Ranking MLB’s top 87 free agents: Who’s still available?

If Major League Baseball is indeed a copycat industry, it is should be a profitable winter for free agents.

Five years after management’s indifference led to a frightening multi-year depression for top players, a year after a 99-day lockout that split a red-hot market in half and led to a frenzied signing period just a few days after opening, some semblance stability returned to baseball.

The 2020-2021 COVID-19 cancellations and restrictions have largely disappeared. A five-year collective bargaining agreement has been struck, even though the onerous qualifying offer will still go to a handful of free agents.

And 2023 should feel like something close to a “normal” season for the first time since 2018, devoid of labor disputes, baseballs and emerging infectious diseases. What’s more, when the very aggressive San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies joined the hardy Houston Astros and New York Yankees in Baseball’s Final Four, the owners got a not-so-subtle reminder that aggression helps. Consumption helps.

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In the meantime, take a look at the top 87 free agents, from the elite to those expected to sign with the major leagues. Ratings based on projected future performance and estimated market value:

Carlos Correa spent the 2022 season with the Minnesota Twins.
Carlos Correa spent the 2022 season with the Minnesota Twins.

(Age as of April 1, 2023; team 2022)

1. Aaron Judge (30, HR, Yankees)

He doesn’t occupy the most premium position in the game, but Judge has a lot of factors in his favor: a potential two-coast war, a Yankees franchise that needs to be highly motivated to keep him, and, oh yeah, the AL 62 Homers record he Googled in last season. The Judge may not get the long-term deal that the younger shortstop on this list might get, but the high annual value and great appeal should put him at the top of the market this winter.

SIGNED: Nine years, $360 million to the Yankees, December 7th..

2. Carlos Correa (28 years old, SS, twins)

A year after topping that list, Correa returned after accepting a lockout-based no-part deal that netted him $35.5 million last season. After Correa doubled his on-base percentage (.366), increased his adjusted OPS (140) but missed some defensive stats, Correa is a year older but just as good. If last year 10 years and $350 million was a mind blowing figure, why not nine years and $315 million this time?

SIGNED: Six years, $200 million with Gemini, January 10th.

3. Treya Turner (29 years old, SS, Dodgers)

If Correa is the No. 1 shortstop, then Turner is much 1A, a year older but faster, better on the field but with less power, less reliable in walking speed and OBP, but also a legitimate game changer. Will the Dodgers realize how special their Turner-Mookie-Betts-Freddie Freeman power trio is, or will they return to “fiscal responsibility” and replace Turner on the inside? Either way, he will attract huge interest from Philadelphia to Frisco and has every chance of breaking the $300 million barrier.

SIGNED: 11 years, $300 million with the Phillies, Dec. 5

4. Xander Bogaerts (30, SS, Red Sox)

Like Judge, Bogarts has a significant factor in his favor: the huge market is quickly becoming impatient with his front office and ready to howl in protest if a major player leaves through free agency. The departure of Bogaerts only added to the unrest in Boston a year ahead of free agent Raphael Devers. Yes, and he knows how to play: Bogarts posted 6.1 fWAR last season and led all shortstops with .377 OBP.

SIGNED: 11 years old, $280 million at Padres, December 7th..

5. Dansby Swanson (29, SS, Braves)

If you don’t consider Swanson a “franchise player” like Correa or Turner, further study may be needed. Swanson beat all shortstops in above-average strikeouts (21) and was only behind Francisco Lindor with 6.4 WAR. Now that he’s gotten stronger, averaging 26 homers over the past two seasons, Swanson has a lot to love about beyond the fact that he’s defended five consecutive division champions.

SIGNED: Seven years, $177 million with the Cubs, December 17th..

Jacob de Grom received the NL Cy Young Award in 2018 and 2019.
Jacob de Grom received the NL Cy Young Award in 2018 and 2019.

6. Jacob deGrom (34, JV, Mets)

Is there a more volatile player in the market? DeGrom shows the strengths of two-time award winner Cy Young and a guy who hit 14.3 batters per nine innings in each of his last two seasons, as well as the weaknesses of a pitcher limited to 26 starts in those two years due to various injuries. Maybe the Mets won’t complicate matters, offer him a deal similar to that of teammate Max Scherzer (three years, $130 million), and everyone closes it at $43 million a year. But would deGrom want more guaranteed money? Will a serve-hungry team ignore red flags and pay him like a rookie in his prime?

SIGNED: Five years, $185 million with the Rangers, December 2.

7. Justin Verlander (40, JV, Astros)

Verlander’s body may be in its 50s, but his elbow is only a year old and electrified in his first season since Tommy John surgery. While Verlander will still be subject to countless senile ailments, such as a calf injury that sidelined him for a few weeks near the end of the season, his new arm posted a 1.75 ERA and 185 strikeouts. Now, will an aggressive fiancé guarantee his desire that he will submit until he is at least 45 years old?

