After witnessing an extremely remarkable World Series, the 2019 MLB regular season is officially over. While Nationals fans will want to embark on the glory of their first-ever World Series title, that’ll have to be extremely short; the offseason is upon us, and with two World Series champs among several high-profile free agents. So, who are the top 50 players who’ll test the open market? Let’s take a closer look, basing this off of their expected production for next season.
*Age Based On What It’ll Be Next Season
#50-#41: Puig to Diekman
#50: OF Yasiel Puig (Age: 28) (Predicted Team: ARI)
Puig looked like a steal for the Reds; he projected as an elite defensive presence with 30-40 home run power. Instead, the 28-year-old fell flat between the Reds and Indians this season, only mustering a 1.2 WAR and a roughly average 101 weighted-runs-created-plus (wrc+). A decrease in power, plate discipline, and defense are all concerns, and given his inconsistent play and volatile character, he’s probably looking at a one-year prove-it deal.
#49: RP Collin McHugh (Age: 32) (Predicted Team: TOR)
In 72.1 innings out of the bullpen, McHugh was tremendous for the Astros, finishing with a 2.72 FIP and 3.26 xFIP. However, he took a step back in 2019, especially as the team tried to transition him into being a starting pitcher. The 32-year-old is an excellent bounce-back candidate, as either a multi-inning reliever for a contender, or a back-end starting pitcher for a rebuilding team. The Blue Jays, for example, are a rebuilding team in the market for pitching, as are the Giants. A reunion with Houston is also in the realm of possibilities.
#48: SP Madison Bumgarner (Age: 30) (Predicted Team: ATL)
When fans think of Bumgarner, they remember his heroics from the 2014 postseason, in which he was the World Series MVP and closed out Game 7 for the Giants. However, in the past two seasons, the 30-year-old has been an average-at-best starting pitcher, posting xFIPs slightly over 4.30. Between the amount of hard contact he’s giving up, and the luck he gets playing in such a large ballpark, he has the biggest chance to be a free agent bust. In other words, I would not offer him a multi-year contract, as even the Giants have to move on. Assuming he moves on from San Francisco, there are rumors he’d like to be close to his hometown and play for the Braves.
#47: RP Nick Vincent (Age: 33) (Predicted Team: PHII)
By no means is Nick Vincent a game-changer, but as a shoo-in to give you a FIP in the low 4.00s, he provides consistency and stability for a team in need of bullpen help. He didn’t get a major league offer last offseason, and if that’s the case again this offseason, he has the potential to be a terrific value signing.
#46: OF Cameron Maybin (Age: 33) (Predicted Team: SF)
Maybin was dismissed by two teams with awful outfields last season (Giants and Indians), but hit his stride with the Yankees, posting a 127 wrc+ in a limited role. With a very lucky .365 batting average balls in play (BABIP), declining defense, and a track record of being a below-average hitter, he definitely isn’t worth more than a one-year flyer, but he should at least provide 1-2 WAR for a team in need of outfield depth.
#45: 1B Jose Abreu (Age: 32) (Predicted Team: CHW)
Abreu means a lot more to the White Sox as a veteran mentor than to any other team; it’s almost a given he returns to the South Side. Although he’s a slightly above-average offensive producer, he doesn’t do much else (he has a very low walk rate), and as a result, is capped out as a 2-win player at best. Even if he’s destined to return to the White Sox, they better be careful not to overpay.
#44: 1B Justin Smoak (Age: 33) (Predicted Team: MIN)
Last season wasn’t ideal for Smoak, who had just a 0.2 WAR and a 101 wrc+. However, he still managed a .342 on-base percentage due to his 15.8% walk rate, and his .223 BABIP doesn’t correlate with his 42.7% hard contact rate. I fully expect a bounce-back season for him; he’s a great buy-low candidate for teams that need a first baseman.
