, his continually-climbing SIERAs suggest an ERA closer to 4.00 is the more likely bet. Because of his elite groundball tendencies, a strong infield defense may help Stroman outperform his peripherals.
While missing the 2020 season doesn’t help Stroman’s cause, he’s well-regarded around the game and may be able to match or exceed Nate Eovaldi’s four-year, $68MM pact. The Mets have issued a qualifying offer, which will be detrimental to Stroman’s market to some degree. In the likely event Stroman declines, the Angels, Braves, Nationals, Giants, Phillies, and White Sox could be possibilities.
Accepted one-year, $18.9MM qualifying offer from Mets.
7. Ha-Seong Kim – Rangers. Five years, $40MM (plus $7.625MM posting fee). The list of 25-year-old legitimate shortstops who can hit for power that have jumped from either NPB or the KBO to Major League Baseball is– check that, it doesn’t exist. At least until now. Kim is a unicorn given his blend of age, power, speed and defensive aptitude at a premium position. Most Asian professional players are in their late 20s or early 30s by the time they’re either posted for MLB clubs (typically after seven or eight seasons) or reach unrestricted international free agency (after nine seasons). Kim, despite his youth, already has seven pro seasons under his belt thanks to an 18-year-old KBO debut, and the Kiwoom Heroes have agreed to post him for big league clubs this winter.
There’s always some degree of uncertainty with hitters coming over from Japan or South Korea to face what is accepted as a superior level of pitching. There’s a general expectation that Kim, however, is better equipped to handle the change than most. Baseball America wrote back in May that he’d be a Top 100 prospect in MLB the moment he came over — and that was before he set the KBO ablaze with an outrageous .314/.405/.541 slash — good for a 147 wRC+. Kim walked more often than he struck out (12 percent versus 10.4 percent), belted 30 home runs and swiped 21 bases in 23 tries. (He’s 54-for-60 over the past two seasons.) FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen calls Kim a “5-foot-9 stick of dynamite” with “thunderous” physical tools.
The simple fact is that players with this type of upside typically don’t attempt to come to the Major Leagues until they’re on the downside of their prime or even beyond it. Kim is bucking that trend, and while he’s doing so in the most uncertain economic climate in recent MLB memory, the possibility of landing an in-his-prime bargain who can provide above-average offense at shortstop, second base or third base is so tantalizing that we expect a club to make a bolder play than we’ve seen for a KBO position player to date.
You could make the argument that Kim is a coveted player for any rebuilding club as it looks to turn the corner or as a high-upside plug-in for a more immediate win-now club. We expect him to trounce previous contracts for older, star-level KBO hitters like Jung Ho Kang (four years, $11.5MM) and ByungHo Park (four years, $12MM). Given that he can play three infield slots, Kim could be theoretically placed on any club. The most sensible fits, in our minds, are clubs several years into a rebuild — Tigers, Orioles, Mariners — or win-now teams with an obvious hole at an infield position. That could be the Angels, A’s, Phillies, Reds or Cardinals, but it’s frankly pretty easy to make an on-paper case for Kim with any team that isn’t completely risk-averse and is willing to spend a bit of money. Kim does not have a geographic preference for where he signs and will likely go to the highest bidder who is willing to plug him directly onto its 2021 Opening Day roster.
Signed four-year, $28MM deal with Padres. Additional $5.25MM release fee paid to Kiwoom Heroes.
8. Didi Gregorius – Reds. Three years, $39MM. Gregorius, 31 in February, bet on himself last offseason in signing a one-year, $14MM deal with the Phillies. He was able to deliver a full, healthy season with a 116 wRC+, basically looking like vintage Yankees Didi before his October 2018 Tommy John surgery. Of the big three veteran shortstops on the market this winter, Gregorius clearly had the best season.
A native of Curacao, Gregorius was born in Amsterdam because his father was pitching there, according to Baseball America. The Reds signed him for $50K in 2007, and Gregorius steadily improved his stock in the minors. He was blocked in Cincinnati by Zack Cozart, however, and landed with the Diamondbacks in the same three-team deal that netted Trevor Bauer for the Indians. Two years later Gregorius was part of another three-team deal, joining the Yankees as Derek Jeter’s replacement. By 2017 he developed an above-average bat and received MVP votes in a pair of 4+ WAR seasons for the Yankees. This is his shot at a solid multiyear deal, and the Phillies choice not to issue a qualifying offer only helps his market. The Phillies may look to retain him, but otherwise the Reds and Angels would be good fits.
Signed with Phillies for two years, $28MM.
9. Kevin Gausman – Giants. Accepts one year, $18.9MM qualifying offer. Gausman is the hardest-throwing free agent starter at 95.2 miles per hour on average, and his strikeout rate and SIERA trailed only Bauer. Gausman turns 30 in January and seemed primed for the first multiyear deal of his career – until the Giants tagged him with a qualifying offer. For a player who had been non-tendered the previous winter, locking in $18.9MM for 2020 while continuing to pitch in a favorable environment might be too hard to pass up. Plus, he’s the type of player who might be dragged down by a qualifying offer on the open market, with teams not thrilled to give up a draft pick to sign him.
We only have ten starts of the new and improved Gausman, which is why we think he might lean toward the risk-averse side. His first appearance of the season with the Giants was in long relief, and he missed one start with elbow tightness in September. The prior year, the righty had bombed in a half-season with Atlanta — primarily due to a spike in BABIP — and then was claimed off waivers by the Reds, who used Gausman somewhat effectively in relief. But before 2019, Gausman had established himself through solid work over a five-year span in the AL East with the Orioles — a 4.03 ERA over 775 2/3 innings. From 2016-18, Gausman had almost exactly the same fWAR as fellow free agent Marcus Stroman. He’s a guy with a respectable track record, coming off a season that suggests there’s another level for him. We think Gausman will accept the qualifying offer, but if not, the Mets, Blue Jays, Yankees, Angels, White Sox, Nationals, and Phillies all look viable.
Accepted one-year, $18.9MM qualifying offer from Giants.
10. Masahiro Tanaka – Yankees. Three years, $39MM. If you were an MLBTR reader seven years ago, you remember what a huge deal it was that the Rakuten Golden Eagles posted Tanaka coming off a monster year in Japan at just 26 years of age. The Yankees won the bidding with a then-massive seven-year, $155MM deal, complete with an opt-out clause and another $20MM posting fee paid to the Golden Eagles. Just 18 starts into his MLB career, Tanaka was diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm. Doctors said surgery was not yet needed. More than six years have passed since then, and Tanaka never did require Tommy John surgery.
Tanaka’s Yankees career has been that of a solid mid-rotation starter, peaking with a seventh-place Cy Young finish in 2016. He averaged 30 starts per year from 2016-19 and had a healthy 2020 season aside from a mild concussion from a line drive. Tanaka has impeccable control, but has been prone to the long ball throughout his career with over 16% of his fly-balls leaving the yard (at home and on the road). He’s not as exciting as he was seven years ago, but he’ll draw widespread interest as someone who was able to post a sub-4.00 ERA for the big-market Yankees. And unlike Bauer, Stroman, and Gausman, Tanaka hasn’t been tagged with a qualifying offer. If the Yankees somehow don’t keep him, the Mets, Cubs, Braves, Giants, Angels, Blue Jays, Nationals, Phillies, Red Sox, and White Sox are potential suitors.
Signed with Rakuten Golden Eagles for two years.
11. Jake Odorizzi – Blue Jays. Three years, $39MM. Last winter, after a breakout 2019 season, we predicted a three-year deal for Odorizzi. He may have had a few such offers on the table, but Odorizzi instead chose to accept a qualifying offer from the Twins for a $17.8MM salary. His 2020 season did not go as planned, as he started the season on the IL for a back injury. After he made it back for three starts, he was hit in the chest by a batted ball, with the resulting abdomen injury knocking him out for nearly a month. His lone September start was cut short by a blister, and he didn’t wind up pitching again. So it was a lost season of only 13 2/3 innings for Odorizzi.
Re-entering the market during a pandemic is not ideal, but Odorizzi does benefit from the lack of a qualifying offer and a weak free agent market for starting pitching. He’s shown the ability to miss bats, and averaged 30 starts per year over a six-year period. Odorizzi still has never gone on the IL for an arm injury, and he maintained his 2019 velocity uptick in this year’s limited sample of work. A multiyear deal should be there for him, with a similar market to Tanaka.
Signed with Astros for three years, $23.5MM.
12. Liam Hendriks – Phillies. Three years, $30MM. Hendriks went from going unclaimed on waivers by 29 teams to making the All-Star team in the span of one year. Now, he’s the best reliever on the free agent market. The Australian righty, 32 in February, boasts a 1.79 ERA, 13.1 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, and 0.49 HR/9 over 110 1/3 innings since 2019 for the Athletics. He led all MLB relievers in WAR easily over that period, and his 96.4 mile per hour fastball ranks 11th among those with at least 80 innings. Hendriks is fifth in MLB in leverage index during that period, so he’s done all this pitching in the most critical parts of games.
Signed by the Twins out of Australia in 2007 for $170K, Hendriks had a breakout season a decade ago in the minors. At the time, Baseball America said he “pumps four quality pitches for strikes.” Nonetheless, Hendriks struggled as a starter in the Majors for the Twins. Once they decided to move on in 2013, he was claimed off waivers three times in a span of 70 days, landing with Toronto and joining Marcus Stroman in the 2014 Buffalo Bisons’ rotation. He was traded to the Royals that summer, designated for assignment after the season, then traded back to the Blue Jays. After finally finding success out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, Hendriks was traded in the offseason to the A’s for Jesse Chavez. After a few years of solid work, Hendriks’ ERA sat at 7.36 through 11 innings for the 2018 A’s, and they designated him for assignment in favor of Edwin Jackson.
From that low point, Hendriks earned his way back onto the A’s 40-man roster and ascended to become not just their best reliever, but one of the best in baseball. The A’s choice not to issue a qualifying offer can only help Hendriks’ market. Prior to Brad Hand and his $10MM salary passing through waivers unclaimed, we would have said Will Smith’s three-year, $40MM contract with the Braves would serve as a target for Hendriks. Now, we’re not so sure he can get there. Still, the Phillies, Angels, Dodgers, White Sox, Astros, Giants, Mariners, Marlins, Mets, and Nationals could be suitors as teams in need of late-inning relief.
Signed with White Sox for three years, $54MM.
13. Michael Brantley – Braves. Two years, $28MM. Brantley, 34 in May, ranked 20th in MLB among qualified hitters with a 134 wRC+ over the past two seasons for the Astros. His .309 batting average during that time ranked eighth in MLB, and his 11.4% strikeout rate was fourth-best. He’s the perfect fit for teams seeking a productive contact hitter who can handle left field. The Astros signed Brantley to a two-year, $32MM deal in December 2018, and the contract became a rousing success. It’s worth noting that Brantley’s signing came after the Astros’ sign-stealing is thought to have ended, and he has not been implicated in the scandal.
Brantley, a seventh-round pick by the Brewers in 2005, was traded to the Indians in the 2008 CC Sabathia deal. He developed into an above-average hitter by 2012, peaking with a 6.5 WAR 2014 season and a third-place MVP finish. Injuries limited Brantley to 101 games from 2016-17, but he’s avoided anything major in the last three seasons. He has had the luxury of the DH spot in Houston, at which he was utilized more often this year than in the field (though that’s partially owed to Yordan Alvarez being out). Brantley grades out as a solid left fielder, so NL teams will likely be in the mix this winter even if the DH isn’t confirmed for that league for 2021. The Indians chose not to issue a qualifying offer after the 2018 season, nor did the Astros this winter. The Braves, Astros, Nationals, Cardinals, Blue Jays, White Sox, Cubs, and Dodgers could be suitors.
Signed with Astros for two years, $32MM.
14. Justin Turner – Dodgers. Two years, $24MM. Even at nearly 36 years old, Turner continued to rake with a 140 wRC+ this season for the Dodgers despite a dip in power. Among those with at least 3,000 plate appearances from 2014 to present, Turner ranks ninth in all of baseball — just behind Bryce Harper — with a 141 wRC+. It’s a remarkable ascension considering his journeyman trajectory prior to landing in L.A.
Turner was drafted in the seventh round as a senior out of Cal State Fullerton by the Reds in 2006, praised for his baseball instincts and love of the game. After a December 2008 trade to the Orioles, Baseball America noted, “He’ll never be a star, and his lack of arm strength may make it tough for him to fill a utility role in the big leagues, but his ability to hit for average and get on base will get him there.” Turner failed to make an impact with the Orioles, who designated him for assignment in May 2010 to make room for Scott Moore. The Mets claimed Turner off waivers and gave him some opportunities from 2011-13, non-tendering him in 2013 with little fanfare despite a salary projection of less than $1MM. Turner inked a minor league deal with his hometown Dodgers in February 2014, turning down offers from the Red Sox and Twins. No team, including the Dodgers, realized that after an offseason hitting with former teammate Marlon Byrd, Turner would establish himself as one of the game’s best hitters over the next seven years.
There are a few negatives, as Turner has lost a step defensively and isn’t the most durable player. He’d benefit from the addition of an NL DH, but could certainly handle infield corner work for at least one more season. It’s hard to picture the Dodgers letting Turner go, but if they do, the Nationals and Braves would be good fits. Turner recently garnered headlines for his removal from Game 6 of the World Series for a positive COVID-19 test, and his subsequent return to the field after the game to celebrate. The incident will likely have no effect on his free agency but could lead to some form of league discipline.
Signed with Dodgers for two years, $34MM.
15. Marcus Semien – Angels. One year, $14MM. Semien reaches free agency after six seasons as the A’s starting shortstop. He had settled in as a speedy, durable league-average bat with solid defense, until he broke out with a 137 wRC+ and 33 home runs in 2019. That season earned him a third-place MVP finish, but he was not able to repeat in 2020. Semien has never really lit up Statcast, and this year he was around the 10th percentile in most batting metrics.
Semien’s exploration of free agency comes free of a qualifying offer. He could seek out a one-year deal and hope for better offensive results, or he could look to max out his payday now with a two or three-year deal. The A’s may try to find a way to keep the Bay Area native, and otherwise the Angels, Blue Jays, Phillies, Reds, and Yankees could be suitors.
Signed with Blue Jays for one year, $18MM.
16. James McCann – Phillies. Two years, $20MM. After J.T. Realmuto, McCann is the best catcher on the free agent market this winter. The 30-year-old spent four years as the Tigers’ starting catcher, topping out at a 94 wRC+. Facing a potential $3.5MM salary through arbitration, Detroit chose not to tender McCann a contract in November 2018. The White Sox snagged him as a free agent on a $2.5MM salary. Surprisingly, McCann made the All-Star team for the Sox in 2019, posting a 109 wRC+ and prompting the club to tender him a contract (with a $1.9MM raise) afterward despite the club already having Yasmani Grandal in tow. The decision paid off, as McCann posted a stellar 144 wRC+ in 111 plate appearances.
Defensively, McCann has long been known for shutting down the running game. Pitch framing had been a weakness, but McCann found improvement by working with Jerry Narron last offseason and was able to demonstrate 88th percentile framing in his 245 2/3 innings behind the dish this year. Overall, McCann has raised his game enough in his time with the White Sox that a three-year deal might be available to him in free agency. The feeling here is that two is likelier, with the Phillies, Mets, Cardinals, Marlins, Brewers, and Yankees among those who could vie for his services.
Signed with Mets for four years, $40.6MM.
17. Andrelton Simmons – Yankees. One year, $12MM. Simmons, 31, carries a reputation as the best defensive shortstop in baseball. In eight-plus seasons with the Braves and Angels, Simmons has won the Gold Glove four times. Looking at 2013-19, Simmons absolutely laps the field in defensive metrics like UZR and DRS not only among shortstops but all players, regardless of position. He’s all over the Statcast Outs Above Average leaderboard for 2017-19. Offensively, Simmons has a high-contact, low-power profile, peaking with a 105 wRC+ from 2017-18. His defense was so valuable that he still ranked second among MLB shortstops in WAR during that period, behind only Francisco Lindor.
Simmons’ durability was strong from 2013-18, during which he averaged 146 games per year. But in May 2019, Simmons suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain trying to beat out a groundball, and had to be helped off the field. He aggravated the injury in August of that year, and the issue resurfaced this summer. He ended his 2020 season, and most likely his Angels career, a bit early by opting out on September 22nd. Simmons only played 265 1/3 innings in the field this year, but it’s fair to ask whether he can return to his Ozzie Smith-like ways. He posted a negative defensive runs saved mark for the first time in his career, and rated in the 20th percentile in outs above average. While he may receive multiyear offers, Simmons may be best-served to a take a one-year deal in hopes of rebuilding value. Like fellow free agent shortstops Didi Gregorius and Marcus Semien, Simmons was not issued a qualifying offer. He could fit at shortstop for several teams, including the Yankees, Phillies, Reds, Blue Jays, and Indians.
Signed with Twins for one year, $10.5MM.
18. Joc Pederson – Cardinals. Two years, $18MM. Pederson, 29 in April, should be one of the more affordable power-hitting outfielders after experiencing a down season. Just last year, Pederson smacked 36 home runs in 514 plate appearances for the Dodgers, the fourth time he’s hit 25+ bombs. Nearly traded to the Angels in February, Pederson was part of the Dodgers’ left field platoon this year. He never found his swing, putting up a career-worst 88 wRC+ in 138 plate appearances. Pederson is strictly a platoon bat, only reaching 100 plate appearances against lefties in one season in his career and never having success against them.
On the other hand, Pederson posted a 132 wRC+ against right-handed pitching from 2015-19, which ranked 21st in all of baseball. Even in his rough 2020 season, Pederson showed 96th percentile exit velocity, 79th percentile hard hit percentage, and 68th percentile barrel rate, so there’s good reason to think he’ll get back to mashing righties. Pederson has been used at all three outfield positions, though he fits best at the corners. A two-year deal gives him the opportunity to head back to the market in advance of his age-31 season, so he could lock in some cash now and still have another shot at a second decent free-agent deal — perhaps after a better platform campaign. The Cardinals, Giants, Astros, Nationals, White Sox, and Tigers are potential matches.
Signed with Cubs for one year, $7MM.
19. Jose Quintana – Red Sox. Two years, $18MM. Like Jake Odorizzi, Quintana is another typically reliable starter who had a lost year in 2020. Quintana, 32 in January, pitched only ten innings for the Cubs this year due to thumb surgery and lat inflammation. The Cubs expected big things from the southpaw upon acquiring him in July of 2017, sending Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease to the White Sox. Q wound up providing a 4.24 ERA over 439 2/3 innings for the Cubs, short of what he furnished for the White Sox for the better part of five seasons.
