2020 MLB Free Agent Rankings: How Much Should Each Free Agent Be Paid?

As the postseason winds down, it’s time to turn our attention to offseason. However, should it really be considered an “offseason”? Between the end of the postseason and the start of the next season, there is so much action; it’s honestly my favorite time to be a baseball analyst.

This free agency will be far different than anything we’ve ever seen, as several teams will be looking to cut costs due to loss of revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, there isn’t much high-end talent in this class, as only two players project to be worth over $100 million. Nevertheless, the depth is tremendous; teams that don’t look to lower their budget will be rewarded with the opportunity to significantly bolster their roster at affordable rates.

Today, we’ll go through the main 155 free agents. To simplify the list, each of these free agents will be placed into the following tiers:

Tier 6: Worth Less Than $2 Million

Tier 5: Small One-Year Contract

Tier 4: Up To $10 Million In Total Salary

Tier 3: Up To $20 Million In Total Salary

Tier 2: Up To $70 Million In Total Salary

Tier 1: The Premier Free Agents

To project their overall contract worth, I have constructed my models to use their stable metrics to predict their future projection, and by taking the implied value (how much better they are compared to the 67th percentile player at their position). The implied value is critical to contract projections, as a 67th percentile team is on pace to win around 94 games; why overspend on the 30th best player on a position when it’s going to put you at a disadvantage compared to the rest of the league. Additionally, outside of relievers, $3.75 million was subtracted for their mean $/year worth to take into account that they could get average production for $500K from a minor-leaguer, and about 1 of every 2 prospects would be able to provide that ($7.5 million divided by two). Lastly, to account for aging curves, $1.05 million is taken off of their $/year value from every age-30 season they’d be under contract. For instance, a five-year contract to a 30-year-old would require as shaving the total amount of the contract like this:

Age-30 season: Minus $1.05 million

Age-31 season: Minus $2.1 million

Age-32 season: Minus $3.15 million

Age-33 season: Minus $4.2 million

Age-34 season: Minus $5.25 million

Keep in mind that the contract projections aren’t necessarily my projections; there are done blindly based on their expected production. Thus, context is key when it comes to analyzing each move a team makes, so I’d recommended not taking these 100% literally; a player like Drew Smyly, for instance, has shown small stable improvements that make him likely worth more than what my model is estimating he’d be normally.

With the model projections, implied value, surplus value, and aging curves all being addressed, it is time to look ahead to the 2021 MLB free agency class! Who should teams target? How much should they pay? Let us get started!

TIER 6

  • Trevor Cahill had a very poor 2019 season with the Angels, but he’s had success otherwise, so he does project as a useful swingman pitcher.
  • Jose Iglesias may have posted a 160 weighted-runs-created-plus (wrc+), but that could not have been done in more unstable fashion; he walked at a 2% rate and relied on a .407 batting average on balls in play (BABIP)
  • Tyler Chatwood performed well in a small sample size this season, yet it’s hard to gauge too much from that.
  • Jed Lowrie would project as an everyday second baseman if healthy. The problem is, nobody has a class as to what his status is.
  • Jonathan Schoop and CJ Cron are a pair of Tigers that have a better reputation that their performance would indicate they deserve. Given their poor on-base skills, I’d look elsewhere.
  • Although Brandon Kintzler posted a 2.22 ERA for the Marlins, his peripherals did not back up that success at all.
  • I remained somewhat intrigued by Jedd Gyorko in a platoon utility role.
  • Boy, have the times changed for Mike Zunino and Wilson Ramos. Considered to be top-ten catchers just a. few seasons ago, they now profile as replaceable backups.
  • Yadier Molina is a Cardinals icon who has a real case for the Hall of Fame. That said, his production indicates he is on the decline, so he’s best served not being an everyday player.
  • Considered a hot commodity during the 2019 trade deadline, Ian Kennedy would figure to rank higher on this list. However, his 5.36 xFIP in 14.2 innings in 2020, in addition to a lack of a track record, means that teams should not break the bank for his services.