#43: C Alex Avila (Age: 32) (Predicted Team: ARI)
While there appears to be mutual interest between the Diamondbacks and Alex Avila in a contract extension, I really hope he tests the market. The 32-year-old has his flaws (strikeout problems and not being a starter in recent years), but he has a combination of incredible plate discipline and quality defense; he’s a starting-caliber catcher, and could even earn a multi-year contract this offseason.
#42: RP Jared Hughes (Age: 34) (Predicted Team: CHC)
Like Vincent, Hughes doesn’t have much upside, but is a consistent veteran option in the bullpen. While his strikeout to walk numbers weren’t good this season, he continues to induce a high ground ball rate in a launch angle era, and had really poor home run luck this season. By no means would I offer him a multi-year contract, but he definitely is useful on a cheap one-year contract.
#41: OF Nicholas Castellanos (Age: 27) (Predicted Team: ATL)
Castellanos has been a productive player, but he also comes with practically every possible red flag. Not only is his BABIP way too high for a prototypical “slugger”, but his offense isn’t that spectacular, and he’s a defensive liability. At just 27-years-old, without a qualifying offer, and coming off of a great end to the season as a Cub, he should secure a multi-year contract, though personally, I’d stay away from him if I were a general manager.
#40 to #31: Iglesias to Kendrick
#40: SS Jose Iglesias (Age: 28) (Predicted Team: MIL)
With above-average defense, Iglesias has always been a solid 2 WAR player. However, given his lack of plate discipline and power, it’s not a certainty that he’s strong enough offensively to be a starting shortstop, though he’d definitely be a fine option for a team like the Brewers, who got zero production from Orlando Arcia this season
#39: RP Jake Diekman (Age: 33) (Predicted Team: WSH)
Over the past two seasons, Diekman has been practically the same player, posting xFIPs of 4.13 and 4.14, respectively. While he’ll always have issues with free passes, his high strikeout rate more than makes up for that, and he was actually better versus righties last season. He had to settle for a one-year deal with the Royals last offseason, but I expect him to do better this offseason, given the demand for lefty relievers with the ability to pitch to righties; Diekman could benefit from the new three-batter minimum rule.
#38: OF/1B Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (Age: 27) (Predicted Team: SF)
Tsutsugo, a Japenese star, is expected to be posted this offseason, and should have a strong market. His left-handed power and on-base skills give him a similar profile to Kyle Schwarber, who’s been a very underrated player for the Cubs. While I do have some concerns regarding his defense, he’s essentially a better version of Castellanos; the 27-year-old is definitely worth a gamble at the right price.
#37: 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion (Age: 37) (Predicted Team: TB)
Encarnacion had a bounce-back season between the Mariners and Yankees, posting a 2.5 WAR and 129 wrc+. Then again, he’s 37-years-old, and can’t be counted on to be an everyday fielder; his market will be extremely limited. Given he had a low BABIP, and improved his plate discipline, though, he’s still a useful asset, and could be the bat that a team like the Rays, White Sox, Rangers, or even Twins could use.
#36: RP Brandon Kintzler (Age: 35) (Predicted Team: CHW)
Once again, Kintzler may not be an exciting bullpen option, but considering what he’d cost, he’s definitely a worthwhile target for several teams. His strikeout numbers have continuously improved, and he also induced ground balls at a solid 54.7% rate. He’s closer to the Vincent/Hughes tier of being a 4.00 FIP type of pitcher, but that’s still valuable.
#35: RP Pedro Strop (Age: 34) (Predicted Team: LAA)
Strop’s nowhere close to the high-quality reliever he was during the Cubs’ world series run in 2016, as his walk rate climbed over 4.00 this past season. Still, with a 10.58 K/9, 52.9% ground ball rate, and a 3.94 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) this past season, he’s a risk-free option for teams, especially if he settles for a one-year deal.
#34: INF Asdrubal Cabrera (Age: 34) (Predicted Team: WSH)
Cabrera declined significantly on offense this season, posting a below-average 98 wrc+. Still, he was much better upon signing with the Nationals after being released by the Rangers, improved his walk rate, and had a career-high hard contact rate. Even better, his once atrocious defensive metrics took a major step forward; he had 4 defensive runs saved in a very small sample size. He could very well be a starting-caliber second baseman, but he’d also work as a depth piece, particularly for Washington, who have a major hole at second base (though top prospect Carter Kieboom could theoretically fill that spot).
