For the second consecutive winter, MLB enters an offseason at a crossroads. Final 12 months, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that forged a murky cloud over the league’s future. Now, the collective bargaining settlement between MLB and the gamers affiliation is about to run out Dec. 1. How CBA negotiations unfold will undoubtedly be the story of the offseason, making any predictions on participant motion really feel considerably fanciful.
Assuming the homeowners and gamers can come to an settlement in a comparatively well timed style (granted, that’s fairly a big assumption), this 12 months’s free-agent class is a giant one. There are star shortstops beneath 30 and beginning pitchers galore, with a number of intriguing buy-low choices for groups trying to soar into the contending tier or shore up any roster gaps.
2021 Free-Company Tracker: Who’s Going The place?
In fact, there’s no actual approach to predict how CBA negotiations will play out. The homeowners and gamers have many points to resolve, from the foundations of the sport to service-time manipulation and the construction of free company itself. Nevertheless the 2 sides hash out these crucial issues, the sport stays rife with expertise, and far of that expertise will probably be accessible on the open market in due time. Listed here are the perfect of the bunch, together with which staff we view as being the perfect match for every free agent.
A number of notes: Every participant’s listed age displays how outdated he will probably be throughout the 2021 season, and we’re utilizing FanGraphs’ model of wins above substitute. This web page will probably be up to date all through the offseason as gamers signal with groups.
Table of Contents
- 1. Carlos Correa, SS
- Age: 27 | Present Crew: Astros | Finest Match: Tigers
- 2. Corey Seager, SS
- Age: 28 | Present Crew: Dodgers | Finest Match: Yankees
- 3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
- Age: 32 | Present Crew: Braves | Finest Match: Braves
- 4. Marcus Semien, 2B/SS
- Age: 31 | Present Crew: Blue Jays | Finest Match: Blue Jays
- 5. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF
- Age: 30 | Present Crew: Giants | Finest Match: Mets
- 6. Trevor Story, SS
- Age: 29 | Present Crew: Rockies | Finest Match: Rangers
- 7. Max Scherzer, SP
- Age: 37 | Present Crew: Dodgers | Finest Match: Giants
- 8. Marcus Stroman, SP
- Age: 30 | Present Crew: Mets | Finest Match: Nationals
- 9. Robbie Ray, SP
- Age: 30 | Present Crew: Blue Jays | Finest Match: Mets
- 10. Kevin Gausman, SP
- Age: 31 | Present Crew: Giants | Finest Match: Purple Sox
- 11. Nick Castellanos, RF
- Age: 30 | Present Crew: Reds | Finest Match: White Sox
- 12. Javier Báez, SS
- Age: 29 | Present Crew: Mets | Finest Match: Giants
- 13. Clayton Kershaw, SP
- Age: 34 | Present Crew: Dodgers | Finest Match: Dodgers
- 14. Starling Marte, CF
- Age: 33 | Present Crew: A’s | Finest Match: Reds
- 15. Eduardo Rodríguez, SP
- Age: 29 | Present Crew: Purple Sox | Finest Match: Purple Sox
- 16. Chris Taylor, IF/OF
- Age: 31 | Present Crew: Dodgers | Finest Match: Mariners
- 17. Seiya Suzuki, OF
- Age: 27 | Present Crew: Hiroshima | Finest Match: A’s
- 18. Raisel Iglesias, RP
- Age: 32 | Present Crew: Angels | Finest Match: Dodgers
- 19. Brandon Belt, 1B
- Age: 34 | Present Crew: Giants | Finest Match: Royals
- 20. Michael Conforto, RF
- Age: 28 | Present Crew: Mets | Finest Match: Marlins
- 21. Carlos Rodón, SP
- Age: 29 | Present Crew: White Sox | Finest Match: Cardinals
- 22. Kyle Schwarber, OF/DH
- Age: 29 | Present Crew: Purple Sox | Finest Match: Purple Sox
- 23. Mark Canha, OF
- Age: 33 | Present Crew: A’s | Finest Match: Padres
- 24. Anthony DeSclafani, SP