TIER 5

  • Tommy Hunter has not pitched much over the past two seasons, though his production should not be questioned.
  • A major weak-link for the Reds this season was their shortstop production; Freddy Galvis should not be asked to be an everyday shortstop.
  • At 40-years-old, who knows how much longer Rich Hill will keep pitching. If he does continue his career, you can count on him to be productive, but only in a 100-inning role at best.
  • Attention! Do not overpay for Alex Colome. A 0.91 ERA is impressive, yet a 6.45 K/9 and 4.26 xFIP is less so.
  • I do not understand why the Angels gave Julio Teheran $9 million last season, and after he struggled mightily, it will be interesting to see what his market is this time around.
  • Mark Melancon and Tony Watson have been productive throughout their careers, yet unfortunately don’t have the bat-missing “stuff” that they once had.
  • Daniel Descalso and Logan Forsythe could be steals in free agency as useful role players, even though they barely played in 2020 (combined 13 games, all from Forsythe).
  • Speaking of steals, Alex Wood and Drew Smyly come with some serious durability risk, but no one is question their abilities. A progressive organization with creative usage of their pitching staff, such as the Rays, Dodgers, or Giants, should be interested in them.
  • Pedro Baez and Jeremy Jeffress do not have appealing peripherals whatsoever.
  • Jake McGee will be one of the most interesting free agents when it comes to what type of contract he’ll command, He was a below-replacement level reliever for the previous seasons, yet in 20.1 innings with the Dodgers, he remarkably had a 2.10 xFIP and 11 K/BB ratio.
  • Andrew Chafin, Jesse Chavez, and Shane Greene are pretty stable options for teams in need of bullpen depth.

TIER 4

  • Once considered one of the top relievers in the MLB, Sean Doolittle’s last season of competent production was in 2018. He’s an intriguing bounce-back candidate, however.
  • I do not understand how Yusmeiro Petit constantly performs better than his peripherals indicate he should, though his deception is elite. Thus, I’d be comfortable paying him even slightly more than the $5.09 million my model indicates he is worth.
  • Sergio Romo and Brandon Workman are on the opposite side of the spectrum. Do you want stability? Go for Romo. Do you want a reliever who could either be dominant, even if his downside is being a borderline unusable? Go for Workman.
  • As someone who values offense over defense more than WAR does, I’m obviously going to be lower on Andrelton Simmons than most. Regardless, he is coming off of multiple seasons where he has struggled with injuries and simply hasn’t produced.
  • Howie Kendrick and Ryan Braun may be well into their 30s, yet still are useful role players.
  • Taijuan Walker, Jose Quintana, JA Happ, Cole Hamels, and Jon Lester all are uninspiring back-end starters that do not offer much upside, yet are at least proven low-variance commodities.
  • Garrett Richards would be the opposite, as he has wipeout stuff but may not even be able to provide a team with 100 innings pitched.
  • Blake Treinen represents the volatility of relievers. His strikeout, walk, and home run rates have all fluctuated tremendously, so I’d only offer him a one-year contract.
  • Some people are really high on James McCann. I see a catcher who has benefitted from a lot of batted-ball luck, but he could be a useful platoon option, though Tyler Flowers and Alex Avila would be my preferred catcher targets with better plate discipline and defense.
  • Two of the more interesting free agents this offseason will be Yasiel Puig and Trevor Rosenthal. Puig has the talent to be an everyday player, but is very volatile and was not coveted much in free agency last offseason. Rosenthal, meanwhile, went from being one of the league’s worst relievers to the dominant pitcher he was at his peak, though there is no way I’d offer him a multi-year contract.
  • Marcus Stroman is my pick for the free agent likely to be the most overpaid. Personally, I’d set my sights higher than on a pitcher with a career 7.36 K/9, but I’d expect him to land a multi-year contract.
  • What happened to Joc Pederson in 2020? An 88 wrc+ is a far cry from his previous production, which makes him a very appealing bounce-back target; he has. career 118 wrc+ and crushes right-handed pitching.
  • Didi Gregorious doesn’t walk or hit the ball hard, so I’ve never been sold on him. We’ll see if a team buys into his reputation or not.
  • His 2019 was a disaster, yet Rick Porcello has generally been a capable middle-of-the-rotation starter. A similar deal to the one-year, $9 million contract he signed with the Mets is a logical price for his services.