#33: OF Kole Calhoun (Age: 32) (Predicted Team: TOR)
Calhoun had an awful season in 2018, finishing with a 0 WAR; he was the definition of a replacement-level player. However, he went back to his usual ways this season, posting a 2.5 WAR and 108 wrc+. As a solid defender with good plate discipline and power, he’s definitely capable of being a starting outfielder for a contender, though he’s another player likely looking at a one-year contract.
#32: RP Sergio Romo (Age: 37) (Predicted Team: MIN)
It wasn’t a great season for Romo, who had just a 8.95 K/9 and 4.68 FIP. Still, he has a long track record of being a consistent reliever, gave up less hard contact, and had a very respectable 3.98 SIERA. Due to his age and minor struggles, he probably won’t be guaranteed a major league roster spot this offseason, but the team that signs him will surely be getting a good deal.
#31: INF Howie Kendrick (Age: 36) (Predicted Team: WSH)
Kendrick is likely to be overvalued due to his postseason success; I’d be shocked if Washington didn’t overpay to bring him back. After all, he relied on a high BABIP this season, has poor plate discipline, and is also 36-years-old. At the same time, his ability to play multiple positions at a league-average level, and his career-high hard contact rate, indicate that he can be a useful utility player; if that’s his role, he’ll provide solid value.
#30 to #21: Moustakas to Hunter
#30: 3B Mike Moustakas (Age: 31) (Predicted Team: MIL)
For some reason, there’s a narrative building that Moustakas did enough this past season to finally earn himself a multi-year contract. However, he was practically the same player he’s previously been; a mid 2.0 WAR player who is a power threat, yet doesn’t do much else. He’s an average defender, doesn’t get on base much, and was also much worse in the second half. I expect him to remain a member of the Brewers, but anything more than a two-year contract for the 31-year-old would definitely surprise me.
#29: C Robinson Chirinos (Age: 35) (Predicted Team: HOU)
Chirinos doesn’t have much of a track record of being an everyday starter behind the plate; his career-high in games played was 114 games for this past season. Furthermore, he’s also been inconsistent, and is already 35-years-old. At the same time, he’s generally an above-average offensive producer and improved defensively this season; given the demand for catchers, he’ll have a large market on a one-year deal.
#28: SP Dallas Keuchel (Age: 31) (Predicted Team: CHW)
Keuchel’s inability to land a multi-year contract, or a contract until June for that matter, caused a lot of controversy last offseason. This offseason, though, he should be in line for a much better contract; not only did he replicate his success, but he doesn’t come attached with a qualified offer. While he won’t miss many bats, the 31-year-old’s success forcing ground balls (60.1%) and soft contract (20.4%) makes him a stable middle-of-the-rotation starter; a two-year contract seems fair for the former Cy Young award winner.
#27: C Jason Castro (Age: 33) (Predicted Team: LAA)
Castro may not be the elite defender he once was behind the plate with the Astros, but he remains an above-average framer; he still provides defensive value. Plus, this season with Minnesota, the 33-year-old also broke out offensively to the tune of a 103 wrc+, and had an astonishing hard contact rate of 51.7%. Since he’s not a sure thing as a starting-caliber catcher, he may have to settle for a one-year deal, but he’d be an upgrade for many other teams.
#26: C Tyler Flowers (Age: 33) (Predicted Team: ATL)
It’s likely that the Braves will exercise Flowers’ $6 million option; that’s a great cost for a starting catcher. If he does hit the open market though, the 33-year-old may get a multi-year contract; his defensive skills are marvelous, and although he isn’t a great hitter, his wrc+ of 92 over the past two seasons more than gets the job done. He’s a fringe top-ten catcher, and it’d be foolish for Atlanta to let him go.