- Age: 32 | Present Crew: Giants | Finest Match: Twins
- 25. Kenley Jansen, RP
- Age: 34 | Present Crew: Dodgers | Finest Match: Blue Jays
- 26. Avisaíl García, OF
- Age: 31 | Present Crew: Brewers | Finest Match: Brewers
- 27. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Age: 32 | Present Crew: Yankees | Finest Match: Yankees
- 28. Eduardo Escobar, IF
- Age: 33 | Present Crew: Brewers | Finest Match: White Sox
- 29. Jon Grey, SP
- Age: 30 | Present Crew: Rockies | Finest Match: Angels
- 30. Kyle Seager, 3B
- Age: 34 | Present Crew: Mariners | Finest Match: Blue Jays
- 31. Noah Syndergaard, SP
- Age: 29 | Present Crew: Mets | Finest Match: Phillies
- 32. Justin Verlander, SP
- Age: 39 | Present Crew: Astros | Finest Match: Tigers
- 33. Steven Matz, SP
- Age: 31 | Present Crew: Blue Jays | Finest Match: Rays
- 34. Nelson Cruz, DH
- Age: 41 | Present Crew: Rays | Finest Match: Mariners
- 35. Michael Pineda, SP
- Age: 33 | Present Crew: Twins | Finest Match: Mariners
- 36. Alex Wooden, SP
- Age: 36 | Present Crew: Giants | Finest Match: Braves
- 37. Alex Cobb, SP
- Age: 34 | Present Crew: Angels | Finest Match: Angels
- 38. Kim Kwang-hyun, SP
- Age: 33 | Present Crew: Cardinals | Finest Match: Giants
- 39. Jorge Soler, OF
- Age: 30 | Present Crew: Braves | Finest Match: Rangers
- 40. Eddie Rosario, OF
- Age: 30 | Present Crew: Braves | Finest Match: Braves
- 41. Collin McHugh, RP
- Age: 35 | Present Crew: Rays | Finest Match: Rays
- 42. Zack Greinke, SP
- Age: 38 | Present Crew: Astros | Finest Match: Phillies
- 43. Yan Gomes, C
- Age: 34 | Present Crew: A’s | Finest Match: Marlins
- 44. Tyler Anderson, SP
- Age: 32 | Present Crew: Mariners | Finest Match: Cubs
- 45. Mark Melancon, RP
- Age: 37 | Present Crew: Padres | Finest Match: Angels
- 46. Joc Pederson, OF
- Age: 30 | Present Crew: Braves | Finest Match: Nationals
- 47. Kendall Graveman, RP
- Age: 31 | Present Crew: Astros | Finest Match: Phillies
- 48. José Iglesias, SS
- Age: 32 | Present Crew: Purple Sox | Finest Match: Twins
- 49. Jonathan Villar, IF
- Age: 31 | Present Crew: Mets | Finest Match: Guardians
- 50. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
- Age: 32 | Present Crew: White Sox | Finest Match: Nationals
1. Carlos Correa, SS
Age: 27 | Present Crew: Astros | Finest Match: Tigers
Correa put to relaxation any considerations lingering after his subpar-2020 season with an excellent 12 months in ’21, throughout which he set profession bests in house runs (26), stroll price (11.7%) and strikeout price (18.1%). He did that whereas rating among the many top shortstops in outs above common, and his profession numbers within the postseason ought to set him up for an infinite payday this winter. Whereas there will probably be no scarcity of groups lining as much as pitch him, we see the Tigers—who completed the 12 months robust and might be prepared to leap into playoff competition—making a giant splash and luring Correa to Detroit, reuniting him with former Astros supervisor A.J. Hinch.
2. Corey Seager, SS
Age: 28 | Present Crew: Dodgers | Finest Match: Yankees
Take your choose between Seager and Carlos Correa for the top shortstop in a loaded class, however we’ll give Correa the nod for being the higher defender. How lengthy Seager can stay at shortstop is a query that’s lingered since earlier than Seager even reached the massive leagues, and he ranked close to the underside of the checklist on the place in outs above common in 2021. The bat has at all times performed, although: Seager hit .306/.381/.545 with 31 house runs in 147 video games over the previous two seasons, however his capability to stay within the lineup each day has additionally been a little bit of a priority.