Signed as a free agent by the White Sox in November 2011, Quintana was sixth among all MLB pitchers with 18.2 WAR from 2014-17, though he only made one All-Star team. Even in 2018-19, he wasn’t quite the innings eater he once was, averaging 5.4 innings per start. But even 160 innings of 4.25 ERA ball would have value for MLB teams short on capable starting pitching. The Red Sox, Blue Jays, Angels, Braves, Giants, Mets, Nationals, or Phillies could fit the bill.
Signed with Angels for one year, $8MM.
20. Nelson Cruz – Twins. One year, $16MM. Even at age 40, all Cruz does is hit. The Twins’ DH posted a 164 wRC+ this year with 16 home runs. His 150 wRC+ from 2015-20 ranks second in MLB among qualified hitters — behind only Mike Trout. Despite waiting until age 28 to become an MLB regular, Cruz has become one of MLB’s best hitters of the past decade. He’s basically been a lock for 40 home runs every year dating back to 2014.
Cruz is strictly a designated hitter, so uncertainty about the NL DH in 2021 hurts his market. He’s said to be seeking a two-year deal and can’t be tagged with a qualifying offer. If a reunion with the Twins falls through, the White Sox, Rays, or a reunion with the Mariners could make sense.
Signed with Twins for one year, $13MM.
21. Jackie Bradley Jr. – Astros. Two years, $16MM. Bradley, 31 in April, was drafted 40th overall in 2011 by the Red Sox out of the University of South Carolina as a supplemental pick for the loss of Adrian Beltre. He shook off trade rumors to eventually become a starter in Boston’s outfield toward the end of the 2015 season, taking over the center field job in 2016 and holding it for five seasons. Bradley made the All-Star team in ’16 and won a Gold Glove in 2018. Statcast backed up Bradley’s defensive reputation this year, as he ranked in the 99th percentile for outs above average.
Offensively, Bradley has had runs as a 120 wRC+ bat, including a season and a half from 2015-16 and 217 plate appearances this year. However, he posted a very consistent 90 wRC+ over 1,643 plate appearances from 2017-19, suggesting he’s a bit below average as a hitter compared to the average center fielder. The result is a floor of about two wins above replacement, with the potential for more. For those not willing to spend on George Springer, Bradley is the only other starting center fielder on the market. The Astros, Diamondbacks, Cubs, and Phillies could be interested.
Signed with Brewers for two years, $24MM.
22. James Paxton – White Sox. One year, $10MM. Paxton, 32 in November, has spent his career tantalizing with ace potential but failing to stay healthy. Nicknamed Big Maple, Paxton hails from Ladner, Canada. He was drafted 37th overall by the Blue Jays out of the University of Kentucky in 2009. After the Blue Jays were unable to sign Paxton, president Paul Beeston made public comments about negotiating with Scott Boras, which violated the NCAA’s goofy “no agent rule” that only allows for a “family adviser.” As Matthew Sekeres wrote in the Globe and Mail back then, “It’s a fine line, and there is a wink-and-nudge nature to the dance.” Fearing NCAA sanctions, Kentucky didn’t let Paxton play as a senior. He wound up pitching independent ball, after which the Mariners drafted him in the fourth round.
Paxton ascended to the Mariners’ rotation at the end of 2013, but was limited to 13 starts the following year due to a lat strain, triceps tightness, and shoulder inflammation. In 2015, Paxton was again limited to 13 starts, this time mainly due to a strained middle finger tendon. Paxton spent some time in Triple-A to begin 2016, joining the Mariners in June but going down with forearm tightness in August. Paxton’s healthiest years were 2017-18, when he averaged 26 starts and 148 innings per season despite missing time for a forearm strain, pectoral strain, back stiffness, a forearm contusion, and pneumonia. During this time, his control sharpened and his strikeout rate spiked, culminating in a May 2018 no-hitter against Toronto.
The Mariners traded Paxton to the Yankees in November 2018 for a package of players led by Justus Sheffield. Paxton made a career-high 29 starts for the 2019 Yankees, though he averaged only 5.2 innings per game and spent time on the IL for knee inflammation. The Yankees gave him three key starts in the playoffs, the best of which was a win in Game 5 of the ALCS against the Astros. After a hefty arbitration raise, Paxton underwent a microscopic lumbar discectomy to remove a peridiscal cyst from his back in February of this year. With the delayed start to the MLB season, he was not expected to miss time, but he was diagnosed with a left forearm flexor strain in August, ending his season after 20 1/3 innings.
Agent Scott Boras spoke to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com in October, saying, “He’s back to the James Paxton of ’19 in how he feels, how he’s throwing.” Boras suggested Paxton returned too quickly from his back injury, accounting for his significant 3.4 mile per hour velocity drop this season. Given his lengthy injury history, a clean bill of health will be crucial for Paxton. He could take a one-year deal in an attempt to rebuild value, though he will likely receive multiyear offers as well. While Paxton can hardly be counted on for more than 150 innings, if he’s healthy in October he can serve as a big-game pitcher for a playoff team.
Signed with Mariners for one year, $8.5MM.
23. Taijuan Walker – Nationals. Two years, $16MM. One of the younger free agents at 28 years old, Walker was drafted 43rd overall by the Mariners out of Yucaipa High School in California as a supplemental pick for the loss of, again, Adrian Beltre. Walker was a teenage phenom in the minor leagues, ranking as a Baseball America top 20 prospect three years running. He was often a rotation-mate of fellow free agent James Paxton. Walker made his MLB debut in 2013 at age 21. Shoulder inflammation sidelined him for most of the first half in 2014, but he was able to win the Mariners’ fifth starter job out of camp in 2015, and his 169 2/3 innings that year is a career-high to date.
Mariners managers Lloyd McClendon and Scott Servais had harsh words for Walker at various points, and his performance in Seattle’s rotation was underwhelming. In November 2016 the club sent Walker and Ketel Marte to the Diamondbacks for Mitch Haniger, Jean Segura, and Zac Curtis. Walker put up his best year in 2017: 28 starts with 2.5 WAR. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with a torn UCL the following season and had Tommy John surgery in April 2018. The D’Backs still tendered him a contract for ’19, but Walker was diagnosed with a capsule strain in his right shoulder as he worked his way back. He made just a single appearance that year and was non-tendered in the offseason, returning to the Mariners on a $2MM free agent deal.
After five starts for the Mariners, three of which were solid, Walker was traded to the Blue Jays for a minor leaguer. Walker gave up only four earned runs in his 26.3 innings for Toronto. Like Richards, this was a “good enough” Tommy John comeback season, as Walker averaged 4.85 innings per start and stayed healthy. He posted a 2.70 ERA, but without the peripheral stats to support even a sub-4.00 mark. His Statcast numbers were generally unexciting, aside from a 74th percentile hard hit rate. Nonetheless, there’s still upside here in Walker’s age and prospect pedigree. It’s easy to see a club that doesn’t need to rely on him for bulk innings hoping to catch lightning in a bottle on a two-year deal, and from his vantage point, such an arrangement would allow him to return to the market at 30 years of age.
Signed with Mets for two years, $20MM.
24. Garrett Richards – Phillies. Two years, $16MM. Among free agents with at least 50 innings in 2020, no one threw harder than Richards’ 95.2 mile per hour average fastball velocity. He did a decent job in his ten starts with the Padres this year, posting a 4.27 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, and 1.17 HR/9 in 46 1/3 frames. Though he’ll turn 33 in May, Richards may offer enough upside to land a two-year deal.
Richards was drafted 42nd overall by the Angels back in 2009 out of the University of Oklahoma, a supplemental pick for the loss of Francisco Rodriguez. Richards became a full-time starting pitcher for the Angels in 2014, making 58 starts over a two-year period despite dealing with knee surgery in-between. Since then, he’s never started more than 16 games in a season. The Halos’ Opening Day starter in 2016, Richards was diagnosed with a torn UCL shortly thereafter. He chose a a platelet-rich plasma injection over Tommy John surgery, and then experienced nerve irritation in his biceps the following year. Richards made only 12 starts from 2016-17, but got the Angels’ Opening Day nod again in 2018. In July of that year, an MRI revealed a damaged UCL again, at which point Richards went for Tommy John.
The Padres, knowing they wouldn’t get much from Richards in 2019, still gave him a $15MM free agent deal with an eye on 2020. After ten starts in which he averaged 4.63 innings, Richards was moved to the bullpen with the team hoping he could become a playoff weapon. Ultimately Richards made four brief appearances in the playoffs, two of which were low-leverage.
Though the decision may have made sense at the time, Richards pitching just 147 1/3 innings from 2016-19 can be largely attributed to the choice not to have Tommy John surgery upon initially learning of his UCL tear. While I wouldn’t necessarily expect him to go deep into games in 2021, it’s possible his injury woes are behind him after a healthy 2020 campaign. He could potentially draw interest from a dozen clubs this winter. Data-centric clubs will be especially interested, as Richards’ fastball and curveball both have some of the highest spin rates in the game.
Signed with Red Sox for one year, $10MM.
25. Kolten Wong – Red Sox. Two years, $16MM. The Cardinals’ decision to decline Wong’s $12.5MM club option came as a surprise to some, but this has long seemed like a plausible outcome. Wong’s profile — a pure second baseman lacking in power — is not one that gets paid well even in a normal offseason. Cesar Hernandez found himself non-tendered with a lower projected salary just one offseason ago, for instance.
Wong, 30, was drafted 22nd overall out of University of Hawaii at Manoa by the Cardinals in 2011. He’s been an above-average hitter twice in his career, with 108 wRC+ seasons in 2017 and ’19. Moving forward, I think offensive production right around league average can be expected from Wong.
Wong shines defensively, picking up a Gold Glove last year and showing strong marks in UZR, DRS, and outs above average. Still, I’m not convinced defense-first, second-base only players like Wong or Cesar Hernandez will do well in free agency. The Cardinals may try to retain Wong at a lesser rate, but otherwise the Red Sox, Angels, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Indians, Tigers, or Yankees could be fits.
Signed with Brewers for two years, $18MM.
26. Brad Hand – Astros. Two years, $14MM. Hand’s surprising foray into free agency may serve as the canary in the coal mine for a cratering free agent relief market, and perhaps for free agency as a whole. 31 in March, the southpaw reeled off a superb 2020 season with a 2.05 ERA (22nd in MLB), 33.7 K% (18th in MLB), and 4.7 BB% (11th in MLB). Since joining the Padres’ bullpen in an April 2016 waiver claim, Hand has posted 320 innings of 2.70 ERA ball, 10th in MLB among those with at least 200 innings. He made three All-Star teams during that time. The Padres traded Hand to the Indians in July 2018, and his success continued.
Hand’s $10MM club option for 2020 seemed like an easy call to exercise – even for the penny-pinching Indians, who could presumably trade the lefty later in the offseason. Instead, the Indians made efforts to trade Hand prior to the option decision coming due, and offers were so poor or non-existent that they placed him on outright waivers in an attempt to simply avoid his $1MM buyout. All 29 other teams still passed on Hand, which suggests they feel free agency (for relievers at the very least) will be a buyer’s market at levels well below years past. One element of teams passing on Hand may be a velocity drop this year, down to 91.4 miles per hour. Another might be a choice not to lock in a $10MM reliever – even a very good one – so early in the offseason. Regardless, it’s difficult to project aggressive bidding on any free agent reliever after perhaps Hendriks.
Signed with Nationals for one year, $10.5MM.
27. Trevor Rosenthal – Angels. Two years, $14MM. Rosenthal, 30, is one of the top relievers on the free agent market. No free agent throws harder than his 98.0 mile per hour average fastball. Among free agents with at least 20 innings this year, Rosenthal ranked sixth in MLB with a 41.8 K%, topped only by Jake McGee. Upon being traded to the Padres at the end of August, Rosenthal put up ten scoreless innings with 17 strikeouts, one walk, and only three hits. That magic wore off in the postseason, but it was still a stellar bounceback campaign.
A 21st round pick in 2009 by the Cardinals out of Cowley County Community College in Kansas, Rosenthal found immediate success as the Cardinals’ setup man, and ascended to closer in their march to the 2013 World Series. Rosenthal made the All-Star team in 2015, but battled injuries the following year and was removed from the closer role. An elbow injury surfaced in 2017, necessitating Tommy John surgery in August of that year. Rosenthal spent 2018 rehabbing without a team, signing a $7MM deal for 2019 with the Nationals. He struggled mightily for the Nats, earning his release by June. The Tigers and Yankees then each gave him a shot with no success.
It was under these circumstances that Rosenthal inked a minor league deal with the Royals in December, reuniting with old manager Mike Matheny and impressing the team in the initial version of spring training. His 14 appearances with the Royals went well enough that the Padres traded Edward Olivares — an MLB-ready, 45-grade outfield prospect — to rent him for September and the postseason. A qualifying offer may have been a long shot anyway, but Rosenthal is ineligible for one on account of the trade. A three-year deal may have been more likely for Rosenthal in a normal market, but he should still find a decent contract.
Signed with Athletics for one year, $11MM.
28. Trevor May – Giants. Two years, $14MM. May, 31, is one of the more desirable arms on the relief market this winter. His 39.6 K% ranked ninth among all MLB relievers, and fourth among free agents. He averages more than 96 miles per hour on his heater and generally shows good control. He is a fly-ball pitcher, and was touched up for a 1.93 HR/9 in the shortened season.
May was drafted out of high school by the Phillies in the fourth round in 2008 and traded to the Twins in the December 2012 Ben Revere deal. He underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2017, which he kindly agreed to write about here at MLBTR in posts here and here. May was able to successfully return from surgery in 2018 and post a 3.19 ERA over his next 113 innings with the Twins. He has the premium velocity, strong spin-rate and high whiff rate profile that analytical clubs value over raw saw numbers in free agency.
If the Twins let May leave, he figures to draw the interest of many teams, perhaps including the Angels, Astros, Blue Jays, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, Marlins, Mets, Nationals, Phillies, and White Sox. Like Rosenthal, he’d be pegged for a three-year deal in a normal offseason.
Signed with Mets for two years, $15.5MM.
29. Blake Treinen – Marlins. Two years, $14MM. Treinen, 32, was utterly dominant for the 2018 A’s, posting a 0.78 ERA in 80 1/3 innings and finishing in sixth place in the Cy Young voting. He battled a rotator cuff strain in 2019, his season ending early with a stress reaction in his back. After posting a 4.91 ERA and career-worst walk rate in ’19, the A’s declined to tender Treinen a contract through arbitration. The Dodgers picked him up on a one-year, $10MM free agent deal shortly thereafter.
Treinen provided good, but not great results for the Dodgers with a 3.86 ERA and 20.6 K% in 25 2/3 regular season innings. He did finish sixth among relievers with a career-best 64% groundball rate, and still throws 97 miles per hour on average. Treinen will find plenty of interest from teams like the Marlins, Phillies, Astros, Angels, Blue Jays, Cubs, Giants, Mariners, White Sox, and Red Sox if the Dodgers don’t bring him back.
Signed with Dodgers for two years, $17.5MM.
30. Tommy La Stella – Athletics. Two years, $14MM. An eighth round pick of the Braves in 2011 out of Coastal Carolina University, La Stella was traded to the Cubs in November 2014 for Arodys Vizcaino. La Stella posted a 104 wRC+ in 587 plate appearances in his four years with the Cubs, with most chances coming against right-handed pitching. After the ’18 season, the Cubs felt they were better off replacing La Stella with free agent Daniel Descalso. That proved incorrect, as the Angels gave La Stella regular playing time in 2019 and he made the All-Star team before fracturing his right tibia with a foul ball. His strong hitting continued this year, and La Stella was traded to the A’s in late August. He has a 125 wRC+ in 549 plate appearances over the last two years. That includes a 141 mark against right-handed pitching that ranks 18th in all of baseball and fourth among free agents.
La Stella is capable of playing both second and third base. He’d fit with many clubs if the A’s let him go, including all three of his other former teams plus the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Brewers, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Indians, Nationals, Yankees, and Tigers.
Signed with Giants for three years, $18.75MM.
31. Corey Kluber – Twins. One year, $12MM. Kluber had a Hall of Fame-worthy peak for the 2014-18 Indians, winning a pair of Cy Young awards while also finishing third twice and ninth once. His 30.3 WAR ranked third among all starting pitchers during that time, his 28.5 K% ranked fourth, and his 5.2 BB% ranked sixth. But Kluber, 35 in April, hit a wall in May of 2019 in suffering a non-displaced fracture of his right forearm from a line drive. He was pulled from a rehab start in August of that year due to an oblique strain, knocking him out for the season after only seven starts.
Facing a $17.5MM club option, the Indians traded Kluber to the Rangers in December 2019 for Emmanuel Clase and Delino DeShields. Unfortunately, Kluber’s Rangers debut in July lasted only one inning before he went down for a Grade 2 tear of the teres major muscle in his right shoulder, ending his season. With Kluber having pitched only 36 2/3 innings over the last two seasons, the Rangers declined their $18MM club option for 2021 and haven’t been able to work out a revised contract. Kluber’s free agency is variable depending entirely on his health. According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, he’s already been cleared for a normal offseason. Kluber would fit well with a contender seeking a potential big-game pitcher, that won’t necessarily rely on him for innings.
Signed with Yankees for one year, $11MM.
32. Yadier Molina – Cardinals. One year, $10MM. Molina, 38, is set to reach free agency for the first time in his storied 17-year career. He’s not quite ready to hang up his catcher’s gear and see if Cooperstown might come calling; he’s hoping to play for two more years and expressed a willingness to test out the open market if he can’t get something done with the Cardinals.
Short of a pursuit of J.T. Realmuto, it’s difficult to see why the Cardinals would let Molina go after two rings, nine Gold Gloves, nine All-Star appearances, 2,001 hits, and over 16,000 innings caught. For a player known mainly for his defense, Yadi has seven different seasons with a wRC+ above 100, including a peak of 132 from 2011-13. Even now, he’s not far below the league average catcher mark of 92. Molina remains an excellent defensive catcher and could be of interest to teams like the Yankees, Phillies, and Marlins if the Cardinals take a tough negotiating stance.
Signed with Cardinals for one year, $9MM.
33. Charlie Morton – Mets. One year, $8MM. Morton reaches free agency after having his $15MM club option declined by the Rays. The righty, 37 in November, had been a useful starter for the Pirates but experienced a late-career surge upon joining the Astros in 2017. With Houston, Morton’s average fastball velocity climbed up into the 95 mile per hour range, and his strikeout rate spiked. After the Astros chose not to issue a qualifying offer, Morton signed a two-year, $30MM free agent deal with the Rays and continued dealing in 2019. That year, he produced a 3.05 ERA in a career-best 194 2/3 innings, making his second All-Star team and finishing third in the AL Cy Young voting. For pitchers with at least 500 innings from 2017-19, Morton’s 28.7 K% ranked seventh in MLB.
This year, Morton was removed from an August start due to shoulder inflammation and spent several weeks on the IL. Even putting the two limited starts around that injury aside, Morton averaged fewer than five innings per start in 2020. Despite solid peripherals, his ERA landed at 4.74 on the season, owed in part to a .355 BABIP. He made an additional four starts in the playoffs this year, pitching well until the Dodgers got to him in Game 3 of the World Series.