(EDIT: Flowers Signed a One-Year, $4M Deal With Atlanta)
#25: RP Darren O’Day (Age: 37) (Predicted Team: COL)
O’Day has dealt with injuries the past two seasons, but when healthy, he’s a very underrated reliever. He’s posted a SIERA of 3.43 or lower in every season of his career, and has always had great K-BB numbers. Assuming he’s fully healthy, there’s a great chance he’d be a major steal for any team that signs him; I doubt he gets much more than a minor-league contract.
#24: OF Brett Gardner (Age: 36) (Predicted Team: NYY)
Gardner has been a Yankee for his entire career, and with center field Aaron Hicks undergoing Tommy John surgery, it’s likely New York once again brings him back on a one-year contract. While his power breakthrough probably isn’t legitimate, he has a similar profile to Calhoun with decent on-base skills and plus defense; he’d be more than capable of filling in for Hicks, or being a starter for any other team.
#23: RP/SP Robbie Erlin (Age: 29) (Predicted Team: CHC)
In a very confusing decision, the Padres let Erlin go recently, despite him having an extra year of service time remaining before becoming a free agent. With a very unlucky .373 BABIP and solid 4.14 xFIP, his 5.37 ERA is certainly deceiving, especially after having a 3.41 xFIP as a starter and reliever in 2018. The 29-year-old isn’t a huge strikeout guy, but does a great job of limiting free passes, and his ability to be both a middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher and a multi-inning reliever should be intriguing for every contender; he could be the classic overlooked signing that ends up playing a huge role in the outcome of a team’s season.
#22: SP Alex Wood (Age: 28) (Predicted Team: SF)
As he dealt with injuries, 2019 was very frustrating for Wood, who pitched just 35.2 innings with a 4.44 xFIP. Still, as a Dodger, the 28-year-old was consistently a low-end #2/high end #3 starting pitcher, and especially if he settles for a one-year contract, he’s another player who is bound to be a terrific signing for any team.
#23: SP Rich Hill (Age: 40) (Predicted Team: TEX)
Whether Hill actually keeps playing is a question, given his age and injury concerns. However, if used properly as a starting pitcher/relief pitcher hybrid, he should be an attractive option. Not only has he constantly had high strikeout rates, but he’s had a SIERA of 3.64 or lower in each of the past four seasons, and also is a lefty. I like him more as a multi-inning relief option, but either way, he could be a very useful signing. That is, if he continues to play.
#21: RP Tommy Hunter (Age: 34) (Predicted Team: SF)
Hunter was one of many Phillies relievers to have an issue with the injury bug, but there’s a reason the team brought him in a multi-year contract; he’s been a quality pitcher throughout his career. He may not have huge strikeout rates, but his K-BB ratio, hard contact rate allowed, and SIERA are always impressive; he’s a nice buy-low option for a team that could use a reliever, which is pretty much every team.
#20 to #11: Gibson to Morrow
#20: SP Kyle Gibson (Age: 32) (Predicted Team: LAA)
Gibson is another pitcher who had some injury trouble last season, but he still managed 160 innings pitched; I have no concerns about his durability. Over the past two seasons, the 32-year-old has been a very satisfactory starting pitcher, with xFIPs of 3.91 and 3.80, respectively, while his strikeout rate has also increased. He may not stand out, but you know what you’re getting from Gibson, which is worth something; if he’s available for a two-year contract, I’d jump on that immediately if I were a general manager for a team in search of pitching help.
#19: RP Joe Smith (Age: 35) (Predicted Team: HOU)
Smith has some durability concerns- he only had 25 innings pitched this season. Nevertheless, he always posts great K-BB ratios, is extremely tough on righties, and doesn’t have a clear weakness. He’s one of the better veteran option to patch up a team’s bullpen.