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
Age: 32 | Present Crew: Braves | Finest Match: Braves
Freeman couldn’t have elevated his inventory any larger as he enters free company for the primary time. He adopted up his 2020 MVP marketing campaign with one other stellar season on the plate, capping it off by main the Braves to their first World Sequence title in 26 years. Freeman has missed a complete of seven video games over the past 4 seasons, and he’s had an OPS+ of 132 or higher in every of the final 9 years. Given how a lot he’s meant to Atlanta for the previous 12 years, it’s troublesome to think about him carrying every other uniform. Wager on the Braves to do no matter it takes to make sure Freeman spends his whole profession taking part in for a similar franchise.
4. Marcus Semien, 2B/SS
Age: 31 | Present Crew: Blue Jays | Finest Match: Blue Jays
After ending third in AL MVP voting in 2019, Semien faltered in a stroll 12 months in ’20, forcing him to choose a one-year take care of Toronto. He didn’t make the identical mistake twice, placing up a monster season that has him positioned properly for a giant payday. Semien performed beneath common at shortstop earlier than ’21 however excelled defensively at second base, in order that’s possible the place his future lies. He additionally received sooner regardless of turning 31 this season: His common dash velocity of 28.6 ft per second stands as his finest time since ’15 and led to a career-best 15 stolen bases in 16 makes an attempt.
5. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF
Age: 30 | Present Crew: Giants | Finest Match: Mets
Bryant put a depressing, injury-plagued 2020 season behind him with a powerful ’21 that locations him in a good place to hit the open market. Bryant’s stroll (10.6%) and strikeout charges (23.0%) returned to his profession norms, and he reached double-digit steals for the primary time since his rookie 12 months, doing so at a powerful success price (10 baggage in 12 makes an attempt). Bryant spent extra time within the outfield than at third base for the primary time in his profession, and it is going to be fascinating to see how groups view him defensively and whether or not he tasks to play on the scorching nook long-term. Wherever he performs on the diamond, he’s a secure guess to stay an All-Star-caliber bat.
6. Trevor Story, SS
Age: 29 | Present Crew: Rockies | Finest Match: Rangers
Story’s participant profile has quite a bit to love. He’s been sturdy, is at the very least a stable defender with good energy and velocity, and his strikeout price has declined in every of the previous two seasons to a career-low 23.4% in 2021. Story noticed a steep decline in BABIP this 12 months, with a .293 clip after a profession mark of .347 earlier than this 12 months. That’s possible tied to a dip in line drives and uptick in floor balls, although his common exit velocity and barrel price have been largely in step with his profession marks. A mechanical adjustment might be the treatment there, and would possible elevate Story again to his All-Star kind.
7. Max Scherzer, SP
Age: 37 | Present Crew: Dodgers | Finest Match: Giants
Scherzer was all the things the Dodgers hoped he’d be and extra, although after pitching on brief relaxation and out of the bullpen in October, fatigue lastly appeared to set in. Scherzer hasn’t topped the 200-inning mark since 2018 after doing so in every of the earlier six seasons, and enters free company at 37 years outdated. Nonetheless, this stays one of the crucial dominant arms within the recreation. Scherzer has an opportunity to set a brand new document for highest common annual worth with a short-term, high-dollar blockbuster take care of a contending staff.
8. Marcus Stroman, SP
Age: 30 | Present Crew: Mets | Finest Match: Nationals
It could be a tiny bit sacrilegious for us to position Stroman over the possible AL Cy Younger winner in Robbie Ray, who has a very good shot at reeling within the largest contract of any free-agent pitcher this offseason. However Stroman’s consistency earns him a better spot on our checklist. The 5′ 7″ dynamo (and stable Twitter follow) has recorded an ERA beneath 3.25 in three of his final 4 seasons on the sphere (not counting the 2020 marketing campaign, which he opted out of), talking to his elite capability to induce innocent floor balls. The ’17 Gold Glove winner can also be one of the crucial athletic pitchers within the sport, growing the chances he’ll age gracefully into his 30s.
9. Robbie Ray, SP
Age: 30 | Present Crew: Blue Jays | Finest Match: Mets
Ray rebounded from a depressing 2020 marketing campaign (after which he was ranked as our No. 37 free agent) to emerge because the AL Cy Younger favourite. He led the majors in strikeouts (248) and led the AL in ERA (2.84), innings (193.1), WHIP (1.05) and ERA+ (154). Within the course of, the hard-throwing lefthander racked up essentially the most strikeouts by 1,000 profession innings of any pitcher in MLB historical past. These accomplishments are made much more spectacular when you think about two of the three ballparks the Blue Jays referred to as house in ’21 have been extraordinarily hitter-friendly minor-league stadiums. Ray’s previous management points may cap the ceiling of his subsequent contract, nonetheless.