Morton could be a hot commodity in free agency, but he was picky last time around and has suggested retirement is a possibility.
Signed with Braves for one year, $15MM.
34. Jurickson Profar – Tigers. One year, $7MM. Profar brings the appeal of age and prospect pedigree. 28 in February, the Curacao native was widely considered the best prospect in baseball prior to the 2013 season. Putting him on the cover of their Prospect Handbook, Baseball America gushed, “Few prospects represent a safer bet to develop into a first-division regular and All-Star than Profar.”
Profar played around the infield in that 2013 season, and was expected to open 2014 as the Rangers’ starting second baseman after they had traded Ian Kinsler. Instead, Profar wouldn’t appear in a Major League game again until May 2016, a gap of two years and eight months. He suffered a torn shoulder muscle in March 2014, aggravating the injury in May. After a platelet-rich plasma injection in September, Profar was expected to be ready for 2015. However, by February 2015, labrum surgery was deemed necessary.
In 2018, for the first time, a 25-year-old Profar played a full season in the bigs. He spent time at all four infield positions, posting a 107 wRC+ and career-best 2.8 WAR. After the season, the Rangers shipped Profar to the A’s in a three-team deal. Plugged in as the A’s regular second baseman, Profar managed a 105 wRC+ after a brutal first month. His salary continuing to rise through arbitration, the A’s shipped Profar to San Diego in the offseason for a pair of prospects. Padres GM A.J. Preller had familiarity with Profar from his time in charge of the Rangers’ Latin American scouting.
Profar started the 2020 season as the Padres’ second baseman, but was quickly supplanted by rookie Jake Cronenworth and moved to left field. Profar’s streakiness at the plate continued, as he was terrible through August 10th and went on to post a 135 wRC+ in 146 plate appearances thereafter. That run was the result of a .342 BABIP, with Statcast finding few positives in Profar’s season.
Profar may have been the game’s best prospect eight years ago, but now he’s a 110 wRC+ hitter in the best case and a man without a position. Some teams might like the switch-hitter for a utility role, but he may be able to find a starting job on a second division club. The Tigers, Twins, Cardinals, Cubs, Indians, Nationals, Red Sox, Royals, and Yankees could be options.
Signed with Padres for three years, $21MM with two opt-outs.
35. Adam Wainwright – Cardinals. One year, $6MM. Wainwright, 39, joins fellow Cardinals legend Yadier Molina in free agency. Drafted 29th overall by the Braves in 2000, Wainwright joined the Cardinals in the December 2003 J.D. Drew trade. After a rookie season in relief culminating in what Derrick Goold called “the curve that froze New York,” Wainwright authored a seven-season stretch as one of the best starting pitchers in baseball, despite being interrupted by Tommy John surgery in February 2011. Despite the missed season, Wainwright ranked ninth among starting pitchers with 31.4 WAR from 2007-14. He picked up plenty of hardware during that time, including three All-Star nods and four top-three Cy Young finishes. Wainwright may fall short of the Hall of Fame, but not by a lot.
Wainwright has shown staying power in the second phase of his career despite missing most of 2018 due to an elbow injury. He had a solid season in 2019 with 31 starts of 4.19 ball, and this year he ranked fourth in MLB with 6.52 innings per game started and 18th with a 3.15 ERA. Wainwright would like to stay in St. Louis, and there’s no reason the Cardinals shouldn’t make it happen unless ownership’s budgetary restrictions are even tighter than we realize at the moment.
Signed with Cardinals for one year, $8MM.
36. Robbie Ray – Brewers. One year, $6MM. Ray, a 29-year-old lefty, ranked sixth on my MLB Free Agent Power Rankings before the season, ahead of Marcus Stroman. Needless to say, the abbreviated 2020 season did not go well for Ray. He walked 20.1% of batters faced in his first seven starts for the Diamondbacks, continuing to struggle after being traded to the Blue Jays at the deadline.
A 12th round pick by the Nationals out of Brentwood High School in Tennessee in 2010, Ray was traded to the Tigers in December 2013 for Doug Fister. He was on the move again a year later, joining the Diamondbacks in the three-team deal that netted the Shane Greene for the Tigers and Didi Gregorius for the Yankees.
Despite shaky control, Ray pitched well in Arizona. From 2016-19, Ray struck out 30.8% of batters faced, fourth in MLB among those with at least 600 innings during that time. He also walked 10.9% of batters faced – dead last among qualified MLB starters. The result was a decent pitcher with flashes of brilliance, peaking with an All-Star 2017 season that netted Ray a seventh-place Cy Young finish. Ray does allow his share of hard-hit balls, ranking in the bottom 8% in average exit velocity in four of his last six seasons. He’s now an interesting free agent project, perhaps for a team with enough alternatives to not have to rely on him.
Signed with Blue Jays for one year, $8MM.
37. Cesar Hernandez – Diamondbacks. One year, $6MM. Hernandez, 30, became the Phillies’ regular second baseman in July of 2015, replacing Chase Utley. Hernandez proved a durable, solid replacement, ranking seventh among second basemen in 2016-17 with 6.4 WAR. Hernandez’s bat slipped below league average in 2018-19, but he kept his job and played in all but two games during that period. Due a raise on his $7.75MM salary, the Phillies chose to non-tender Hernandez after the 2019 season.
The Indians scooped Hernandez up for $6.25MM, and he rewarded them with a 108 wRC+ in 261 plate appearances. Hernandez’s second base defense also graded well, resulting in a 1.9 WAR season that ranks fifth among all free agents. He’s a high-contact hitter whose walk rate has dropped in the last two seasons, but he’s still able to get on base by hitting around .280. Defensively, he’s strictly a second baseman. If the Indians don’t retain him, the Diamondbacks, Angels, Athletics, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Cubs, Red Sox, Royals, Tigers, and Yankees could be options.
Signed with Indians for one year, $5MM.
38. Carlos Santana – Brewers. One year, $6MM. Santana, 35 in April, led the AL with 47 walks this year. Otherwise, his batting average and power cratered, resulting in a career-worst 95 wRC+ in 255 plate appearances. In 2019, Santana was one of the best first basemen in baseball, with 34 home runs, a 135 wRC+, and 4.4 WAR. That performance resulted in his first All-Star appearance, a Silver Slugger award, and even MVP votes.
Santana’s extensive body of work, primarily with the Indians, suggests there’s a solid possibility of a 110-120 wRC+ bounceback season in 2021. The Brewers, Nationals, and Rockies could be potential fits.
Signed with Royals for two years, $17.5MM.
39. Alex Colome – White Sox. One year, $6MM. Colome, 32 in December, has served as the closer for the White Sox for the past two seasons after coming over in a November 2018 trade with the Mariners. It was an interesting season for Colome, who allowed just two earned runs in 22 1/3 innings despite striking out fewer than 18% of batters faced and walking nearly 9% of them. His keys to success were allowing zero home runs and a .200 batting average on balls in play on the season. Those figures are hardly repeatable, but Colome has an excellent 2020 Statcast profile in terms of exit velocity, hard hit rate, and barrel rate.
Colome has at times missed bats, including 31.4% of batters faced in an All-Star 2016 season for the Rays. He demonstrated excellent control in that same campaign. Colome has a 2.95 career ERA over 424 innings despite a SIERA of 3.85, so perhaps there’s weak contact for which he deserves credit. That didn’t show up in Statcast in 2019, however, when his average exit velocity was in the bottom 2% of the league. 10 or 20 years ago, a closer coming off a 0.81 ERA season would do quite well in free agency. These days, however, Colome doesn’t exactly have the profile teams like, so interest may be scattered.
Signed with Twins for one year, $6.25MM.
40. Mike Minor – Angels. One year, $6MM. Minor, 33 in December, began his career with several solid seasons for the Braves before missing all of 2015 and ’16 due to shoulder surgery. After a strong comeback season out of the Royals’ bullpen, Minor signed a three-year, $28MM deal with the Rangers and returned to a starting role. Minor put up a strong pair of seasons in 2018-19, working to a 3.84 ERA in 365 1/3 innings. He was a top-30 starter in baseball during that time, making his first All-Star team and finishing eighth in the Cy Young voting in ’19.
Minor lost two miles per hour off his fastball in 2020, however, and struggled to a 5.56 ERA for the Rangers and A’s. Even with the reduced velocity, Minor was able to miss some bats with an above average 25.9 K%. He’s also managed 71 starts since the beginning of 2018, a feat only five other free agent starters topped. He’ll be a useful addition to the back end of a rotation.
Signed with Royals for two years, $18MM.
41. J.A. Happ – Mariners. One year, $6MM. Happ, a 14-year MLB veteran, was drafted in the third round in 2004 out of Northwestern by the Phillies. The lefty was something of a late bloomer, with his best work coming after age 32. Happ, now 38, joined the Yankees in a July 2018 trade with the Blue Jays and inked a two-year, $34MM deal to stay there for 2019-20.
Happ’s Yankees contract included a vesting option at 165 innings or 27 starts in 2020, pro-rated to 10 starts or 61 1/3 innings due to the shortened season. In comments to reporters in late August, Happ implied that he felt the Yankees were intentionally trying to avoid his vesting option. GM Brian Cashman disagreed. Regardless of the team’s intent, Happ wound up making nine starts on the season and has reached free agency. Though he managed a 3.47 ERA this year, he has a 4.68 SIERA dating back to 2019, including a 1.79 HR/9 rate. Happ’s All-Star 2018 season isn’t too far in the rearview, however, and he’ll make a solid back of the rotation piece. His case is bolstered somewhat by Statcast, with 65th percentile hard hit rate and 75th percentile barrel rate this year.
Signed with Twins for one year, $8MM.
42. Kirby Yates – Padres. One year, $5MM. Like Liam Hendriks, there was a time a few years ago where Yates making an All-Star team or getting Cy Young votes seemed highly unlikely. Yates, 34 in March, was drafted by the Red Sox in the 26th round out of Kauai High School in Hawaii in 2005. He opted not to sign, choosing to pitch at Yavapai College in Arizona. He had Tommy John surgery while there, and ended up signing after college with the Rays as an undrafted free agent.
Five years later, Yates reached the Majors with the Rays at age 27. After a rough 2015 season that saw him allow 10 home runs in 20 1/3 innings, Yates was designated for assignment in the offseason. The Indians acquired him for cash considerations, but designated him for assignment about a month later. Then the Yankees traded for him, and he posted a 5.23 ERA in 41 1/3 innings. The Angels claimed him off waivers in October 2016, and after they designated him the following April, he went unclaimed by the other 29 teams. He cracked the Halos’ 40-man for a brief period before being designated for assignment again, at which point the Padres claimed him off waivers. That’s when things started to click. Yates just kept getting better for the Padres, culminating in a dominant 2019 season: 1.19 ERA, 41 saves, 41.6 K%, and 5.3 BB%. That season netted Yates an All-Star appearance and a ninth place finish in the Cy Young voting.
In August of this year, Yates hit the IL with elbow inflammation and ultimately had surgery to remove two bone chips. While Yates was only able to pitch 4 1/3 innings this year, the surgery sounded relatively minor, and with a clean bill of health he’ll be a hot commodity on the free agent market. The Giants, Astros, Blue Jays, Cubs, Dodgers, Mariners, Mets, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, and White Sox could make sense if the Padres don’t retain him.
Signed with Blue Jays for one year, $5.5MM.
43. Greg Holland – Mariners. One years, $5MM. Holland, 35 in November, had a dominant run for the 2011-14 Royals. He posted a 1.86 ERA and 12.6 K/9 in 256 1/3 innings over those four seasons, making the All-Star team in 2013 and ’14 and finishing ninth in the Cy Young voting both years. Though Holland was a huge part of the Royals’ success, his 2015 season ended with a UCL tear and he was not able to take part in the Royals’ championship run. With 2016 lost to his Tommy John recovery, the Royals non-tendered Holland. He signed a $7MM free agent deal with the Rockies heading into 2017.
Holland made the All-Star team and saved 41 games for those Rockies, declining both a $15MM player option and subsequent $17.4MM qualifying offer from Colorado. The qualifying offer resulted in Holland taking a late March deal from the Cardinals in 2018 for $14MM. After his late start to the season, Holland’s time with St. Louis was disastrous, and he was designated for assignment in July. He hooked on with the Nationals, returning to form and resulting in a $3.25MM free agent deal with Arizona for 2019. Holland walked a career-worst 15.8% of batters faced for the D’Backs as he lost the closer role in July and his average fastball velocity dropped all the way down to 91.6. By August, Holland had been designated for assignment again, and he again signed with the Nats – this time failing to return to the Majors.
Holland made it back to the Royals for 2020, as the team also inked Trevor Rosenthal for a pair of savvy minor league signings. Aside from an oblique strain, it was an excellent bounceback season for Holland as he struck out nearly 28% of batters faced and walked a career-best 6.3%. He didn’t rate particularly well in Statcast measures, but Holland’s 2020 results and closer reputation may be enough for a two-year deal.
Signed with Royals for one year, $2.75MM.
44. Drew Smyly – Giants. One year, $5MM. Smyly was a major piece of the return when the Rays sent David Price to Detroit at the 2014 trade deadline. He made a career-high 30 starts in 2016, albeit with a 4.88 ERA. Smyly was dealt to the Mariners the following offseason and pitched in the World Baseball Classic, but he ended up needing Tommy John surgery in July that year and never pitched in an official game for Seattle. The Mariners cut him loose that winter and the Cubs inked him to a two-year, $10MM deal with an eye on rotation depth for 2019. Instead, the club picked up Cole Hamels’ option and shipped Smyly to the Rangers to save money, making the Cubs another team that employed Smyly but never used him on a Major League mound.
After going two and a half years between MLB starts, Smyly made his Rangers debut on April 1, 2019. His time in Texas went terribly, and they released him in late June. After a few appearances for the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate, Smyly hooked on with the Phillies and joined their rotation in late July. His dozen starts with the Phillies were good enough to net him a one-year, $4MM deal with the Giants.
Smyly made three appearances this year, then hit the IL for a strained left finger. He returned over a month later to make four September outings. We have only 26 1/3 innings to go on in total, but Smyly was able to strike out 37.8% of batters faced, 12th in MLB. Over his past 89 innings, Smyly has worked to a 4.15 ERA with a 29.4 K%. There may be something interesting here, though Statcast metrics from this year aren’t promising. The 31-year-old southpaw should still draw solid interest in free agency.
Signed with Braves for one year, $11MM.
45. Jon Lester – Braves. One year, $5MM. Lester, a 15-year veteran, comes with a long list of accolades. From 2008-16, his 37.3 WAR ranked eighth in MLB. He’s made five All-Star teams, and finished top four in the Cy Young voting three times. Dependable as they come, Lester made at least 31 starts in every season from 2008-19. He’s got three World Series rings – two with the Red Sox, one with the Cubs.
After a successful run in Boston to begin his career, the Red Sox traded Lester to the A’s with free agency approaching. After that 2014 season, the Cubs signed him to a six-year, $155MM contract. The Cubs got their money’s worth, having received 17.1 WAR from Lester. More importantly, Lester provided a 2.02 ERA in 35 2/3 postseason innings in the Cubs’ championship run in 2016.
Though the Cubs paid a $10MM buyout on Lester’s $25MM option for 2021, they could certainly bring him back at a lower rate. Otherwise, the Braves or Red Sox could be interesting options for the southpaw, who turns 37 in January.
Signed with Nationals for one year, $5MM.
46. Rick Porcello – Tigers. One year, $5MM. Porcello, 32 in December, is a 12-year MLB veteran who has seen his share of ups and downs. He took home the AL Cy Young award in 2016 for the Red Sox, yet has never made an All-Star team or topped 3.0 WAR in any other season. He was on pace for over 4.5 WAR in 2020, finishing with a 1.7 mark that was second only to Trevor Bauer among free agent starting pitchers. Of course, FanGraphs WAR is based on the Fielding Independent Pitching stat (FIP), which ignores the fact that Porcello allowed 11.3 hits per nine innings – third-worst among qualified starters. The end result was a 5.64 ERA in 2020.
Porcello allowed a .373 batting average on balls in play over 59 innings, likely a fluke in that the Mets allowed a .316 BABIP overall, fourth-worst in MLB and Porcello has a career mark of .308. To be fair, the 7.6 HR/fly-ball rate that led to the best home run rate of Porcello’s career was a fluke as well. In the end, Porcello is a 4.30-type ERA guy who can take the ball every fifth day and avoid the free pass better than most. The Phillies, Angels, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Giants, Nationals, Red Sox, Rockies, and Tigers could make sense.
47. Cole Hamels – Padres. One year, $4MM. From 2007-15, Hamels ranked sixth among all MLB pitchers with 39.3 WAR. That period, mostly with the Phillies, included four top-eight Cy Young finishes and three All-Star appearances. Hamels, 37 in December, continued to put in solid work in the second phase of his career with the Rangers and Cubs. Until 2020, Hamels had started at least 24 games in 13 consecutive seasons. He was good for a 3.92 ERA from 2017-19.
Upon reaching free agency last winter, Hamels sought a one-year deal with a contender and found it with an $18MM contract with Atlanta. He irritated his shoulder in a February workout, but was expected to be ready once the season’s start was pushed to late July. Instead, he came down with triceps tendinitis and started the year on the 45-day IL. He returned for one 52-pitch start in mid-September, and then went on the IL again with shoulder fatigue. Now, much like Kluber, Hamels’ free agency prospects hinge on his medical report.
48. Mark Melancon – Braves. One year, $4MM. Melancon, 36 in March, was a ninth round pick of the Yankees out of the University of Arizona in 2006. He headed to the Astros in the July 2010 Lance Berkman trade, establishing himself as a solid closer in 2011. Melancon then joined the Red Sox in the December 2011 Jed Lowrie deal. After a rough year in Boston, the Red Sox made a move for Joel Hanrahan, shipping Melancon to the Pirates. Melancon had his greatest success in Pittsburgh, working to a 1.80 ERA over 260 1/3 innings with 130 saves in three-plus seasons while making the All-Star team three times.
The Nationals acquired Melancon near the 2016 trade deadline, sending Felipe Vazquez to the Pirates in return. Melancon’s 30 games for the Nats went well, and he parlayed his success into a four-year, $62MM free agent deal with the Giants – a record for a reliever at the time. The contract did not pan out for the Giants. Melancon struggled in 2017, culminating in elbow surgery in September of that year. Melancon pitched decently for the Giants after that, and San Francisco surprisingly found a team willing to take on the entire remainder of his contract in the Braves.
In his 43 2/3 innings with Atlanta, Melancon managed a 3.30 ERA, 20.7 K%, 4.9 BB%, and 61.4% groundball rate. Groundballs are Melancon’s calling card, as he’s second among MLB relievers since 2019 in that regard. He misses fewer bats than the average reliever, and he’s never lit up the radar gun. Batters do struggle to square him up, based on Statcast, and a two-year deal is possible.