#18: C Travis d’Arnuad (Age: 30) (Predicted Team: TEX)
A headliner in the infamous R.A. Dickey trade, d’Arnuad appeared to be a major bust as a former top prospect when the Mets cut him loose early in the season. However, after catching on with the Rays, the 30-year-old broke out to the tune of a 107 wrc+ and 1.8 WAR, shining with his offense and defense. As an all-around catcher that’s clearly realizing his potential, he’s the second-best catcher in the open market, and if his market is compromised by his lack of track record, he could be an absolute steal on a two-year deal.
#17: SP Zack Wheeler (Age: 29) (Predicted Team: NYY)
After a strong second half in the 2018 season, Wheeler looked like a dark-horse CY Young candidate heading into 2019. He didn’t reach those heights, but with a 4.06 xFIP and improved peripherals, he’ll definitely earn a lot in free agency. Furthermore, he’s always been great at limiting the amount of hard contact he allows, and with an elite pitching arsenal, there’s a likely chance that a new team could improve his pitching selection to maximize his talents. Still, he’s certainly a risk, and also comes with a qualifying offer attached to him (he would cost the team that signs him a second-round pick)
#16: OF Marcell Ozuna (Age: 29) (Predicted Team: CHW)
Soon to be 29-years-old, Marcell Ozuna definitely is still in his prime, making a four-year deal a plausible goal for him. However, that doesn’t mean the former Cardinal is a slam-dunk free agent. After a 5 WAR season in 2017, he’s only been a high 2 WAR player the last two years, and has also declined defensively- his arm strength has disappeared. Still, with expected statistics based on his batted ball profile that are significantly better than his surface-level statistics, and an improved walk rate, there’s also a major possibility he could be a steal, even with him being attached to a qualifying offer.
#15: RP Craig Stammen (Age: 36) (Predicted Team: SD)
Ever since joining the Padres in 2017, Stammen has been a stable presence at the back-end of their bullpen. His highlight season came in 2018, in which he had a 2.97 xFIP and 4.87 K-BB ratio. Although his strikeout rate dipped last season, the soon to be 36-year-old still did a great job limiting free passes, and is able to induce ground balls and limit hard contact. He’s at the stage of his career where he’ll only get a one-year contract, but I’d sign him in a heartbeat.
#14: SS Didi Gregorious (Age: 30) (Predicted Team: CIN)
It was a rough season for Gregorius, who came back in June after undergoing Tommy John surgery only to produce an 84 wrc+ and 0.9 WAR. Nevertheless, he has a long track record of being a solid shortstop (previously had back-to-back 4 WAR seasons), as he’s an average defender with slightly above-average offense. He’s probably worth a multi-year contract, but if a team like the Reds or Brewers can convince him to take a one-year “prove it” contract, he could provide tremendous value.
#13: RP Drew Pomeranz (Age: 31) (Predicted Team: MIL)
It’s not uncommon for a starting pitcher to find success as a reliever, but rarely does the conversion happen midseason. Well, for Drew Pomeranz, not only was that the case, but he did so mostly after being traded from the Giants to the Brewers. Well, as a reliever, he was dominant, posting a 1.67 xFIP and 15.70 K/BB. Considering the added velocity he had upon the transition, this revitalization is probably legitimate; considering he can also pitch multiple innings and is a lefty, he has a lot of value. Despite the risk he carries, a deal in the neighborhood of the three-year, $27 million contract Adam Ottavino got from the Yankees last offseason makes sense.
#12: DH/OF JD Martinez* (Age: 32) (Predicted Team: BOS*)
Martinez elected to not opt-out of the remaining three years and $62.5 million left on his contract, which was definitely the logical decision. His offense did in fact decline last season, but he remains one of the best hitters in baseball, regardless of his high BABIP. However, given his age and defensive limitations, it was unlikely a team was going to offer him north of $20 million a year, since his only other fit as a designated hitter was probably the White Sox. Agent Scott Boras certainly knows the free-agent market well.