SIGNED: Two years, $86 million with the Mets, Dec. 5.

8. Carlos Rodon (30, JV, Giants)

Rodon combined career comeback dominance in 2021 with good health in 2022, with 31 starts and leading the Majors in strikeouts per nine innings (12) and fielding an independent pitching (2.25). A well-timed rejection means the best left-hander on the market will flirt with a nine-figure contract.

SIGNED: Six years, $162 million to the Yankees, Dec. 15..

9. Wilson Contreras (30, C, Cubs)

Are the Cubs ready to say goodbye to the last day-to-day connection with their World Series winners? They could do worse than keep a catcher who is still a four-win player who can still churn out .815 OPS and be an important part of any club’s backbone.

SIGNED: Five years, $87.5 million at the Cardinals, Dec. 7.

10. Tyler Anderson (33, JV, Dodgers)

Feel free to scoff at the pitcher who nearly halved his ERA to 2.57 and made it to the All-Star Game after beating four clubs in the previous three years. We tend to believe Anderson’s breakthrough that his true self will end up somewhere between his ERA and his FIP of 3.31, assuming a club well versed in getting the most out of him, as the Dodgers did, inclined to buy it. career season.

SIGNED: Three years, $39 million with the Angels, Nov. 15.

In 2022, Brandon Nimmo played in a career-high 151 games and scored 102 points.
In 2022, Brandon Nimmo played in a career-high 151 games and scored 102 points.

11. Brandon Nimmo (30, CF, Mets)

Despite having two of his last five seasons cut short by injury, it’s hard to argue with Nimmo’s offensive consistency over that period: .837 OPS (134 adjusted), .388 OBP and 55 off-base hits in 162 games. In 2022, he was on the edge of the elite in midfield and will hold the premium position and top spot for any contender.

SIGNED: Eight years, $162 million at the Mets on Dec. 8..

12. Chris Bassitt (34, JV, Mets)

He may not be an ace, but Bassit has quite a lot of money in the pot since he’s starting number 3. Bassitt held back the Mets rotation when Scherzer and deGrom were injured, and his WHIP, ERA, and strikeout ratio fluctuated in the same range for the past four years. A big market fan with a recognized #1 would be an ideal candidate.

SIGNED: Three years, $63 million at the Blue Jays, Dec. 12..

13. Kenley Jansen (35, RP, Braves)

His price skyrocketed when Edwin Diaz accepted $105 million to return to the Mets, putting a cap on pitchers and removing the best from the market. Jansen received $80 million from the Dodgers six years ago, and while it may not be realistic, supply and demand will push his price up after he led the Majors in saves (41) and knocked out 12 batters in nine innings.

SIGNED: Two years, $32 million with Red Sox, Dec. 7..

14. Anthony Rizzo (33, 1B, Yankees)

Despite posting a low .224 career batting average all season, Rizzo still hit 32 at Yankee Stadium, and his .817 OPS was his best since 2019. Great demand for the mid-level racket and the Golden Glove. caliber defender.

SIGNED: Two years, $40 million to the Yankees, Nov. 15..

15. Nathan Eovaldi (31, JV, Red Sox)

Time is Eovaldi’s friend and foe. He’s five years before Tommy John’s surgery and just a year after the All-Star campaign, where he struck out 195 and led the AL in starts (32) and FIP (2.79). But injuries have limited him to 20 starts this year, and the mileage on his body could make it difficult to land more than a four-year deal.

SIGNED: Two years, $34 million with the Rangers, Dec. 27.

16. Taijuan Walker (30, SP, Mets)

After ten years of failing, Walker has come to where he is, and it’s pretty good: 3.65 FIP, which mirrors his 3.49 ERA, and 1.20 WHIP, which will look great in the market. Walker has made 29 starts in each of the last two seasons and represents a solid mid-level rotation option, especially since he won’t be burdened with a qualifying offer like his teammates Bassitt and deGrome.

SIGNED: Four years, $72 million with the Phillies, Dec. 6..

17. Josh Bell (30, 1B, Padres)

Few derailleur hitters offer as much plate coverage and power potential as the 6-4, 260-pound Bell. He struggled after the midseason trade, his OPS dropping from .877 in Washington to .587 in San Diego, but offering a career .351 OBP and an easily expected 25 homers.

SIGNED: Two years, $33 million in The Guardians, Dec. 6..

18. Clayton Kershaw (35, JV, Dodgers)

Sounds like the same tune as before: “Back to L.A. on a short-term deal or in line at the carpool.” Maybe Rangers, maybe not. Either way, Kershaw has bounced back strongly from his elbow problems in 2021 with 22 starts and a 2.57 FIP, his best since 2016.

SIGNED: One year, $20 million with Dodgers, Dec. 5..

José Abreu is the AL MVP in 2020.
José Abreu is the AL MVP in 2020.

19. Jose Abreu (36, 1B/DH, White Sox)

His White Sox for…


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