Signed with Padres for one year, $3MM.
49. Anthony Desclafani – Red Sox. One year, $4MM. DeSclafani, 31 in April, was a sixth round pick of the Blue Jays out of the University of Florida in 2011. They shipped him to the Marlins in November 2012 in Miami’s big Mark Buehrle-Josh Johnson-Jose Reyes-John Buck salary dump trade. Two years later, DeSclafani headed to the Reds in a trade for Mat Latos.
DeSclafani won a rotation job for the Reds out of camp in 2015, producing 31 starts of 4.05 ERA ball on the season. He opened the following season with a long IL stint for an oblique strain, debuting on June 10th and putting up a 3.28 ERA in 20 starts. DeSclafani was diagnosed with a UCL sprain in March of 2017 and wound up missing the entire season. He started off 2018 with another oblique strain, again delaying his debut until June.
In 2019, DeSclafani was able to avoid the IL, resulting in his best season since 2015. Though prone to the longball, DeSclafani posted a career-best 24% K rate with his typical strong control. But like many pitchers toward the back end of this list, 2020 wound up a lost season for DeSclafani. He opened the season on the IL with a mild right teres major strain and struggled all season, getting bumped from the rotation in September and left off the Reds’ roster for the Wild Card Series. One thing that did not suffer was DeSclafani’s velocity, a career-best 94.9 miles per hour in 2020. He’ll serve as a solid reclamation project for 2021.
Signed with Giants for one year, $6MM.
50. Chris Archer – Cubs. One year, $4MM. Archer had a strong run of five-plus seasons for the Rays. He tantalized with a fifth-place Cy Young finish in 2015 as a 26-year-old, but his results never quite matched his peripheral stats in the ensuing seasons. At the 2018 trade deadline, the Rays sent Archer to the Pirates for Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, and Shane Baz, a lopsided deal that may live in infamy. For the Pirates, Archer delivered 172 innings of 4.92 ball, missing all of 2020 due to June surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. Even at age 32, Archer is a starting pitcher teams can dream on a little bit if his recovery goes well.
Signed with Rays for one year, $6.5MM.
- Shane Greene
- Jake McGee – signed with Giants for two years, $7MM
- Matt Moore – signed with Phillies for one year, $3MM
- Jonathan Schoop – signed with Tigers for one year, $4.5MM
- Jeremy Jeffress – signed minor league deal with Nationals
- Robbie Grossman – signed with Tigers for two years, $10MM
- Kevin Pillar – signed with Mets for one year, $5MM
- Adam Eaton – signed with White Sox for one year, $7MM
- Brett Gardner – signed with Yankees for one year, $4MM
- Martin Perez – signed with Red Sox for one year, $5MM
- Jonathan Villar – signed with Mets for one year, $3.55MM
- Brad Miller – signed with Phillies for one year, $3.5MM
- Joakim Soria – signed with Diamondbacks for one year, $3.5MM
- Darren O’Day – signed with Yankees for one year, $2.5MM
- Brandon Kintzler – signed minor league deal with Phillies
- Tomoyuki Sugano – signed with Yomiuri Giants for four years, $40MM
Notable deals for unlisted/non-tendered players:
- Enrique Hernandez – signed with Red Sox for two years, $14MM
- Pedro Baez – signed with Astros for two years, $12.5MM
- Kyle Schwarber – signed with Nationals for one year, $10MM
- Eddie Rosario – signed with Indians for one year, $8MM
- Ken Giles – signed with Mariners for two years, $7MM
- Kohei Arihara – signed with Rangers for two years, $6.2MM
- Jake Arrieta – signed with Cubs for one year, $6MM
- Archie Bradley – signed with Phillies for one year, $6MM
- Anthony Bass – signed with Marlins for two years, $5MM
- Adam Duvall – signed with Marlins for one year, $5MM
We realize that a Top 50 Free Agents list with one set of specific team predictions will leave some fanbases dissatisfied. A few notes to keep in mind:
- Most teams will meet some needs through trades and free agents who fell short of this list.
- The Indians, Orioles, Pirates, Rays, Rockies, and Royals did not end up with any free agents from this list. Certainly they might be in play on some of the more affordable names.
- With this list, we try to present one possible puzzle where everything could happen. Once we start to get picks wrong, it has a ripple effect.
- While some teams’ key needs have gone unaddressed, we wouldn’t recommend reading into it. There are plenty of potential big names on the trade market, including Francisco Lindor, Kris Bryant, and Lance Lynn.
- While we try to make spending capacity estimates for each of the 30 teams as part of this exercise, those change quickly with trades, non-tender decisions, and unexpected payroll changes. Many teams will use the pandemic as a reason to slash payroll, but we don’t know the details of those plans yet.
This post was originally published on 11-2-20.
Color me skeptical on most of these
Seeing some of these figures and it’s hard to feel bad for MLBPA. 6 million dollars to Haap when he straight up quit during a playoff game because he didn’t want to come out of the pen. Stroman straight up lied to fans and about his injury but will get rewarded. Bauer getting 32 per despite only have one excellent season to his resume which came to 11 starts. Can’t wait for MLBPA to cry poverty after the way they treat the fans
That’s what I thought about haap did give up in the playoffs just like another game in the season. He was mad that he knew for sure he wasn’t received that vesting option.i thought I was alone with these thoughts.
Man, if you can’t wait to hear MLBPA cry poverty I can’t wait to see what you do when owners cry poverty, especially when at least half of the teams didn’t even try to put rears in the seats.
Players, on the whole, haven’t had a raise in 5 years, and yet the league made billions, just on TV alone.
It is my sincerest hope that players go on strike at the end of the CBA until owners meet the demand of 55% of all revenue, an upgraded minimum salary and a minimum payroll of $100M per team.
It’s just too bad that Tony Clark represents the players because I question whether he does have the players interest at heart.
I think minimums salary is reasonable. I also think 100:million payroll is reasonable. As far as 55% of revenue ….. no way, theyre employees not partners.
lest you forget.. the other pardners in the deal are the Public who funds the stadiums.. we want what we paid for.. the best baseball money can buy.. generated out of our funding stadiums..and I’m tired of owners making billions and not living up to their promises … pay the players build teams.. like you promised..
wait till you find out how much the owners make!
Wait until YOU see how much money the owners had to invest to be in a position to make money.
Very little year to year actually. The great majority of the value in a team is the ownership of the team itself and that isn’t exactly liquid.
The Po’lad family paid approximately 45 mil. for the twins in 1984.. in 2009 the team was worth approximately 350 million… after years of income from a publicly financed stadium ( HHH Dome) … in 2020 the estimated value of the twins was 1.3 BILLION dollars again all thanks to a new stadium ( Target Field 2010) and public financing.. the notion that they have invested their money is carp.. their money has come from public subsidy… that value reflects the public investment…
@belkiolle It’s extremely liquid. Owners easily, readily borrow hundreds of millions of dollars with their teams as collateral.
Its the owners crying poverty even though the players took on all of the $2.3 billion drop in revenue in 2020 owners are claiming with the salary reductions they took.
The owners will get $70 million each in additional revenue from new national TV contracts next season. They have absolutely no excuse for not opening their wallets and paying these guys.
Remember, there would still be baseball without these owners, there would not be MLB level baseball without the players. The players skillsets are at a level that they cannot be replaced. There are lots of people with money that could buy the teams or start a new league. 630 billionaires in the US alone.
So for people that sent their predictions the first day they could and never changed them, if they accurately picked Robbie Ray back to the Blue Jays, Marcus Stroman back to the Mets and Kevin Gausman back to the Giants, do those votes count for them even though they didn’t count for people who sent their votes in later? And if they don’t count, what about Robbie Grossman, Brett Gardner and Brad Miller? Do the correct Ray/Stroman/Gausman votes all get replaced by misses since they never voted on the three guys they added to replace them? Can someone help me out with this? I am trying to understand because I have people telling me they accurately voted for Ray, Stroman and Gausman and those people truly believe those votes counted for them. They never went back and checked after those guys signed so they never even realized that Grossman, Gardner and Miller had been added to the contest so they never voted for them. If anyone can let me know I would really appreciate it.
Happ quit?! Seriously?
Of course. You’d always choose “the field” over any one team signing one free agent other than obvious ones like Yadi and Waino staying with the Cardinals for one more season.
FredMcGriff for the HOF
Morton to the Mets? I’m laughing right now. He’s either going back to the Rays or possibly Braves.
Odorizzi, Paxton, T Walker, Tanaka. All these guys are ahead of Morton on this list. The Dierkes says “Morton is picky”, yet he’s going to take $8MM from the Mets? He’ll go to Atlanta before NY.
Is this real?
Yeah I had trouble with many of these suggestions. NYY can’t piece together 4/68 for LaMahieu but they’re going to give 1/12 to Simmons? Your Morton point is spot on. Only way he takes 1/8 from the Mets is if he really still wants to play and no one else makes him an offer.
Did anybody think he was going to the Rays 2 years ago? He is a northeastern guy, born in Jersey.
Now his family lives in Fl or Georgia I believe. He said he wanted to be close to home So yeah, TB made sense. The Q was would they fork the money over. They did
Seattle brings back Walker not Happ. They have money to spend if they want. No need to sign an older player when they can sign a younger guy who pitches well here and fits in with the other pitchers.
Why on Earth would Morton sign with the Mets?
In fact, if you genuinely believe he’d be open to somewhere not in Florida, why on Earth do you have the Braves grabbing Lester for $5 mil when they could have Morton for $8 mil
I also don’t know how Morton is way down at #33 on the list in the first place
Plus so many other head scratchers on this list. Gotta be one of the worst FA predictions list MLBTR has ever posted
I’m sure you could do sooo much better.
Morton has been as good or better than every pitcher listed ahead of him on this list over the last four years (Stroman and Bauer may have a case). If you want to take 2020 as a true gauge of where he would be with a normal off season I think it’s probably a mistake.
Great work guys. I was wondering if the pandemic will lower the overall financial pot that teams have to spend and there by players get paid much less? Unless you are the Yankees or Dodgers etc.
Real skeptical on most
No love for Mitchy2Bags?
No love fore Kike as well
Marlins should be all over Kike
A lot of teams will be, I think.
You guys do a great job, and I love this. But Bauer to the Dodgers is the dumbest thing I will read this month, and I have full confidence saying that on the 2nd day of this month. They have no need of spending that kind of money, they have too many of their own players they will want to lock up before spending that kind of money, their rotation is flush, and they are going to want to get under the tax line. Not happening, not even close. Wrong LA team.
Agree with you here, I could see the Dodgers taking a 1 year flier on Kluber before spending big bucks on Bauer. The Angels need him much worse after whiffing on Cole last offseason
I predict Kluber to LAD
Chief Two Hands
The Angels have needed to improve their rotation for years, but have foolishly spent money elsewhere. Their need isn’t the issue. The issue is their poor judgment. I don’t see any reason to believe that will suddenly change, and I don’t see Bauer having a desire to sign with a perennial loser. I’m not saying the Dodgers will pursue him, but Bauer will likely have much better options than the Angels, if they wake up and attempt to address that mediocre rotation.
It might sound crazy, but with a rotation of Kershaw, May, Urias, Gonsolin. and Buehler, one could argue that Bauer, based off of only two good seasons, could conceivably be the worst of them.
Seriously, which of those guys would the LAD send to the BP? The answer has to be ‘none of them’.
All three of them conceivably especially come stretch run/ playoffs. I don’t think they’ll sign Bauer, but I also don’t think those guys will go post to post. They all performed well in a 62 game season, but just in terms of pitching development they really aren’t stretched or close to stretched at the mlb level to assume they’d make 25+ starts. Like always they’ll target that arm at the deadline.
May and Gonsolin still have to prove themselves. They still need a lot of polish.
Definitely serviceable and May has really good upside but Bauer in my opinion is a significant upgrade over those two in 2021.. Kershaw had a great season but is in decline. Price could be in an even steeper decline and didn’t pitch at all in 2020. Buehler and Urias are legit, and if both can command the strike zone better they’re lights out.
La Dodgers also will have David Price in 2021, but your point is still correct.
Only chance at Bauer to the Dodgers is if he actually wants to take a 1 year deal.
Right. I realize these predications are sort of a game within a game, but Bauer and the Dodgers should not even be found in the same sentence. Money isn’t the issue, it’s finding a place in the rotation for another starter. Add to that, Bauer isn’t exactly the kind of personality profile the Dodgers like. The main need for the Dodger in the postseason will be the bullpen, where they will be losing two righties and one lefty to free agency. Connect them to all the quality arms available in that department and maybe you win the prediction game.
Also surprised that Pedro Baez didn’t even make the honorable mention list. Not a big fan of his work but the numbers are still good enough,
Meh, Dodgers passed the Puig test. Momentum media would welcome the Hollyweird upgrade.
the dodgers had Puig and even worse, machado on the team.
I think Bauer would pass their personality test just fine
Machado was a rental who they did not want back, and they traded Puig, after many attempts at shopping him. Not saying it’s a hard and fast rule, but they seem to prefer players who don’t make their personalties the topic of conversation. Just another reason to cast doubt this prediction. One of many.
Bauer has openly said that he wants to be a Dodger. If they want him and are serious about retaining his services, I think it’s a done deal.
Since when did wishes become fishes?
The Dodgers go into next season with a rotation of Kershaw, Buehler, Urias, Price, and either or both of Gonsolin and May. Do you see any daylight there?
Do Gonsolin and May gage options? It generally takes 8+ starters to get through a year and the Dodgers will need bullpen help.
Having one of those guys in AAA as next man up and May as long reliever would be an embarrassment of riches. but one LA could afford for a year before losing Price.
It could take more bodies to get through a complete season, but they’ve got some of them in the minors already, and any additions are likely to be at the bottom end of the rotation, preferably someone who they can option. This is the way they usually play it. I just don’t see Bauer as that player.
That would amount to paying Bauer a gazllion $$$ for the luxury of having Gonsolin in AAA. It just makes no sense. Especially since they are not completely set in the BP, probably don’t completely trust Jansen, and lost Treinen.
Dodgers will likely look to fill the bullpen without breaking the bank. Look at when they have spent the money on relievers under Friedman. Jansen 5 years $80 million, overall a bad contract. They had to pay him after he put up some great seasons but clearly he hasn’t lived up to the contract. Joe Kelly’s contract is pretty bad too. He is just simply not reliable for high leverage. Doesn’t have command of his pitches. 3 year $25 million was a bad contract. Treinen had a solid season and was one of the pitchers Roberts leaned on but I would say that he didn’t live up to his 1 year $10 million contract.
They were in it for Gerrit Cole. Probably a Dodger if not for the Yankees. If Friedman and staff like Bauer he could be a Dodger. on a one year deal. I don’t think that you can constantly rely on your farm system to produce successful MLB-ready starting pitchers. For every Buehler and Urias, and eventually May, there are going to be lots of busts. Rotation can be Bauer, Buehler, Urias, Kershaw and Price. May can be the sixth starter hybrid. Gonsolin bullpen. Still probably unlikely but don’t think it would be the worst thing in the world to get Bauer on a one-year deal.
The problem is you are predicating this on a contract that is probably two or three years short of the one he is likely to get, and if for some reason Bauer agreed to such a thing it sure does nothing to reduce their reliance on the farm system.
Gonsolin had an era under 1 most of this season
May throws 101 as a starter. They will not be the AAA filler. That is Josiah Gray, maybe White, etc. not guys who already held a spot down and performed. More likely Kluber is aaa filler than those 2 guys.
If la spends, it will be relief pitching and JT
Bauer works in LA if you like Dustin May and/or Tony Gonsolin as lockdown relievers. Makes more sense and costs a lot less to simply just sign more relievers though.
I truly don’t know where Bauer might end up. This FA figures to be a crazy one. The Yankees are the most obvious choice for Bauer but with the G Cole rivalry that’s a 1 in a million shot. We’ve already seen a shutdown reliever like Brad Hand deemed to not be worth 10 million bucks. Who the hell knows what happens this year.
I certainly don’t. But if Brad Hand can’t get 1/10 I bet you Joc Pederson can’t get a 2/18. That stood out to me on this list.
Just thinking of ways to make the team better in 2021. I think they will need to be better to win in 2021, and have some luck in playoffs. Padres will be better. Same for the Braves. Bauer on a one-year deal is a longshot but he has talked about betting on himself. You’d have to pay up for that one year but at least you’re not tied up to a long-term deal that could end badly. Probably doesn’t make sense since you still have to pay Mookie and Clayton. Would have made more sense if Clayton was on his walk year and Dodgers decided to part ways. You can rely on your farm system but just saying that it doesn’t always end up the way you think it’s going to happen. May has tons of physical ability and Gonsolin has showed some success but both are over very small sample sizes. About 100 innings. Not the worst thing in the world to have May be the 6th starter and Gonsolin work in the bullpen until he gets more polish.
Bauer says many things.
Totally agree.. Between Price, Kershaw, Urias, May, Walker and Gonsolin, the Dodgers have more than enough pitching and will not pursue Bauer. I mean it will make for a feel good story with him growing up in SoCal as a Ddogers fan but he is not needed. He will command a considerable salary and I see the Padres, Angels and Yankees leading the bidding war for his services. Dodgers just need to fill a few relief options and maybe a bet off the bench or 2. .
Not to mention they’re going to want to look at Mitch White, Josiah Gray, and Dennis Santana and see what they can do.
Not saying they would go after Bauer, but the Dodgers had two bullpen games in the World Series. One they lost and one Tampa Bay lost for them. You have to think that as smart as Andrew Friedman is he was not happy to have “all that starting pitching” and end up with that much uncertainty in the WS.. They were willing to spend big for a couple of years of Bryce Harper, they may be interested in helping Bauer overtake his “friend” Cole on a AAV basis for a year or two. Bauer’s not going to get a $300M contract. But he might get $73M for two years in this market.
If the Dodgers had either (1) as many off days before the series as the Rays, or (2) David Price on the roster, they would not have needed those bullpen games.
Like rainbirdmuse above, I’m not saying the Dodgers will aggressively pursue Bauer (if at all). But to say the Dodgers don’t “need” Bauer is silly, considering the state of their staff as seen just days ago.
Buehler is an unquestioned ace, but behind him, there’s little certainty to any of it. Kershaw is in decline, and while he’s still good, that’s all he is: good, and shouldn’t be the #2 of a team with WS aspirations, one year older than now. Price may be serviceable, but having not pitched in a year (and not overly well then), who knows what he’ll offer. As for the young lads, who knows? Urias should take that next step, and showed the moment’s not too. big for him, but….; when on his game, May looks as dominant as anyone other than Buehler, but…; Gonsolin was quite good in a limited sample this year, but looked overmatched (if also misused) in October.