#11: RP Brandon Morrow (Age: 35) (Predicted Team: CHW)
Morrow had his $12 million club option declined by the Cubs, in large part due to his injured elbow, which caused him to miss all of the 2019 season. Medicals will be crucial for any team looking to sign him, but if healthy, he’s one of the better relievers in the MLB. He’s good for an xFIP around 3.00, a strong K-BB ratio, and really doesn’t have any red flags on the field. He could be one of the top free-agent signings on a one-year contract, assuming he’s fit to pitch.
#10: RP Dellin Betances (Age: 32)
Predicted Team: STL
Deserving Contract: 1 Year, $10 Million
Dellin Betances had as unfortunate of a season as someone could have; he worked so hard to get back healthy from a shoulder injury, only to tear his Achilles in his second outing. Still, since he didn’t undergo surgery, he should be back by the beginning of the season, thus minimizing some of the risk in signing him. Even if his health status remains unclear, the fact that the 31-year-old posted a 1.95 xFIP and 15.53 K/9 should be all the convincing that teams need in order to take a one-year flyer on him. He’s essentially a better version of Morrow, and is almost certain to provide terrific value if healthy.
#9: RP Chris Martin (Age: 33)
Predicted Team: ATL
Deserving Contract: 2 Years, $22 Million
Chris Martin is a great feel-good story; he revived in his career in Japan and has been a lock-down reliever ever since. This season, in particular, was the 33-year-old’s coming out party. With a 2.65 SIERA, 2.72 xFIP, and an otherworldy 13 K-BB ratio, there’s nothing not to like about Martin, who really is one of the best relievers in baseball. He won’t be talked about a lot during the offseason and won’t draw headlines once he signs, but he’s perfectly deserving of a multi-year contract worth over $10 million a year.
#8: 3B Josh Donaldson (Age: 34)
Predicted Team: ATL
Deserving Contract: 2 Years, $48 Million
When the Braves signed Josh Donaldson to a one-year, $23 million deal, they were making a logical bet that he could go back to his usual form after an injury-riddled 2018 season. That’s exactly what he did, accumulating a 4.9 WAR and posting a 132 wrc+. Not only did the 33-year-old once again show great plate discipline, but he also improved his hard contact rate, and was once again above-average defensively. His age prevents him from earning a massive deal, but he should still be an elite third baseman for the next couple years, and should be worth a two or three-year contract at around his AAV from last season.
#7: SP Hyun-Jin Ryu (Age: 33)
Predicted Team: MIN
Deserving Contract: 2 Years, $44 Million
Hyun-Jin Ryu may not be as dominant as his low ERAs would suggest, but with xFIPs in the low 3.00s over the past couple seasons, there’s no doubting that the 32-year-old is a front-line starting pitcher. Ryu is described as an “old-school” type pitcher, but that’s not a very fair notion- he strikes out batters at a decent clip, especially considering that he practically never walks anyone. A high left-on base rate, and the fact that his margin of error is so low with a diminished pitching arsenal are possible concerns, but nevertheless, Ryu appears to be as sure of a thing for as possible for a pitcher on an reasonable contract. That’s particuarly true, since he doesn’t come with a qualifying offer attached to him after accepting it last offseason.
#6: SP Stephen Strasburg (Age: 31)
Predicted Team: PHI
Deserving Contract: 5 Years, $130 Million
Even though he never appeared to live up to the hype as a former #1 overall pick, Stephen Strasburg has been nothing short of fantastic for his entire major league career. This season was a special season for 31-year-old, as not only did he top 200 innings, but he was terrific with a 3.17 xFIP and 3.49 SIERA, and as a result, will pick up some down-ballot Cy Young votes. Strasburg posts solid strikeout-to-walk ratios, limits hard contact, appears to be healthy, and this season with a change in pitch selection, was also able to induce more ground balls. Health may be the only potential red flag for the World Series MVP, who is a true ace and was smart to capitalize on his value by opting out and testing the open market.