10. Kevin Gausman, SP
Age: 31 | Present Crew: Giants | Finest Match: Purple Sox
Gausman was the one pitcher giving Jacob deGrom a run for his cash within the NL Cy Younger race within the first half, when he allowed 22 earned runs in 18 outings, however crashed again to Earth after touring to Denver for his first All-Star Sport. All 5 of his begins with zero earned runs got here in his first 12 appearances (the precise quantity he made within the shortened 2020 season), and he gave up 22 extra hits and 4 extra house runs in 37.1 fewer innings within the second half. The previous No. 4 general draft choose looks as if a primary instance of a man who discovered it laborious to recalibrate to a 162-game season and needs to be a stable No. 2 starter for a number of extra years.
11. Nick Castellanos, RF
Age: 30 | Present Crew: Reds | Finest Match: White Sox
Castellanos enters free company coming off a profession 12 months on the plate, setting new highs in house runs (34) and wRC+ (140) whereas posting his lowest strikeout price (20.7%). Since 2018, he ranks fourth amongst all outfielders in RBIs (296), eleventh in house runs (98) and fifteenth in wRC+ (126). Castellanos has at all times punished lefties, however he hit righties simply as effectively in ’21, posting practically similar splits. Sluggers of Castellanos’s profile who don’t challenge effectively defensively will profit from the anticipated adoption of the designated hitter within the Nationwide League.
12. Javier Báez, SS
Age: 29 | Present Crew: Mets | Finest Match: Giants
Báez concurrently endeared himself to (along with his stellar play) and alienated himself from (along with his dismissive thumbs) Mets followers throughout his two months in Queens. The nice appears to have outweighed the (objectively hilarious) unhealthy, because the Mets appear interested by staying collectively. Báez, who struck out greater than any NL participant in 2021, was aided by an astronomical .390 BABIP in New York. However he additionally notched a career-best 7% stroll price in Queens, which might considerably increase his ground and endurance if he can carry that over into his 30s.
13. Clayton Kershaw, SP
Age: 34 | Present Crew: Dodgers | Finest Match: Dodgers
For the primary time in his storied profession, Clayton Kershaw is a free agent. As has been the case for the final a number of seasons, the lefthander was efficient when he was in a position to get on the mound in 2021, even when his 3.55 ERA represents his worst since his rookie 12 months in ’08 (significantly). Kershaw missed two months whereas coping with elbow and forearm irritation on his pitching arm, returned in mid-September however then left his Oct. 1 begin with the identical challenge and didn’t pitch within the postseason. His well being would be the largest figuring out think about what sort of deal he will get, and makes him a very troublesome participant to rank on this checklist. A return to Los Angeles continues to be attainable though Kershaw wasn’t prolonged a qualifying provide, if solely as a result of it’s laborious to think about him carrying something aside from a Dodgers jersey.
14. Starling Marte, CF
Age: 33 | Present Crew: A’s | Finest Match: Reds
It was an excellent platform 12 months for Marte, who set profession highs for on-base share (.381), WAR (5.4), hard-hit price (39.4%) and OPS+ (132) at age 32. The catalyst appears to have been an increased willingness to take his walks when forward within the rely. Marte additionally tied his earlier profession excessive of 47 stolen bases whereas being caught simply 5 instances for an outstanding 90% success price. He’d most likely be a greater slot in left area on protection, however he can nonetheless maintain it down in heart if mandatory.
15. Eduardo Rodríguez, SP
Age: 29 | Present Crew: Purple Sox | Finest Match: Purple Sox
After lacking all the 2020 season with a coronary heart situation, Rodríguez returned to kind in ’21 to assist lead the Purple Sox to the ALCS. The lefthander made 31 begins and notched profession bests in strikeout price (27.4%) and stroll price (7.0%). Rodríguez’s 4.74 ERA obfuscates simply how efficient he was, as his anticipated ERA (3.55) and FIP (3.32) point out he pitched significantly higher than his outcomes. Boston wants all of the pitching assist it may get to orchestrate a repeat of final season, so a reunion wouldn’t be an enormous shock—although it’ll have loads of competitors.