Meanwhile, Bauer had a Cy Young year, and would help at the front of any rotation. Are there legit questions about how he’s managed the spin-rate explosion he’s seen over the last 12 months–about as big a leap forward as anyone’s made in the Statcast era? Yep. Might his “very-online” habits not fly in a clubhouse that couldn’t bear Puig (or Machado, for that matter)? Yep.
But would the Dodgers likely spend on a 1/2-year deal for a couple years of his peak, allowing a bridge from Kershaw and the youngsters some room to grow into the rotation? HELL yep.
Whatever you might think of the youngsters, I don’t believe the Dodgers will want to block their development, which is what Bauer world do, even on a short contract (which he is unlikely to accept anyway). I also wouldn’t be so quick to count out Kershaw. He admits to being pretty stubborn about changing but it’s clear to me he’s making some of the adjustments now that will keep him at the top end of the rotation for some time.
Couple days late to the party, but here’s my take on the Dodgers rotation. We have six starters. Kershaw, Price and Buehler all have have injury histories. None of Urias, May or Gonsolin have ever pitched a full season with a starter’s workload. 2021 may be Urias’ year to do it, but you’re still depending on everything to go right health-wise for the three horses and development-wise for the two younger. In my opinion, Dodgers could use an anchor guy like Bauer, an excellent pitcher who will almost certainly throw 180 innings. That dependability just isn’t there right now. And if May and/or Gonsolin have to throw out of the pen all year for it, so be it, but they won’t, because injuries happen in a 162-game season.
“Not happening, not even close”
Nice one. lol
One of my Favorite parts of the offseason! This site does a great job of breaking down FAs and their potential contracts/teams.
Yeah, and since nobody has a crystal ball, several if not most of these speculative destinations for players will not pan out. That’s what’s fun about it.
I’d love Stroman for 4 years. Solid guy on and off the field.
Rosenthal would be nice too.
Pretty well done. I can see Richards here more than Minor. Another lap with his best friend Trout.
Angels are also gonna sign jeff Samardzija take that to the bank
I’ve been told the Angels don’t sign PED guys because of Moreno so you can probably take Stroman off your list.
Yet they signed Josh Hamilton….
Crack is not a performance-enhancing drug
I’d like to offer a rebuttal to that but this is a family friendly site
HaloHeaven- I agree. I’m hoping Simmons comes back but I would be happy with Didi or Marcus.
While I’m hoping Simba comes back it unfortunately doesn’t look likely after he opted out of the final 5 games and the statement he put out
Solid guy on and off the field.
Except for faking an injury to obtain service time, and then quitting, yeah.
He didn’t fake an injury and why should teams be allowed to game the system to gain service time but players can’t to benefit themselves?
In reference to his charity work and being a solid example. He went back to Duke and wrapped up his degree, donates his own time and money, and has thoughtful interactions on social media in an age of mindless group think.
Stroman is a good mid rotation starter but he needs to shut the hell up and pitch. he is one of those guys that does irritate his teammates and use social media to piss fans off too
Stroman can’t control your emotions. Don’t give him control. There’s freedom in the unfollow. Breathe.
im fine and Stroman just needs to pitch and stay away from social media…truth
Stroman is an absolute imbecile, rumors are he is one of the most hated players in baseball.
Who and what injury did he fake?
The calf. It wasn’t exactly a fake injury, but he stayed on the DL until the exact time needed for his service time to make him a FA. All well within the rules, but he doesn’t strike me as a team-first player.
Well said. He’s a damn theif. We gave up two solid prospects for him and then he literally stole a year on us. I hope the QO scares every team away.
He was allowed to do that. Just like the Cubs were allowed to game the system on Kris Bryant’s service time.
Was that sarcasm about Stroman being a solid guy?
If the Cards are going to pay Joc $9m a year, they should pony up for Brantley at $14m a year.
It seemed that perhaps they were angling more for pure power, but I agree that Brantley makes sense there.
Pederson certainly better fits the Cards’ MO of striking out 25%+ of the time. Getting someone who can actually make contact isn’t really their thing.
That’s mostly just O’Neill who does that. The Cardinals have a number of higher contact hitters like Goldschmidt, Edman, Bader, (at least previously) Carpenter, and current free agents Molina and Wong.
Can’t see Pederson at 2/$18m. Maybe closer to 2/$14-15m.
$5M is a significant difference in this market, and Pederson could platoon with Bader/O’Neill.
Very possible if not likely Angels aren’t gonna get Bauer and Phillies will lose jt And I for one look forward to looking into the comments by their fans in twitter and blogs lol
“We’ll get pitching this year.”
– Angels fans every off-season for the last decade
They will get pitching for sure just probably not who they want , Cole didn’t care about playing in Cali years before cc didn’t and this year Bauer won’t care forget him taking a lil less for angels ! Padres or white Sox are gonna get him
Phillies fans seem to have already given up on us signing anyone at more then the league minimum for some reason.
They will sign a couple guys at least just might not be the ones they want !
The article has them signing Hendriks, McCann and Richards, for a combined $28M, which is slightly more than league minimum, for some reason.
Realistically speaking Trevor Bauer isn’t going to the Angels. They aren’t going to win a bidding war for him. I said before that Stronmen and Richards along with 2 or 3 relievers or more realistic. Next year’s pitching FA class will be deeper than this years.
Such a great read and I look forward to this article every year, however, don’t take any of these predictions too seriously.
Look at the predictions from last year. They weren’t even close..
I’d say the best one could hope for on the team predictions would be to get about 15 correct. We got 10 last year in our list, including guys like Wheeler and Keuchel, and I thought that was pretty good.
In a normal year I’d say to put less stock in the team picks, as they’re mostly for fun. But I don’t feel confident about the contracts this winter either. This is the highest variance offseason I’ve seen, at least in trying to predict it right now.
i like al conin
Well said, Tim.
The problem with predicting teams is all begins to cascade. Miss one, then you’ve likely immediately missed two. If DJLM returns to the Yankees, then Simmons doesn’t sign with the Yankees, so you’re down two predictions with one signing. Simmons then goes elsewhere, and then you’re down four. It keeps building.
I always enjoy this list but usually you miss on most of them. That is more due to the unpredictability of the market than your acumen. Still, I do not see the Tigers taking on two top 50 FA’s. First, they probably don’t need a 2B this year with the emergence of Willi Castro. They can play him there or at SS and let Niko Goodrum play the other. leaving Harold Castro as a back up IF or super utility guy. Second, while I do see them likely signing rotation help, not buying the Tigers or Porcello are looking for a reunion.
From what I’ve read, Castro is pretty much slated for SS. Meanwhile Goodrum was terrible, and Profar is as much a LF as a 2B anyway. That said – I have no idea if the Tigers are actually interested in Profar.
As a Tiger fan (thanks for the sympathy), I’d rather see the young guys duke it out for playing time. They have Willi Castro, Isaac Paredes, and Jemer Candelario in the infield. Castro and Paredes could play 2B if they can’t stick at SS and 3B, respectively. I’d also like to see Kody Clemens (Roger’s kid) get a shot.
I thought Nico was a finalist for a gold glove at SS…
1. Not alot of star power in this list.
2- 3 years ago, would wouldnhave thought Archer would be the number 50 FA. yikes.
Thanks for your efforts. While getting more than 20% right is hard in any year, the cheapness of the owners makes this an almost impossible year. I would just put all the top ten with the Mets or Dodgers and feel comfortable in hitting 50%
The Padres should focus on retaining Rosenthal rather than Yates if Rosenthal can be had for just 2 years. I was worried it was going to take a 4 year deal to land him like it took Pomeranz last year, but the market really looks depressed.
I’d be a little nervous with Yates closing since he didn’t look good even before he went out with his injury. It just seems like the risk with Yates is much higher given his age, injury, and limited 2020 performance.
That Baseball Fan
I think Yates was hurt at the start of the season. For $5M, I’d say sign Kirby over Trevor. They need to save some money for a good, reliable backup catcher too.
I could absolutely see the Phillies targeting McCann and Hendricks. I very much doubt they target any pitchers with a questionable elbow after the David Robertson disaster however.
I think the tigers are a dark horse to go for a big outfield bat like springer or Ozuna. Having Hinch as their new manager should be somewhat appealing for Springer. If they don’t go for either of those I think Joc Pederson makes a lot of sense for them too
The Yankees are not balking at DJ at $17M only to turn around and give $12M to Andrelton Simmons. Come on.
i believe this may be what they’ve done in the past where they make all the predictions independently, which is a good idea because otherwise you can get everything wrong if you base each prediction off the others.
Yes and no. They obviously need a shortstop, so Simmons makes sense (I like Didi a whole better).
So, if they sign a SS, then signing DJ puts 3 guys on the right side of the IF. DJ, Torres, and Voit are all fine players, but you can only play two of them.
@JoeBrady.. No need to move on from Torres at SS. And for anyone saying he can’t play SS, those same people said Frazier couldn’t play outfield. Torres’ biggest problem isn’t lack of talent, it’s lack of concentration. Along with needing to lay off the weightlifting some.
Yes. The defensive talent it there. He makes great plays, solid range, a 70 arm. He whiffs on simply plays and throws. That’s fixable. You can’t fix a SS who lacks the talent, but you can fix a SS who has the talent. That’s Torres. They certainly aren’t moving on from him as their SS based on a 60-game season. The only way I see that happening is if DJLM signs elsewhere and they make a trade for Lindor. In that scenario, you move Torres back to 2B.
Here’s my prediction non free Agency but here it is ! Braves remain unable to trade ender inciarte To any or the other 29 teams and rightfully so
I would be surprised to see the Mariners go after Happ. On one hand, he would provide a really good veteran presence for the young lefties – Gonzales, Sheffield and Kikuchi. On the other hand, I see them trying to get a guy like Archer and fix him; like they did with Walker last year.
I also expect they will get a few more RP than most expect but Holland is one of them.
I could also see Paxton going back to the Mariners. Dipoto even mentioned that when he traded him.
I could even see another Walker reunion. He still follows the club on social media and comments frequently.
I cAnt see DJ lemahieu going to the jays
The Yankees are not letting DJ go.
its really not that simple
No way in hell the Yanks let DJ walk. He’s been the best player on the Yanks the last two years. If they do let him walk, the team is immediately worse.
I think he will accept the qo
Great work! Not an easy list to put together and I appreciate the effort. Halos probably won’t do anything until a new GM is in place (although I see this off season playing out pretty slowly with all the current issues in play). Angels will probably make a run at Bauer and maybe Stroman, and I would guess Garrett Richards as he is Trout’s pal.
Again, thanks for the efforts, despite all the negative comments on here. It’s good fodder for civil debate!
Very generous contracts. The top three or four may get paid, but all of those players after, cut the salary in half,
Desclafani seems a bit too high. Any reason why he’s in the top 50?
He’s had 2 really good seasons. 1 prior to getting hurt and another in 2019. He was a few too many homers away from a fantastic 2019 actually. He’s a steal at 4 mil. Hope reds keep him for that price
So the second richest owner in USA sports only spends $133m when he needs pitching and there’s Bauer, Hand, Hendricks available?
Intriguing landing spots !
Nice work adjusting players getting paid. You can build a quality pitching staff out of last 12 names on list all about 5 mil per which is a huge deduction on what most those guys made prior. Makes sense to me
Why not just say you have no read on what Chiam Bloom might do with the Sox this off-season rather than the suggested signings you have here? There’s no way they let a comparable pitcher in Perez walk on his option to sign Quintana for 2 years at 50% more per year than Perez was making. And Kolton Wong? Really? The Sox will stick with Christian Arroyo before wasting money and a roster spot to sign Wong.
I like what Arroyo did for us this year, but Wong clearly seems like a better player. Arroyo’s career OPS is still .643. I’d prefer less than two years for Wong, since Downs should be ready before then. But his last three years, Wong has had an fWAR of 2.2, then 2.8, then 3.8 (not counting 2020). I don’t see anything that suggests he shouldn’t have a pretty good season. Plus, we’ve been 26th and 28th the past two seasons in 2B WAR, so it might be time to get a real 2B.
That said, I’d have no interest in Q at that price, or even at a lesser price.
After declining Perez’s option, zero chance they bring in Quintana for more years and money.
Wong is a possibility at 2b, but I think Profar is right in Bloom’s wheelhouse. The former top prospect pedigree, youth, switch hitter and much more versatile.
Unless they view Quintana as a much better option the next two years than Perez. Martin Perez is not good. Quintana is better.
If Lester “only” gets $5M, he will stay with the Cubs.
I don’t know whether to be angrier at Tim Dierkes for ignoring the Rockies in his top 50 predictions every year or the Rockies for proving him correct almost every year.
This year I do expect the Rockies to spend on the bullpen since the trifecta of doom in Davis, Shaw, and McGee has expired. I don’t expect them to sped AS much, but I could see them being in on Hand or Rosenthal at those prices. Possibly even Hendriks.
So Charlie Morton does NOT retire for a 1 year deal to pitch for the Mess $8M? ATL, skip Melancon/Lester and go after Charlie. Too much good chicken n’ beer in ATL to not tempt Lester.
Chicken and beer…..better invite Lackey as well.
Don’t see Bauer going to the Dodgers but imagine?
Don’t forget about Gonslin and May already a good rotation for years to come.
That’s why I can’t see them shelling out for him. I know you can theoretically never have too much pitching, but they already have a ton of pitching so why relegate May/Gonsolin to the pen or AAA?
Seems like an inefficient use of capital when they will need to be paying Seager/Bellinger in the coming years. Lots of other options they could be re-upping rather than adding to an area they already have depth in.
If Bauer does go to the Dodgers it’s probably on a one year deal. Price is a wild card for 2021. He didn’t pitch in 2020 and has been in decline. Kershaw could also see a decline in 2021 after his very good 2020 season. I’m not completely sold on Gonsolin yet. Playoffs kind of exposed him a bit. Dodgers put him and May in bad situations but Gonsolin was a bit inconsistent and hit-able. If they’re going all out for a repeat in 2021 the regular season will be more difficult and Atlanta and SD getting better. Having a potentially dominating pitcher like Bauer with Buehler and Urias, and then Kershaw makes them a serious threat to repeat. Also looking ahead, Kershaw and Jansen may be gone after next year. Most likely the Dodgers will have to pick between extending Bellinger and Seager.
Dodgers will retain Treinen. They will not sign Bauer. Makes more sense to go after Hand.
Theses are HILARIOUSLY WRONG…,
Mets Have to ADD AT LEAST 3 Starters
To The Rotation
and they could trade for one and wait to add non 50 guys or deadline guys
I don’t know if they need 3 guys, but a #2 or #3 would be great and at least one or two guys to compete with Matz.
If that’s their rotation, they finish last in the division
That’s why it won’t be.. so don’t worry lol
Gsellman is questionable as a reliever; he’s no starter. They need to upgrade from Matz and put Lugo back in the pen. They need 3 starters.
Gsellman and Matz should be sent down for a bit because they ain’t been that good in the past season. Matz has a 0-5 record, 9.68 ERA and 4.11 HR per 9 innings!! Gsellman has a 0-0 record, 9.64 ERA and 2.57 HR per 9 innings so yea not good.
Most of the guys in the top 30 projected salaries are drastically overinflated. Major league owners are scared to death of two things heading into next year. First is that the virus is still enough of a presence to significantly limit fans in attendance either through local ordinances still being in effect or people reluctant to be among big crowds.
The second (but not talked about publicly) is the fear that many fans who were turned off by baseball’s strident support of groups like Black Lives Matter that denigrate law enforcement will not return.
Sorry but some of these are funny. DJ signs with blue jays for 4/68. Pretty sure the Yankees would match that off easily.
I totally agree with you Yanks. <$20m AAV for that level of talent offensively and versatility defensively is a no brainer. He’s simply not that old.
i like this situation as a Phillies fan to be honest. maybe switch Richards for someone like Odo or Tai and add another cheap IF (Iglesias?) and we are good.
Agreed. Although I’d much rather see JT and Didi, realistically this would be fine but not very exciting. The offense certainly wouldn’t look stellar, but maybe with better pitching they’d be able to overcome that.
I’d rather have a lefty SP (Quintana or Paxton), but Richards is fine. Just a #4 starter type.
They still need to something about the bullpen, so it would also be nice to see 2 relievers from the top 50 if they’re not gonna spend on JT or Didi.
I didn’t read it. I just figure with the richest owner in baseball now with the Mets that every free agent will be there’s
bauer to the dodgers lol
and why is chris archer the top 50? he isn’t worthy to he an honorable mention
Before the injuries, he never had an ERA higher than 4.31 or a FIP higher than 4.07. He use to be the most overrated pitcher in BB, but I believe he is now underrated.
The Mets are going to spend big. New owner worth 15 billion and a down market. They are going to jump on it.
Realmuto and Springer and a pitcher or two.
just because Cohen is rich doesnt mean he wants to throw lots of money around
Yeah but that’s what almost always happens when a new rich owner buys a team. He’s going to be ready to pounce ! Especially if there are a few bargains out there
Ducky Buckin Fent
I mean, just look at Jeter & the Marlins & how they approached their first off-season, @bot.
Jeter the broke joke who fire sold the most productive single season OF in the history of MLB ??
I said rich owner Bucky D Stalker. Nice try though
Ducky Buckin Fent
Ya know, “rich” always strikes me as a word a little kid would use to describe someone as wealthy.
Derek Jeter is worth 185 million, son. & he owns just 4%.
Sorry, bub. The Marlins owners are *extremely* wealthy dudes. But nice try walking back a very erroneous take.
And… you’re the conspiracy theory weirdo, right? I made fun of you once. I think so anyway lol?
Anyway, sure seems you’re Sensitive Sally kinda bot.
The Marlins Ownership Group is one of the least wealthy in all of baseball and North American sports. Bruce Sherman has a net worth of 500 million. 2nd lowest in the sport outside of Cincinnati.
“Derek Jeter is worth 185 million, son. & he owns just 4%” doesn’t mean the ownership group is worth $4B, it just means he only contributed for 4% ownership stake.
They aren’t even in the same conversation as the middle of pack owners worth $4-5B.
Steve Cohen is worth more than the next two richest owners in baseball and all of the owners in the NL East combined. In the scope of real life, the Marlins ownership would qualify as “extremely wealthy”, but in the scope or professional sports ownership… they are bottom of the barrel.
a big NO to Realmuto and yes to McCann, and sign Morton, Stroman and another starter and pray for Thor to come back mid summer. sign a dominant reliever and go to war with that team!!
They might do it to win back the fan confidence while they start the development process for internal options. Not knowing where the Mets are with their development, but this option worked for the Dodgers. The previous ownership cut player development and decimated the farm system. The Dodgers signed and traded for alot of established stars while they developed the core group they have now. Hope that is the game plan for the Mets.
But he does.. this is his childhood team and is already prepared to lose 400 mil dollars the next two year. And these are his words… doesn’t mean he’ll spend stupidly or at least try to but if he needs a player he’ll try his hardest to get him.