#5: C Yasmani Grandal (Age: 31)
Predicted Team: CIN
‘Deserving Contract: 4 Years, $72 Million
JT Realmuto may give him a run for his money, but there’s a strong case that Yasmani Grandal, who has been worth 25 WAR over the past five seasons, is the best catcher in the MLB. After being somewhat overlooked on the open market – he did have a $60 million offer from the Mets – the soon to be 31-year-old will once again test the free-agent waters, this time without any draft pick compensation tied to him. Given the need for catchers around the league, his market is bound to be robust, and for good reason. His 17% walk rate gave him an incredible .380 on-base percentage, while his 45.4% hard contact rate gives him an all-around offensive profile. That’s not even the best part of his game- he’s an elite pitch framer, thus providing a team any more value. In other words, Grandal deserves to get paid heavily this offseason.
#4: RP Will Harris (Age: 35)
Predicted Team: MIN
Deserving Contract: Two Years, $30 Million
If you were to ask someone to name two Astros relievers, the first two would certainly be Roberto Osuna and Ryan Pressly. However, down the stretch, Harris was by far the team’s most reliable reliever, and is one of the top relievers in baseball. He’s very similar to David Robertson from last offseason, in that he’s consistently been great- he’s had an xFIP of 3.31 or lower in every year since 2012. He’s another reliever who posts great strikeout-to-walk ratios, and although he allows a lot of hard contact, 54.9% of his contact allowed comes via a ground ball. I’d trust him at the most critical moments of any game, and although $15 million a year may be a stretch, he’s a relatively safe target for teams.
#3: RP Will Smith (Age: 30)
Predicted Team: LAD
Deserving Contract: 3 Years, $43 Million
A hot commodity of the trade deadline, it’s not a sure thing that Will Smith will hit the open market, as he’s a candidate to accept the qualifying offer given the lack of interest in high-end relievers in free agency. Still, the 30-year-old definitely deserves a multi-year contract worth over $14 million a year. He may allow hard contact at a high rate, but it’s not as though he allows contact much (13.22 K/9), and he also was unlucky with the number of home runs he gave up last year. Considering his xFIP has been consistent in the mid 2.70s, he’s as reliable as a free-agent reliever can be, and he also comes with a nasty pitching arsenal that teams can look forward to tapping into. One can hope he’s not the next rendition of Craig Kimbrel- he’s a much better free agent than Kimbrel was.
#2: 3B Anthony Rendon (Age: 29)
Predicted Team: WSH
Deserving Contract: 6 Years, $195 Million
Another major free agent from the World Series winning Nationals, it’s more likely that Washington makes a concentrated effort to sign Anthony Rendon. After all, as a position player, he’s a more valuable player than Strasburg naturally, and although he’s gone under the radar, he’s one of the best players in the MLB. He’s had three straight seasons with a WAR over 6, and all of a sudden, he’s quietly on a Hall of Fame track. His walk rate nearly replicated his strikeout rate, his power is off the charts, he hits the ball hard, and he’s also a decent defender at third base- there are literally no concerns with his performance. Plus, with rumors swirling he may want a short-term contract, the amount of surplus value he could provide a team is off the charts. If he gets away from the Nationals, the Rangers, Cardinals, and other teams in need of a game-changing bat should be all over him.
#1: SP Gerrit Cole (Age: 29)
Predicted Team: LAA
Deserving Contract: 7 Years, $224 Million Contract
After what may the greatest walk year of all time for a pitcher, one that’ll almost certainly earn him the Cy Young award, Gerrit Cole is poised to become the highest-paid pitcher of all-time, per multiple reports. Luckily for teams in need of pitching, he’s one of the few pitchers of all time that’ll be worth the money he gets. There’s no word that can properly describe Cole’s 2019 season. His 13.82 K/9, 6.79 K-BB, and 2.48 xFIP prove his worth, and even though he’s a fireballer, he doesn’t even give up hard contact. He’s the best free-agent pitcher since Max Scherzer, who’s more than lived up to his $210 million deal from the World Series winning Nationals. Given the success of that contract, there should be no hesistation from contending teams to spend whatever it takes to land Cole, who seems destined to go back to Southern California and join the team that by far needs him the most, the Los Angeles Angels.