I hear you and met fans
LAD said they lost 120M this year. The bar to lose 200M for each of the next 2 years won’t be very high imho
Tim – I agree that 15 percent (7 or 8) is pretty good considering most of these are guesses, however some have pretty high probability.
Tanaka – NYY resign
Cruz – Twins resign
Bradley – Houston clear need
Bauer to LAD have the money, but the need?
This year will be more challenging than most…good luck
Red Sox will continue their non competitive tanking for another season at least. With E-rod and Sale question-marks going into next year, and a desire to stock young talent, as well as pandemic related income in question, don’t expect them to advance payroll dramatically. My take is they’ll move more players to stock the farm and be aggressive in rule5 draft.
They can build a whole new rotation and pen out of the bottom 12 guys on this list and they have freed up the money to do so w LA trade.
LMAO. They will spend money, they will be better BUT they have too many holes to fill to expect big results, likely a middling team.
Has MLB Trade Rumors heard of this thing called COVID-19 and what it’s done to MLB finances.?? Your cash projections are wildly optimistic from 1-50..
Been watching too much news lately ??
Franchises are worth 100’s of millions of dollars due to their stock market portfolios which will be up for all 30 teams this year. Teams are making money and a handful will act accordingly this year as just a handful do every offseason.
Did Bauer not say he was only going to sign 1 year contracts from now on?
Bet he takes 1 year at 40 million before the 4 year deal for sure
he might get a lot, but 40 is a lot to shell out for a pitcher with consistency issues
He’s backed off that. How serious he was about it is another question.
7 years 180 mil is a lot to shell out too. Then how many seasons will u get at his best performance ?
If I’m a team like the reds and serious about retaining his services; I’d offer 1 year 40 million
And I think Bauer is dead serious. A lot of notoriety comes w being highest paid player in baseball and he would most certainly be that. It would also draw a ton of attention and we all know he loves that too.
Great read. Can’t imagine the work put into this. BTW, if your three Braves picks are correct, I’ll be very happy. Thanks!
The Dodger’s aren’t spending $32 AAV on Bauer on a multi year deal. Bauer is going to sign a unique contract – taking $1m in salary each year and the rest in signing bonus so COVID won’t take away his money. I’ve got him at like 3 years high 80s. Then he’ll start his one year deal thing.
I can’t wait to try my hand at this. As a Yankees fan, I so badly want Lemahieu back
I assume HOFer Rob Refsnyder is #51.
Nice work Tim! Brewers likely needs to cut payroll but with Braun and others leaving already and potential savings of ~ 9-10 mil with non tenders of Knebel/Claudio/Paterson/Vogelbach do you think they could be in on LeMahieu or Turner?
I don’t think they non-tender Knebel unless it’s similar to the Nelson situation and they feel something is still wrong with him. Especially id they have any designs on trading Hader this winter or prior to next season deadline.
Vogelbach is cheap so they might hang on to him at least through camp.
I also don’t see any chance for a “splash” signing anywhere. Remember, they basically gave all the Braun savings (and then some) to Yelich last March.
The Twins are going to have to do a lot more than sign Cruz and Kluber.
Uncertain if Kim is the right fit for Texas since they have Tejeda in the wings, Solak already up and you would still have to move Andrus and/or Odor. They both have fairly inflated salaries so not sure where you can move them. Perhaps send one with Lynn to Cubs, Mets, or Yankees and the other with Leclerc to the Rockies, Marlins, perhaps Red Sox. Seems more likely the Rangers attempt to resign Kluber or sign 1-2 of Archer Desclafani, Richards, Porcello, Walker. Would certainly like Kim, but Ozuna/Pederson would be more useful.
Tejeda is not an everyday player, and if he ends up being so, we should trade him. He’s a poor man’s Tommy Edman. Kim on the other hand is 25 and would slide right in with IKF to boost up our infield a ton with a young, energetic guy.
I would love Kim, but where are you going to move Andrus or Odor. Even in rebuilding Rangers have to either trade Gallo or get him some support. In FA Ozuna would be great but not sure JD does that. That leaves the acquisition of help for Gallo in a trade. Schwarber or Bryant might be available in Cub land, but both are FA next year. Dominic Smith or Peter Alonso could be available from NYM. Duvall or Riley perhaps from ATL or Voit, Andujar Sanchez or Frazier in NYY. Other than that Arrenado, whom I would love but don’t see JD doing that or some salary swap with SD for Myers, Belt in SF, or JD Martinez in Boston are next line of possibilities.
You release Odor, or trade him to some sad team. Andrus should get benched because I just don’t want to see him go. Andrus has some decent playing ability left in him, Odor is just bad (until September). I’d say put Elvis in almost a player-coach position, but that hasn’t been done in a while.
As for the free agents, I’d love to see Ozuna too, but if we are going to be young, he blocks young guys. Solak will be our left fielder on opening day (unless there is a trade), and Calhoun will be our DH. Gallo should get extended (especially if he tears it up next season), I don’t want to see that big of a hole on our team, and really nobody there to fill it. Kim would play either second or third, with IKF at SS. With that being said, I think Kolten Wong would be another possibility, but I think Kim fits a lot better (because of age and hitting ability).
IMO, Odor and Andrus drag this team down. Having one of them coming up in a tight spot is just a premature loss. If we could replace either of them with an energetic, young SS with the rookie season vibes, it would be great for the team. But mainly, Kim doesn’t block the young guys. You could argue Tejeda, but he is a AAA player right now, and an under-average to average player in his prime.
I’m gonna follow up in the next comment, this is to long lol.
With that being said, I think that if we sign Kim, and move on from Odor/Andrus (knock on wood), I think we will sign a one year third baseman type like Brad Miller or… Todd Frazier… I could definatley see us put Frazier at 3rd, and on the days that Andrus plays SS, IKF slides to third, Kim to 2nd, and a platoon of Guzman and Frazier at 1b. I’d like to see Guzman in a platoon, but for right now I’d like to see him just play there full time. Bring up Jung and Huff full time in September (unless they are somehow spring training call-ups), and I can see the direction of this team forming right in-front of my eyes. Here’s the lineup for next season:
As for in 2022, this is what our (WC team) lineup will look like:
Guzman (or another 1b)
That lineup is sweet. Hopefully our pitching advances some because that lineup is a playoff lineup.
Ozuna doesnt block anyone. Calhoun is not an MLB hitter. He doesn’t have enough power for a DH, so no help for Gallo. Guzman still too underwhelming for me. Would much rather have D.Smith at 1B and Ozuna at DH next three to five years. If Rangers get Kim or Wong I am ok with Solak in left. Liked Frazier as a player but he was no help for Gallo. Bottom line is without help Gallo is 200-215 hitter who will hit 40-45 HR. If you put Smith and or Ozuna around him he hits 245-275 with 40-45 HR but also 100-125 RBIs, which means you gain a net of about 15 HRs and 50-75 RBIS with Smith over Guzman and 30-35 HRs and 50-75 RBIs in Ozuna over Calhoun. Ozuna is only 30 and Smith 26 so it works age wise as well.
Why is Calhoun not an MLB hitter? He was a great hitter in 19′ (blame it on the juiced ball if you want, but he looked good). He got hit in the face in spring training which will definatley hurt output. I could see him getting less intimidated by GLF next season, and not being scared of the ball too. I expect an .850 ops season from him next season. He’s an above-average hitter, but you can always refer to his 2020 season if you want to try and prove that he’s a terrible hitter.
I think the pricetag on Ha-Seong Kim will be higher. A 25 year old SS with glove, bat, speed, and some power will be in demand. I’d like to see my Tigers go after him as I’m not sold on Willi Castro’s glove at short, and there isn’t a clear shortstop of the future in the minors. A free agent signing now or in the future would be the solution, and next year’s bounty crop of free agent shortstops will probably be out of their price range.
KBO players rarely get huge money directly out of the KBO when teams arent certain how much the bat will progress. if Kim had spent last year in the MLB and did well, he’d make twice as much most likely, if not more.
Calhoun Career OPS .726
Ozuna Career OPS .800
Guzman Career OPS .725
D.Smith Career OPS .811
Guzman 30 HR 721 AB
D.Smith 35 664 AB
Courtesy of Baseball Reference
Smith can also LF whereas Guzman can only play 1b, Calhoun cannot play anywhere in new stadium but DH.
Nobody for the Cubs until Chris Archer at #50? Sadly I could see it.
Hopefully we don’t have another off-season where teams are dragging their feet to make moves.
I think the Cubs will make moves, just that the big-impact ones will be through trades.
Bauer to the Dodgers won’t happen. Biggest budget concerns for off season is to sign Bellinger & Seager to extensions.
Free agency lesser concern with priority in bringing back Trienen and maybe another reliever. Roster/prospects deep enough to replace an aging Turner, a one dimensional Pedersen and utility player (Hernandez). Simplest replacement is to get a batting practice pitcher to replace Pedro Baez.
yeah, dont see Bauer going there when the lineup is a bigger issue and their starting 5 is alteady elite.
I’d love Bauer to sign w/ the Dodgers but I doubt it (only way I see that even having a chance of happening is if Urias is moved to closer), but I can see them signing a FA SP for their Taxi Squad starting rotation (i.e. limiting CK,Julio, Dustin & Gooses’s IP).
What I can see is them making a run at Hendriks (gotta think that after the WS KJ’s time at closer is up) and a LH hitting OF to replace Joc
Can’t say I see the Yankees signing only one SP on this top 50. And Tanaka at that. Time to move on from that guy. Lot of other affordable options as well and even if they are trying to stay under the luxury tax threshold, they still have a lot of $ coming off the books.
I like Semien a lot more than Simmons. More upside with the bat. Especially if DJ is gone, which I expect him to be. Although 4 years and 68m ain’t as bad as I would have expected to get. I assume he’s going to ask for at least 4 years and 100m as a starting point. To that end, MLBTR is baked.
@jakethesnizake. You may have a bunch coming off from veterans but they estimate about 50M in arb. If you use last years threshold they have roughly about 20M to stay under the line unless they cut some of the arb guys such as Sanchez and Urshela and Voit and Judge. If you cut them you have to replace them which might be more for those except sanchez.
This was definatley my wake up this morning!
This prediction list is so cringeworthy. Starting off with bauer to dodgers lol….have price coming back and already have 5 quality starters not even mentioning gray in high minors. Also need to extend seager and bring back turner. You also have angels only adding 1 starter and 1 bullpen arm which is pretty off. Angels will be in on Hendricks, hand and colme, I doubt they add rosenthal who has a spotty track record. Then adding Semien over just bringing back simmons for 2 more million per year? This list is one of the worst I have seen easily.
Dodgers aren’t doling out a $100m+ for anyone this off-season, and really, then don’t need to. I could see them taking advantage of a depressed market in trying to replace some of the relievers they’re going to lose, perhaps nabbing a top-shelf guy on a one-year deal if the opportunity presents itself. There’s definitely some opportunity at the back-end of their bullpen, with Jansen’s continuing inconsistency and Treinen leaving.
All right. I’m not going to have the kind convulsions a lot of Phillie fans will if they don’t resign Realmuto. Sure, I want him back, but if the pitching staff isn’t priority numbers one through ten then they might as well just tear it all down and rebuild.
All that being said…
For the love of god, NOT THE METS!!!
This is a fun list to read through. Financially, I don’t see any of the players getting the predicted salaries except maybe Realmuto. As a Dodger fan, I definitely don’t see Joc Pederson getting 9 mil per year to platoon.
Pederson is definitely worth at least $9 million per year as a platoon if he puts up the same numbers he put up in 2018 and 2019 against RHP. That’s an over 0.900 OPS, 60 bombs in total over 700 ABs against RHPs over those two years. 2020 was too short of a sample size and he hit much better in the playoffs. I would prefer to have Pederson get his 350-400 ABs at LF against RHP than have Pollock or Taylor or even Beaty get those ABs.
I finished in a tie for 2nd place last offseason and missed winning by one free agent. The staff here seems to think the top FA’s will all get paid despite the financial uncertainty due to COVID-19. They do predict a big drop off with the second tier.
They have the White Sox signing 3 players but not addressing their clear need for a left-handed bat in the batting order which could still come via a trade or a December non-tender. The Cubs don’t appear until #50 with a low-ball deal for SP Chris Archer. My initial thoughts are none of their Chicago predictions will wind up happening with the possible exception of Alex Colome returning.
Aaron – I know I am the sole remaining Zach Collins fan, but it is also possible they give him a run early in the year as backup catcher and DH, especially if they don’t want to have Vaughn start the year on the ML roster.
As we post, Zach Collins is the prohibitive favorite to assume the #2 catching position on the White Sox opening day roster. Chances are excellent the team will carry 3 catcher with the expanded 26-man active rosters that could grow even further with COVID-19 likely still a factor early next year. This was made even more evident when the White Sox elected to pick up Leury Garcia’s 2021 option which provides them with enough defensive versatility elsewhere to carry the extra catcher. That third catching spot should fall to slugger Yermin Mercedes who can take the place of Edwin Encarnacion as the team’s primary right-handed hitting DH if the organization delays their expected promotion of Andrew Vaughn in 2021. With their current projected roster, Collins and starting catcher Yasmani Grandal would assume the bulk of DH PA’s versus RHP.
Grandal will be 32 on opening day and is best suited to catch somewhere around 90 games going forward. His high OBP left-handed bat is necessary in a White Sox lineup that struggles with walks and hitting RHP. As such, Grandal needs to be in the White Sox batting order for around 130 games with the extra 40 or so coming as a DH and backup at 1B to Jose Abreu, something Grandal (32 starts) already did last season with he and James McCann (27 starts) basically splitting their time behind the plate.
It is also a reason I was hoping the front office would consider a QO to Mccann who is a vastly superior all-around catcher to either Collins or Mercedes. Chances are McCann would have rejected the QO to seeking a full time starting gig elsewhere with the White Sox at least gaining a compensatory 2nd round draft pick next July, a pick they would stand to lose by signing George Springer this offseason.
Aaron, one thing I would point out is that Springer hits righties just as well as lefties, and toward that end, it makes no difference that he is not a left handed bat. The reason for a left handed bat is to hit righties, which he does very well. Actually Ozuna hits righties pretty well also, I just see Springer as way more consistent and would greatly prefer him.
Seems far more likely that the Sox would go after a RF than an expensive pitcher, given their history. Perhaps Kluber is on their radar, I suspect he might have something left and would be worth a risk, we’ll see.
Clearly George Springer would be an upgrade for the White Sox RF question mark. His metrics prove that he can hit RHP nealy as well as southpaws. All this still doesn’t address the overwhelming imbalance in a White Sox batting order that saw the team go an astounding 15-0 versus lefty starters while struggling against RHP. As we post, only Yasmani Grandal and fellow switch-hitting teammate Yoan Moncada are guaranteed spots in their 2021 starting lineup. Regardless of whether the White Sox sign Springer they would still be wise to add an impacting left-handed bat this offseason who can mash RHP.
This site predicts the White Sox signing George Springer which makes sense considering their one positional hole on the diamond is RF and with the White Sox having more payroll space available compared to most contenders. Oddly enough, MLB baseball writer Mark Feinsand wrote an article on the same day these projections appeared in regards to the top suitors for Springer this offseason and the White Sox were not included among his 8 destinations: https://www.mlb.com/news/george-springer-free-agent-suitors
As a Yanks fan, I would not be pleased with this!
Walker, odorizzi, Tanaka and garret richards ahead of Morton?
The best ability is availability. Paxton doesn’t have that.
Hello “NY Stems” fan. Cautiously optimistic. Prediction game a tough business. Appreciate the effort etc. My team needs fundies/defense & some speed/baserunning acumen as a foundation. I would target (NOT expecting to get all) SPs Morton, Odo, Ray (possibly Quintana, others) Offense Springer,McCann, DJLe (3B) OR get Arenado in trade esp. IF we cant get Springer. I want to trade some excess/redundancies like JD Smith. Want to keep Nimmo, Rosario (2B,SS,3B) Gimenez is my fulltime SS once he proves his offense is good enough Move Matz to bullpen, work with pitching coach. Keep Lugo as starter. Sign Conforto to 4/5 year ext. (Tough Boras client)
Lugos value is in the pen, we need him in the pen!!
my personal guess is NYM’s catching target is actually Contreras. they add a cheap C so they can devote more capital to pitching with Stroman returning and Bauer as a distinct possibility
Who are the trading for him?
The White Sox need one last big offseason to get them into the WS. Springer, Bauer, and Hendriks. If they don’t sign Bauer, go for Cruz.
Thanks for the laugh.
Not a realistic shot at Bauer. They’d have to break the bank, might only get him for one year, and more importantly, they’re not exactly at the forefront of modern pitching theory and using advanced analytics. The hiring of La Russa doesn’t seem to suggest a shift in that, either. Springer is realistic, Cruz would be great, but unlikely.
I hope LAD don’t sign Bauer. I have no problem with his attitude. He is just an original free spirit with mad skills. He requires a special,patient type of communicator and a Large sum of $ of course. I’d love for him to be on my team but rather have on a 3 or 4 year span. Kind of reminds me of Josh Beckett
What about Chin Soo Choo, I know he has to be in the top 50.
I know it is a guessing game, but I like Wong for the RS. It was a good 50 ABs for Arroyo, and Munoz showed some promise as a jack of all trades, but I’d prefer someone more consistent for a full-time gig, and we’ve been awful at 2B.
And at these prices, we should be adding a legit closer. Adding Hand won’t break the bank, and moving Barnes, Hernandez, Taylor and Braiser down to 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th, would make a mediocre BP into a pretty good BP.
But I have no interest in Quintana, at least at that price.
OTOH, Archer might have gone from the most overrated SP in BB, to the most underrated. The entire risk looks like medical to me. His ERA from 2013-2018 ranged from 3.22 to 4.31 and FIP from 2.90 to 4.07. If he is healthy, he looks like a steal.
Oh I forgot Taijan Walker is a good gamble if healthy (2 or 3 years). I would like to sign 1 of these 3 (Hand, Hendriks, Treinen) Preference for LHRP, maybe 2 RPs if they trade Familia ( He still has value if used properly) IMHO FwiW
great work guys, really enjoy the site and all the work you put out.
sucks seeing my twins not being a player really on any of these names, but unfortunately that’s realistic.
I could see Rizzo trying to bring Ray back to the organization. Rizzo digs the strike outs.
Did you pick teams out if a hat? DLM re-signs w Yankees, no way they let him go. Morton is either in Florida or retirement–would be shocked to see him not re-sign w Rays. Quintana is your 19th ranked free agent? Have you been asleep the last four years??? I would take a 50 year old Nelson Cruz over him lol.
Not yr best work, gents.
Um, those are predictions. Feel free to post your own predictions and we will all take a look.
A lot of time, thought and research went into this article so thanks MLBTR.
I like the guys you predict to go to the Angels. I hope Mr. Moreno is of the same mindset.
The Nationals are listed as potential fits with almost every player on this list.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis For MVP
They have a lot of holes to fill
Nationals couldn’t have timed this buyers’ market any better if they’d planned it. Lots of veteran position players looking for cheap short term deals — right in Mike Rizzo’s wheelhouse.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis For MVP
Maybe I’m buying into his reported preferences too much, but I can’t imagine Morton signing with the Mets.
My other (possibly lukewarm) take is that Stroman will end up taking the QO and staying with the Mets.
Jackie Bradley Jr. – Astros. Two years, $16MM.
The Orioles could afford this and quite frankly so what if there is a crowded Oriole outfield, when do you have the opportunity to sign someone like Jackie Bradley Jr?
Plus, maybe Chris Davis donates part of his salary to get it done!!!
Thank you for doing this.
Tom E. Snyder
Morton will sign with the Rays or he will retire.
With the 2021 season with so much uncertainty, we could see a 1 or 2 going overseas to NPB or KBO.
DJL to Toronto…. you can stop reading after that… what a joke. Like that dude is gonna go to Toronto lol.
Ducky Buckin Fent
Deals, deals, deals!
Bargain…sale price…financing available…EVERYTHING MUST GO!
Before Hand went unclaimed for 10 mil (deal, bargain!) I’d’ve scoffed at some of these estimates.
Seems like these are going to be fairly accurate.
If your club is looking to build/supplement/improve their bullpen or add quality position player depth, this is; The Year.
The SP market isn’t very good, but man, everything else is available at what would appear to be significant savings.
This is probably bad for MLB as a whole, but it’s going to make for a really interesting off-season.
Full speed ahead, fellas.
I agree that with the market being the way it is, it seems like if your team is willing to spend relatively modest amounts you can basically revamp the entire backend of a bullpen.
If you go off these projections you can get closers at $5-7M per year and set up guys at $3-5M. Basically you can lock down innings 7-9 for under $15M next year.
This makes moves like the Giants QO to Gausman even more of a head scratcher to me. They could sign Trienen, May, and Yates for basically the amount of that QO. It seems like the way to exploit the current market is going after RP and depth pieces because SP and impact pieces are scarce.
If a team wants to get better quickly they should grab 2-3 relievers on these short term reduced rates.
Ducky Buckin Fent
A team like Philly would need to spend – maybe – a little over 15 mil in order to add 3 pretty good relief options. The bullpen market is absolutely bonkers, man.
Hand going unclaimed at 10 mil is – I think – a pretty good indication that MLBTR is probably close on a lot of these.
& if you’ve a couple holes in your lineup to address this looks like a good winter easily to plug them.
“They could sign Trienen, May, and Yates for basically the amount of that QO.”
In theory they could but Farhan isn’t going to spend that kind of money on relievers.
As a baseball fan I see these predictions as very, very, very scary and ominous. What—one deal over $25M a year? Only a handful in the range of five years?
With all the uncertainty in front of us—not just the baseball world—it does look like very short team, low deals are going to be made.
I’m guessing the team that adds escalators (if even legal) based on attendance, gate, etc would have an advantage.
I think we are going to see a bloodbath for the MLBPA. This is very scary.
Ducky Buckin Fent
&, I can see a very real argument that a number of these predictions are high.
As near as I can tell, there are *at least* 40(!) more free agents at this time than there was a year ago.
That number will do nothing other than *increase*.
Folks are worried about the 2022 season.
The reality is, the ’21 season is in jeopardy as the MLBPA has shown a very real willingness to strike *during* the season.
& *that* probably deflates the market even *more*.
Kind of a mess, man.
I don’t think there will be a strike. If anything, I find a lockout more likely, as owners paying out contracts this winter will want to pay less if there are still no fans or a diminished capacity at the start of next year. The MLBPA would naturally reject that and then the owners lock the players out and pay nothing. As for the number of free agents, I think it’ll be even more next year, as a good percentage of these guys will take either one-year deals and wait this out, or have opt-outs after the first year so they can try again next year.
Ducky Buckin Fent
That’s my point, though.
The MLBPA has been preemptive in regards to being locked out.
They enacted strikes in June & August in ’81 & ’94.
I don’t see why ’21 would be any different. They know threatening the postseason is their only real leverage.
It totally sucks to think about.
I guess Covid makes things more difficult to predict? Maybe the players will be more inclined to make as much as they can before a lock out.
That would surprise me, though.
Much as I hate to say it.
Not much you can do about that. Plenty of regular folks have had cutbacks. They won’t feel particularly sympathetic to a $10M salary morphing into an $8M salary.
I don’t think Springer gets that big of a contract. He’s getting older and he’s got a stain on him he’ll never be able to wash off.
I can see him getting 5 years/$90M. Good money but it factors in his age.
I agree it won’t be $25M/yr, but I think $18M sells him short. I’m thinking somewhere around 5yr/$110M-$115M. The owners will whine and cry about how much they lost, but at the end of the day, they’ll recognize this won’t last forever and they’ll go back to making tons of money. If they don’t, they can always lock out the players and pay nothing to them. As for his age, it may be a concern, but for a team like the White Sox, whose window is just opening, it’s one of those risks you’re going to have to take eventually. He’s shown no signs of slowing down yet. Finally, for his stain, I think most people in baseball have probably moved on. He’ll hear some stuff from the fans and it may be mentioned from time to time throughout his career, but I don’t think it dogs him financially.
As a White Sox fan, I’d love to see them get Springer and then steal Cruz away from the Twins. I know the latter isn’t particularly likely, as they have Vaughn coming up, but if he’s open to a slightly more lucrative 1-yr deal with an option for a 2nd year in case Vaughn proves to be not ready or gets injured, it could work. As for pitching, I highly doubt they get Bauer. Stroman, should he decline, would be a decent choice, or they could get Taijuan Walker. Paxton is interesting as a one-year stopgap, but I think they can do better.
Taijuan Walker? Why?
Right side of 30, probably on the cheaper side, not going to block any of the young guys when they come up, and I still believe he has upside. I’ll admit there are risks, but I also don’t see the rotation as big a need as RF, so outside of the top guys, it matters less to me who they have rounding out the rotation until Cease figures it out.
I dont see where people rate Stroman so high. He has ability. I see him as best a solid 3rd SP or solid 4th or 5th. If I am a GM based on price tag, fit on team, confort with location WC, EC, MW, small mkt etc Assuming no injuries, I put him on the same level as Tanaka, Morton, Odorz, Ray, Archer, Gausman, T Walker, Quintana, Kluber. I think Happ, Hamels, Lester are also useful at the right price and # of years. Production is too variable in my mind. Bauer is definitely A/A1, B+ but he’ll cost ya. Need to have salary room. Plus other teammates may resent potential for bad morale/culture on team. Intangibles are important in my mind. There is no I in tean BUT there is a me. Sad attempt at humor
He was injured in 2018, but the two healthy seasons surrounding that he had a 137 ERA+ in 2019 and a 145 ERA+ in 2017. He’s 29, has shown he can comfortably give you 30+ starts and 180-200 innings. He also has a very valuable skill of suppressing HRs in a game where run scoring is driven by HRs. You can think that’s a 4th or 5th starter all you want, but that’s way more valuable than you’re recognizing.
That said, it wouldn’t shock me if he took the QO. I think it can go either way with him. He’s not someone who lacks confidence, so considering how murky the offseason market will be, I can see him deciding to bank $19M, put up another 125 or better ERA+ season that he’s shown in his prime, then go back out and make even more money next year.
Meant Team of course. Apologies.
They just don’t see the braves making any competitive or big moves really. Brantley? Idk… he’s good but I don’t like his injury history. I’d rather go with someone more likely to stay on the field. Lester and MM? Again, neither are amazing. I’ll take MM back but I want Shane Greene also. Give me a stronger pitcher for the rotation though.
I’m a Jays fans and even I had to laugh at DJ to Toronto, he’s not leaving New York for “only” $68 million. Any competitive offer from the Yankees and he stays.
Plus, who knows how much the Jays still being without a home in 2021 is going to impact free agents wanting to go there? I don’t think they land anyone of consequence because it’s a tough situation to willingly sign up for.
I didn’t find that too likely, either. Supposedly, the Yankees are looking to reset under the tax threshold, but I don’t think they let him go.
First off, thanks for all of the work you guys put in on this. Second, I suspect that the Giants may be more involved on pitching than is shown here. Lastly, did I miss something on Julio Teheran?
Also I don’t see why so many people see Red Sox in a middle of a rebuild. Their GM is smart has more $ avail. Without any changes they have a solid offense. They need health from Sale, Rodriguez (serious heart concerns). Add 2 solid SPs FA or via trade plus AAA on the verge, 2 solid RPs and they are contending for the division on Day 1 Resign Cora (Not happy with his role with HOU) Look out NYY, TB,TOR fans.
That’s an optimistic view. I’ll grant that the offense wasn’t the problem, being 11th in runs scored, but the pitching was the second-worst in all of baseball and worst in the AL by 30 runs. That’s half a run worse per game than the Angels. If everything you’re hoping happens actually does, they *may* be in the conversation for a WC, but they have no Mookie, a declining JDM, and you have a rather long list of things you’re hoping for. Sorry, but this is a team that needs a rebuild, not a retooling.
I’ll go ahead and bet that if 18 mil a yr is what it takes to get Ozuna’s services, he’ll be staying in Atlanta. The DH is coming in 2022 at the latest so they can survive one yr with him in the OF if need be. Plus, once Pache and Waters are up full time, Atl will have one of the cheapest outfields in the league so they can afford to spend on the DH position.
I definitely feel that Bauer is gonna end up with the Dodgers
I don’t find that likely. They have $20M in cap space now, Bauer could cost $30M. Besides, they don’t really need pitching. Getting the best guy when you have that position locked up pretty well doesn’t benefit you as much as getting a pretty good guy at a spot where you’ve struggled.
The Dodgers are like a rich man. They already have a Ferrari (Buehler), a classic Rolls Royce (Kershaw), a 1000HP street racer (May), a Corvette (Gonsolin), a Porsche (Urias) and reliable BMW family car (Price). Now, their Mansion has an adjustable rate mortgage that will be going up the next 2 years before a huge balloon payment 3 years from now (Bellinger) and a big balloon payment on their business property next year (Seager).
Now, do the Dodgers save the money for those 2 huge upcoming balloon payments, or do they go out and blow all their extra cash on a new Bugatti Chiron (Bauer)?
Unless Friedman is all of a sudden taking a page out of Arte Moreno’s sign everyone to huge contracts playbook i don’t see the Dodgers springing for Bauer. They have a solid staff and they haven’t even seen Price yet. Buehler, Bellinger, and Seager all have hefty paydays coming and already committed a massive amount of money to Mookie Betts. Even teams with deep pockets are going to feel the squeeze of no revenue this season and questionable revenue next season.
It will be a blistering off-season on the Braves boards for all those fans who whined about last year’s haul (despite Atlanta signing more of the top 50 than any team). I would be shocked to see the Braves sign anyone of note this off-season. That’s probably a good thing when you look at this list and see Gausman in the top-10. What a horrible free agent class.
If they do bring on salary, it will almost certainly be via trade. There should be a few guys they could realistically trade for that non-contenders might be willing to offload for a rebuild. Should be a very slow off-season for Atlanta.
Probables – Freddy working out an extension.
Possibles – Kris Bryant, Lance Lynn,
Improbable, but hoping – Hader, Iglesias, Andujar (Yanks need pitching .. so maybe Riley and someone like Wright or Wilson)
Big risk, not likely, but have to list it for fun – Arenado. Shoulder injury, and a huge contract with an opt-out clause might force the Rockies to seek something lesser than most would expect. OR, they could roll the dice and keep him since their young talent was surprisingly good this year. Then again, do they really see themselves as competing with the Padres and Dodgers? If not, maybe save some money and get some talent back instead of risking losing him for nothing. Of course, Arenado would have to waive his no-trade, but he just might given his grumblings last offseason.
This site has multiple players ranked just ahead of James McCann with predicted contracts of 3yrs/$39MM. In my humble opinion, McCann, as an All-Star catcher in his prime with drastically improved stats over the past two seasons, has at least as much value as those players if not more playing MLB’s most demanding and arguably most important position. There is a dearth of quality catchers in MLB, especially those who can do everything the position demands with well above average metrics.
Clearly J.T. Realmuto is in a class by himself with this site predicting a 5yrs./$125MM contract despite the financial fallout from COVID-19. McCann is the second best FA option and is only 9 months older than Realmuto with both being 30 years old on opening day. Realmuto has the far better career track record but with it comes a lot more mileage. McCann has produced similar numbers to Realmuto since joining the White Sox in 2019 with advanced metrics suggesting he was his equal both offensively and defensively during the abbreviated 2020 season. McCann matched Realmuto in 2020 and was superior to his more renowned teammate Yasmani Grandal in both 2019 and 2020 with the latter also being 1-1/2 years older and with all three still considered among the top all-around catchers in MLB.
I found James McCann’s burner account.
Yeah, this guy writes novel-length posts on McCann as if he’s an inner-circle HOFer. There are few things more overrated in sports than back-up catchers and back-up quarterbacks. Some team may be forced to start him full time, but over the course of a full season they will regret it.
Aaron, I usually agree with you, but McCann is not worth 3/$39. I’m not sure he’s worth 2/$20. 30 yrs old isn’t “in his prime” for a catcher, for one thing. Second, his career OPS, even after 2 great years, is only 86. He’s a solid defender who’s worked on his skills and his offense and certainly deserves to be a starter, but I was thinking somewhere along the lines of 2/$17 or 3/$25. Keep in mind that he still hasn’t put together a full season of this kind of production. Last year, he had a terrible second half and this year was unique. You compare him to JTR this year and say they were more or less equal, but 31 games proves very little. I really do wish him the best, but I would be very surprised if it’s more than $10M/yr.
somehow i doubt that anyone outside of the top 6-8 names gets anywhere close to the salaries suggested. Owner’s have been crying poor since back to May. Most teams are frequently laying off employees. I doubt they change that stance during the offseason and splurge on most of these names.
Spare Tire Dixon
Bauer to the Dodgers is interesting. I didn’t see SP as an area of need for LA, with Kershaw, Buehler, May, Price, Urias, and Gonsolin as options already on the roster. Price will be like signing a FA after a year not playing. If LA makes some big $ moves, I would think it would be for the bullpen. Maybe a trade for Hader or someone like Hendriks/Hand/Treinen?
Spare Tire Dixon
I think Brantley or Joc Pederson make sense for Atlanta. If the DH does not happen in 2021, then a platoon with Duvall works. When they do get a DH, guys like Duvall, Riley, Pederson/Brantley could rotate though there for ABs.
Also, I wonder if Lance Lynn would be a target for the Yankees. Base it around guys like Frazier, Andujar. Maybe Texas would even take on Gary Sanchez?
For one year of Lynn? I don’t see the Yankees moving both Frazier and Andujar for that, and I’d doubt they’d consider moving even Frazier alone. It’s about cost controllable players now for all teams, even more so during these pandemic times. Andujar is likely next year’s Frazier, meaning the player Yankee fans want to trade one year but are reminded next year that they’re actually very good. If he’s traded, he’d be best on a team that has an opening at 1B or LF. He can handle either if he’s given enough reps. 3B is not an option.
Rangers need both a 1b and a LF. A trade straight up for LYNN for Andujar possibly doesn’t work, but if Rangers added LeClerc or Montero and then take Sanchez I think it is practical for both teams.
At this point the Yankees should be kicking in more in that trade not Texas. There is currently no reason to believe Andujar will replicate his rookie year and right now he doesn’t really have a position. The Rangers are likely to trot out Calhoun in LF and Guzman at 1B again until they are convinced they are not the answer at those positions
I see Kim going for lower. He’s young, but there is still a question on how he’ll translate to MLB, with even some concern if he’ll stick at SS. There’s also a question about how his bat will handle high velocity based on the data from his current league. Maybe a 3/24? He’s intriguing because of his age and the possibility of getting more value for the buck, but there’s also some probability you’ll get low value for the buck. He has no track record in MLB and the history of position players coming Asia isn’t strong, and as you noted, non-existent for middle infielders from Korea.
I will absolutely vomit is Bauer goes to the Dodgers.
Just trust Friedman, he will do a very good job. keeping Dodger at the top If not free agent then trades he will do.
I see almost no reason Seattle would spend that kind of money on Happ or Holland. If JA Happ is the biggest free-agent signing for the Mariners they are obviously punting the year, so why waste the money on guys who will be too old to contribute in 2022..
I see them either being aggressive in some longer-term fits like Kim or Stroman or going bargain bin hunting for even cheaper stopgaps. To me throwing money and kind of real money at Holland and Happ types in a depressed market make zero sense.
Why would a rebuilding team spend $6 mill on a 38 year old pitcher when you have Kim going for $8 million? why piss away 6 mill if 8 mill actually gets you a potential long term piece?
Dipoto for President
6 million for one player and 4 million for another player is not necessarily overspending. Happ is what he is, an older starter and Holland is a piece that they could flip at the deadline if things aren’t going well. I’m hoping for a Treinen/Hand/Graveman bullpen, but I might be dreaming. They have the money and the strength of this FA class is decent bullpen pieces. Dipoto isn’t going to get all the good free agents all at once. This is going to take him 2-3 years to add on the pieces they need to the youngster pile.
The problem is going to be getting DiPoto to sign them since it seems he only knows how to make trades
So, to add my .02c worth..I see just about every arm listed the Phillies as a possibility..if there is one thing the Phils need is arms…MLBTR have to be right on a few of these pitchers…I’ll be very happy to see HectorScareUs gone..Phillies can’t strike out on all of them, can they?
Red Sox are pitching starved. According to this list they’re only going to grab the 6th best and 26th best pitchers available. Yeh right.
Players have to want to go there. If you could pick your destination, would you rather go to a contender or a team some think should start a rebuild and that already traded away easily it’s best player? Also, Chaim Bloom was brought in to curb costs, not to spend wildly. If anything, I think Boston will fool itself for one more year into thinking it can be competitive, then start a full-on rebuild.
I’m not sure about the Red Sox giving Quintana $9 million per season when they just balked on giving Martin Perez $6 million. DeSclafani and Wong are interesting though
So the Yankees don’t have 4/68 to pay LaMahieu, their most productive offensive player with a great glove, but they do have 1/12 for Simmons, a glove only guy. Color me skeptical, except for that some 25 year old nerd in the Yankees front office probably thinks those numbers make sense.
I was in the chat earlier and someone brought that up. Tim said it was a bigger issue when they had him at 4/$84, but based on Hand getting passed on, they were forced to make late changes to many of their estimates. He admitted it made less sense the Yankees would pass on him at that level, but noted they’re trying to reset under the tax threshold. Personally, I think he gets somewhere in between, but probably leaning closer to the original estimate.
I have an odd inkling that Stroman ends up in Miami. That squad has some talent, and adding a solid veteran with postseason experience would do them good.
If White Sox didn’t sign Springer who could be another candidate for right field or do they stick with Mazara and Engel?
White Sox likely have to sign either an OF or a 1B. With Encarnacion not likely to return an Outfielder to allow Jimenez to DH or a First Baseman to share 1B/DH with Abreu
If not Springer maybe take a flyer on Puig or Michael Brantley. 1B maybe Carlos Santana or Eric Thames
Well we have Andrew Vaughn ready to go as the 1B/DH backup. So I don’t think that would be an issue. I don’t think they pull the plug on Eloy Jimenez in LF just yet but probably want be much longer if he doesn’t improve his defense.
I’d love to see the Sox sign Cruz to play DH, partially to rob the Twins of his services. But with Vaughn coming up, I don’t think they do that. Plus, until he arrives, they can rotate in Grandal, Collins, Eloy, or Abreu to get them regular days off from playing in the field.
Brantley would be my 2nd choice in RF. Good lefty bat, problems are his age and that he’s only played 9 games in RF. Joc Pederson is a platoon option, since he and Engel complement each other. I wouldn’t want Ozuna because this past season was better than 2017 by a wide margin and that year is better than any other by a wide margin, so I think he’s only occasionally a game-changing kind of guy. He’d be an improvement, but too pricey.
Someone that might cheaper than Joc is Jackie Bradley Jr. Could still be that left handed bat to face the righties. Great defense and late game situations you could have Adam, Luis and Him across the outfield.
JBJ is serviceable, but not ideal. I’ll grant that he’s a much better defender, but if we’re talking about a weapon vs RHP, his career OPS is just .752 vs Joc’s .849. As good as Robert and Engel are, you could leave Joc in and have the other two cheat over just a little, lessening Joc’s ground to cover. Also, if he’s in RF, fewer balls are hit there than to CF and LF. JBJ would still be an upgrade over Mazara and he’s at least playable against lefties, but I think a Joc/Engel platoon is preferable.
True. I think Joc ends up in LA with the Angels.
That’s a very real possibility. There’s a lot of pressure on Moreno from fans to finally build a competitive team out there, so I expect them to be aggressive once again, especially since they’re nearing the end of their albatross contracts. The Angels are one of the teams I think has the best shot of landing Bauer, just because I think they’ll match just about any bid.
I agree. I think they go all in this year. If you look at that team there isn’t too many holes to me. Joc and Bauer would be big but I would also add another middle infielder and adding pitching depth is never a problem. 2nd base was a problem. So you could add a guy there and leave Fletcher at SS or add a SS and put Fletcher at 2B. Marcus Semien could be a nice add.
I’ll be very depressed if the Braves replace Ozuna with Brantley. The Braves once again need a clean up hitter, not a contact guy. I’m very skeptical Riley grows into that. I hope maybe y’all were thinking trade for that?
I do like the idea of taking a 5m gamble on Lester though as a 4th starter.
Brantley should be cheaper and he’s steadier from year to year. Ozuna had a hell of a season, better than any other year by a wide margin, but that other year was better than any other by a wide margin. So you have two superlative years and a bunch of average ones while Brantley has steadily been above average for years now. There’s the age question, but Brantley may end up being the better deal.
Anyone who’s looking at Marcell Osuna for 4 years is asking for a Yoenis Cepedes repeat. Injured for 3, good in the 4th if he does’t get hurt. Bad investment.
As a BoSox fan I’d be very disappointed if those predictions came true. I want Stroman and Ozuna.
I think that Odorizzi will not have a higher AAV than Taijuan Walker. Morton will sign with the Rays or retire.
Why aren’t my posts being published?
Treinen to Dodgers.
Kike Hernandez doesnt make the list?
Kike is interesting because in a normal off-season he could probably get a deal similar to the one Marwin Gonzalez got from the Twins. Kike has some pop but needs to play everyday, could probably be a nice low cost option for a team in need of a 2B. I’m not sure if he stays with the Dodgers as it seems Taylor has passed him on the depth chart
Nah, nah, and… nah. Hernandez already plays nearly every day, wherever and whenever needed. He isn’t behind anybody in the depth chart, because he can play nearly every day, wherever and whenever needed. He would be wasted on any team that planned on using him at 2B, because plays nearly every day, wherever and whenever needed. The Dodgers will probably try to bring him back, because they understand his value.
Don’t forget the Dodgers are high on McKinstry, who can shuttle between the middle infield and left field. He may not have Hernandez’ glove but can swing the bat from the left side. This means he can take Pederson’s AB in LF. A problem on the infield is that Lux is also a lefty hitter but Friedman will figure something out. Hernandez a FA this winter and Taylor next winter. The Dodgers will shuttle in versatile young players to replace them. This is probably why they were interested in Rengifo.
Also, Barnes restored some value with his post-season performance. He is a year away from free agency and is estimated to receive $1.5 million in arbitration. Given the catching market, this makes him a bargain option for a needy team and a valuable trade chip. The Dodgers can move him for a young infielder they like and replace him with Ruiz. I like Barnes and would be happy if he’s back, but Friedman is good at moving guys when the time is right. He held off on moving Verdugo two winters ago, only to move him in the Betts trade after his value had increased.
So Brad Hand just went unclaimed on waivers (meaning every team passed on getting one of the best relievers in baseball for 1 yr/$10 Million without having to give up anything including a draft pick) but you think the Dodgers (after losing over $100 Million in 2020) are going to drop $32 Million/yr for four years and lose a draft pick in the process for Trevor Bauer (or anyone for that matter)!? I don’t think you are reading the room!
Peart of the game
How would Tomoyuki Sugano not get more than $4 million from an MLB team? Shun Yamaguchi got more as a guy who could have been expected to be a back end of the rotation guy. Also, Ha-Seong Kim actually was 23/25 in stolen bases this year.
I think the first six are way more than will happen. Either In years, money, or both
MLB.com having their old depth chart system would really help for the contest
The Rangers aren’t signing any free agents. They’re cutting payroll.
Kluber gets more than Morton? Umm. No.
Wrong from the very start. Andrew Friedman has worked hard to get the Dodgers’ payroll in order. Their starting pitching over the next several years will be mostly homegrown and controllable. Plus, the Dodgers just won the World Series and have no reason to go on a wild spending spree. Bauer for 4 years, $128 million would be irresponsible, which is not what AF tends to do. He won’t go overboard for a guy who just had his career year elsewhere. Not In this market and not with Seager due to be a FA next winter.
I do think AF will add bullpen help but will be patient and see how this reliever shakes out. So far, it seems as if the bullpen will be an area where teams will be looking to save money. I also think Justin Turner is gone; not because of the Covid incident but because it doesn’t make baseball sense to bring him back for his age-36 season. If the Dodgers make a FA splash, it would probably be LeMahieu due to his versatility. Factor in Rios, Lux, and Taylor and they’ll have 3B and 2B taken care of, with Hoese eventually factoring in at 3B.
Otherwise, AF will probably try to win a WS in ’21 while keeping that payroll in order so the Dodgers can remain in the mix for years to come.
There’s a lot of 2/14m contracts in there. I think the only one on here that I’d completely agree with is Realmuto and the Mets. They’re going to make a splash and he’s it. I see them being competitive for Bauer as well. They need another pitcher and I’d think Cohen wants to make a splash for the upcoming year. He’s already chatting with Mets fan on Twitter.
Cohen being a Mets fan might be a problem. As we see on fan sites and on talk radio, fans make dumb trade and FA signing proposals. Is Cohen going to build smartly or be a fan and overspend in free agency? Contrary to what many Mets fans think, they are not really close to being a contender. I visited Metsmerized yesterday and there were fans who thought Cohen would dole out long-term deals to all of Bauer, LeMaheiu, Springer, and Realmuto in addition to bringing back Stroman. That would be a recipe for disaster. Is Cohen going to be a smart owner who lets his baseball people handle roster decisions or be a meddlesome one who runs the franchise into the ground? Hobnobbing with fans on Twitter is a bad sign because it suggests he’s ego-driven and wants to be their hero.
I can see the giants re signing one or both of gausman and smily but they likely will be in on at lest either another starter (likely not a bigger name like Bauer or stroman) and an infielder, I really don’t see bringing back the exact same rotation as last year plus a bullpen arm the offseason for a rebuilding team
I agree with the other dodger fans here on Bauer so I won’t deeply go into it
Instead, small devil advocate. IF LAD sees Hendricks as overpriced, they could make May into Josh Hader for the year. He’s still young and they may want to control his innings. Gonsolin and May could be multi inning weapons…
Just devils advocate. I’m on the side they’ll spend on a reliever (and extensions) before SP…. but Friedman could trade Price and open up some money+a spot. He opens sometimes, other times relieves. He LOVES moving the roster around, so assuming anything will be perfectly the same is a bit negligent
Most of all, I enjoy this post every year. It’s not going to be 100% right. But it’s a helluva way to get people talking, and it takes brass to put your picks out before the market starts
Reliever salaries will be down due to the uncertainties facing the ’21 season. Teams won’t be shelling out $3-4 million for serviceable relievers like Pedro Baez and Daren O’Day when they can bring in rookies for the league minimum. How this affects closer types remains to be seen, though the Brad Hand situation might offer a hint. The Dodgers signed Treinen for $10 last winter. Just a guess that they can get someone similar or better for less than that.
If Friedman tinkers, I can see him doing something with Barnes, who had a nice post-season and is predicted on FanGraphs to make $1.5 million in arbitration. Attach Barnes to a contract you want to move like Pollock or Price, send some money to help pay down the contact, and go with Smith and Ruiz as the catchers. That way the Dodgers can get value in a trade will and keep the payroll in order. Meanwhile, the trade partner will be thrilled to get two helpful players without breaking the bank. Whatever happens, I trust Friedman to do what’s best for the Dodgers for ’21 and beyond. A master at managing a payroll and player development is top-of-the-line.
I saw the Barnes mention elsewhere from you and I agree it’s highly plausible. IF they think Ruiz is ready. Big if. Not sure how they feel
Price or Pollock being moved would not surprise me, I agree. Friedman will pay to move a guy+bring talent back, like you said.
Imo the only way Bauer happens is at least one trade with SP leaving LA. Could be Price+Barnes, could be Gonsolin or May In a package for someone like… Matt Chapman?
Overall, and I’ve said it for years, in Friedman I trust
Doubt Barnes goes anywhere since Kershaw and Buehler seem to love having him behind the plate. And Mookie has helped make him a better hitter.
I like kluber and Hamels to yanks.. along with DJ back. They should move on from Tanaka his best is behind him. Or go kluber and Brantley so they have a left handed bat to replace gardy
Kluber and Hamels would come with huge risks at ages 35 and 37. Fans would clobber Cashman if he brought in both and neither worked out. Tanaka is not only younger and healthier than those guys but would seem to have more left in the tank. Finding decent starters is hard because teams that have them don’t want to let them go.
I’m surprised Yasiel Puig didn’t receive an honorable mention…or at the very least a dishonorable one!
The photo of Justin Turner used on this post makes him look like a homeless man who just got woken up by the cops and told to get off the park bench.
His normal look?
Attention Preller: sign Rosenthal. Borrow the money if you have to.
Just trust Friedman, he will do a very good job. keeping Dodger at the top If not free agent then trades he will do.
Padres will cry about the money they lost in 2020 and try to cut. as much money as they can.
You are WAY off on Stroman IMO. He won’t command anywhere near that.
I’m not convinced. Last year, a lot of people didn’t think Wheeler would do nearly as well as he did, then many other pitchers exceeded expectations. It’s a down economy and he didn’t play this year, but I don’t think the numbers are terribly far off considering many see him as the 2nd best FA pitcher.
I think they send Gonslin to the BP or use him as trade bait. He was good during the regular season but below average in the post season. They could trade him to a team that needs starting pitching such as the Angels or Brewers.
Meh. He was a rookie who left a few pitches up but also mowed down some decent teams
Spoiler. May was shaky in the playoffs too. Many guys are year 1
If he ends up in the pen it has way more to do with other guys being able to throw 200 innings more than Gonsolins’ playoffs
Would LAD trade for 3B Kyle Seager?
ARI – Jimmy Nelson
ATL – Jake Odorizzi
BAL – Yasiel Puig
BOS – Pedro Baez
CHC – Jonathan Schoop
CHI – Jake Bauer
CIN – Yoenis Cespides
CLE – CJ Cron
COL – Jackie Bradley Jr
DET – Tyler Heineman
HOU – Matt Shoemaker
KCR – Chris Archer
LAA – Jon Lester
LAD – Ken Giles
MIA – Mike Fiers
MIL – Marcus Semien
MIN – Masahiro Tanaka
NYM – Didi Gregorius
NYY – Yadier Molina
OAK – Enrique Hernandez
PHI – Liam Hendricks
PIT – Alex Wood
SDP – JT Realmuto
SEA – Robbie Ray
SFG – Rusney Castillo
STL – Roberto Osuna
TBR – Austin Romine
TEX – Julio Teheran
TOR – James Paxton
WSN – Kolten Wong
I’m not sure Kyle is a full time guaranteed starter on LAD.
Then add in his contract, becoming basically 2/30 when traded. He’s probably a better defender than Turner but not nearly the bat. Aside from the brother-angle I don’t think it would be a prudent baseball move.
I didn’t even hit on Seattle is going to want something coming back too
I know this sounds harsh but here’s the truth. They won 106 games in 19, then got Mookie betts and were on pace for 115 this year in a full year. The only way to improve a position is a bonafide star. Kyle is a nice player but he’s not that guy
So the Red Sox are going to spend $21M on Quintana, Wong and Desclafini and not address CF or really their bullpen? Idk I don’t really see those 3 guys as being real targets for the Sox. Maybe? Wong? But even that seems like a lot to invest in a mediocre 2B when they have a few internal options and really no good options in CF or in the bullpen. Personally I think they make a bigger move for either an OF or a ‘higher-risk, higher-reward type SP’ and address their bullpen. They finally have some salary cap flexibility to work with after getting under the tax last season, and while it’s possible the front office is looking ahead to 2022 I also think they need to do something to ‘win the fans back’ after their atrocious season last year. Granted I think resetting was the right call last year, I also think they’re closer to being competitive than their record indicates. especially if erod and Sale come back healthy (or close to it)
The only thing i can of in this scenario would be moving Chavis to the OF. If he plays LF then Benintendi would slide to CF, if plays RF then Verdugo would slide to CF. I don’t see either option as being optimum so they will have to address the OF at least until Duran is ready
LeMahieu will earn more than Ozuna in FA $.
I’ll pass on Bauer. Another overhyped pitcher who has never lived up to the hype. I rather sign one of the other available pitchers to a 1 year deal.
I don’t trust how inconsistent he’s been, but it’s hard to say the presumptive CYA winner for 2020 “never lived up to the hype.”
So let me get this straight. The Marlins let Kintzler go for $4 million this year, but are going to go out and sign Treinen for $14 million for two years?
That seems not very well thought out.
Cant see the Dodgers taking Bauer, especially at 4 years 100+ million.
They just dont do those type of deal unless it was for a Betts or Cole type player.
Bauer had a great year, but he isn’t that type of player.
A move like this would be contrary to everything the Dodgers have done since the Freidman era began.
Can’t see it.
Don’t see Giants spending 15m on a reliever. Zaidi is too much into finding value and they have to splurge on Gausman.
What about the Cubans Puig,Céspedes ,Yasmany Tomas and Castillo ???
Minor league deals for Cespedes and Puig (especially Cespedes) Tomas and Castillo will be lucky to even get that
So this ignores the Mets getting a new owner apparently. If they start 2021 with none of the “top 50” when looking into the relief market I’d be shocked. And the only pitcher they got is 2748389294 years old? Unlikely.
I’d take Brad Miller over a number of the pitchers late on the list.
Holland to the Mariners does not make sense. There’s a big possibility the Royals will bring him back since he’s a good mentor for the younger guys in the Royals ball pen such as Josh Staumont and tyler zuber.
Can you set up a top-10-free-agent pool and we can select to which team those respective free agents will go? It would be cool to see which user name(s) come out on top at the end and how it compares to the writer’s beliefs.
Be a fun exercise for the fans of this site.
Profar and Santana are perfect fits for Milwaukee.
So if Bradley walks, who plays center in boston? It isn’t like they really have anyone knocking on the door like they did when Bradley was ready to take over for ellsbury.
Unless they move benintendi to center in which case, who plays left?
Sorry but you should not get paid for writing a completely brain dead predictions about where FA will end up and for how much!!! The Yankees will let DJ walk to Toronto for 68 million?? I would slap your face and say wake up if I was in a room with you… I cannot say for sure where DJ will end up I hope the YANKEES but where ever it is it will be 4 years for over 80 to 100 million and I will bet you any amount of money you can scrap up junior on that 🙂
I can see Soria and Archer being pursued by the pirates.
Archer because he is an inning eater, the fans like him and the team could really use another starter now that Williams is gone..
Soria because the pirates need pen arms and he is pretty decent but on the down side of his career.
Both should be fairly cheap and not adding much if any payroll compared to the previous season…. uh besides the prorated thing…
they could use an outfielder for insurance. Pirates have some internal options but with Jose Osuna gone.. its a bit thinner.
Does MLBTR ever get any of these predictions correct?
Tim… I guess is that you probably will not read or respond to my comment. The Top – 50 List was seemingly ill prepared at the time it was posted and has become glaringly outdated quickly. In past years, the list seemed well prepared but this year seemed thrown together at the last minute. The inclusion of; Rick Porcello, Cole Hamels and Chris Archer was massive over reaching on your part.
The projections also seemed to fail to take into account any peripheral spending by non contending teams. When looking at the projections in hindsight gives one depth but ,they still failed to consider the outliers.
A few players within the top – 30 did not belong as high as they were surely ranked.
Favoring past performances that seem to go back to 2018 should not even been under consideration. With last season being a inconclusive mathematical theatre of the absurd, 2019 should have weighed much more heavily in overall projections.
In his defense:
There was an extraordinary number of veterans who were waived or non-tendered due to the financial uncertainty in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak last year that continues to impact MLB as we post. This added an additional glut to the original list of ‘normal’ free agents that are known shortly after the conclusion of the World Series.
In the future and regardless of any unusual events like a pandemic or potential work stoppage (2021?), it might be wise to hold off of on any future free agent contests until after the non-tender date which is typically around December 1st. A few of the ‘normal’ FA’s might sign by then but a whole lot more are typically added at that deadline.
I think the Cardinals ought sign Jake Odorizzi. He’s a Metro East resident and was a lifelong Cardinals fan. It would be a great PR move if nothing else.
So MLBTR has 5 right with 4 left to sign…
Wow…Overwhelmingly incorrect except for some players returning to their 2020 team. It sure is tough to factor out team bias in guessing who goes where.