TIER 3

#37: C Jason Castro (Age: 33)

Recommended Contract: One Year, $10.09 Million

Jason Castro should only be seen as a platoon catcher; he is far better versus right-handed pitching. Nevertheless, he walks, hits the ball hard, and is a plus defender- that’s a very useful combination.

#36: OF Nick Markakis (Age: 36)

Recommended Contract: One Year, $10.89 Million

With three straight seasons with an on-base percentage over .350 prior to 2020, Nick Markakis still offers valuable offensive production. His plate discipline and bat control will continue to age well, making him worth another one-year contract.

#35: SP Mike Minor (Age: 32)

Recommended Contract: One Year, $10.98 Million

Based on his xFIPs, Mike Minor would appear to be just a back-end starting pitcher. However, there is more too it than that. He has improved his K/9 in each of the past three seasons, so if he can lower his walk rate slightly, I think he’s a very capable #3 starter. That’s worth a one-year, $11 million.

#34: 2B Jason Kipnis (Age: 33)

Recommended Contract: One Year, $11 Million

I couldn’t understand why a team did not sign Jason Kipnis to be an everyday option last offseason, and in a way, he delivered. His 102 wrc+ and 13.3% walk rate was encouraging, and I’m expecting his strikeout rate to regress back to the mean in 2021.

#33: 2B Tommy La Stella (Age: 31)

Recommended Contract: Two Year, $11.52 Million

With absurdly low strikeout rates and solid plate discipline, there is a lot to like with Tommy La Stella. He doesn’t hit the ball hard, nor is he a great defensive option, yet I’d be comfortable giving him a multi-year deal to be an effective utility player.

#32: RP Kirby Yates (Age: 33)

Recommended Contract: One Year, $11.73 Million

After he missed most of the 2020 season with an elbow injury, Kirby Yates will have an interesting free-agency profile. It’s surely not what he anticipated after multiple dominant seasons for the Padres, and he represents a chance for a team to get really nice value for high-end reliever.

#31: SP Chris Archer (Age: 32)

Recommended Contract: Two Years, $12 Million

Speaking of injuries, Chris Archer missed the entirety of the 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. A similar contract to the two-year, $10 million deal to the one Garrett Richards makes sense for a starting pitcher I’ve always thought has been underrated.

#30: DH Edwin Encarnacion (Age: 37)

Recommended Contract: One Year, $12.11 Million

2020 didn’t go as planned for Edwin Encarnacion, but are we really going to doubt someone who has posted a 129 wrc+ or better in seven of the past eight full seasons? If I were a team, I’d be comfortable giving him to the same one-year, $12 million contract the White Sox gave him last offseason.

#29: SP Jake Odorizzi (Age: 30)

Recommended Contract: One Year, $12.18 Million

It was a touch call for Jake Odorizzi as to whether to accept the qualifying offer last offseason. He opted to do so in order to continue to build his stock, and unfortunately, injuries prevented that from happening. We’ll see what his market is this time around without the qualifying offer.

#28: SP Corey Kluber (Age: 34)

Recommended Contract: One Year, $12.5 Million

Since he has only pitched 36.2 innings over the past two seasons, Corey Kluber is a risky free agent. At the same time, he had pitched over 200 innings in each of the previous five seasons, and had established himself as one of the premier aces. I’m incredibly intrigued as to whether the Rangers exercise his $18 million club option after trading for him last offseason.

#27: SP Robbie Ray (Age: 29)

Recommended Contract: One Year, $12.75 Million

After the 2019 season, Robbie Ray would have been in line for a hefty contract, given his strikeout ability. After posting a 7.84 BB/9 in 2020, however, I’m not sure he’ll get more than a one-year deal, which I would be happy to give him.

#26: RP Ken Giles (Age: 30)

Recommended Contract: Two Years, $13.3 Million

After undergoing Tommy John surgery, Ken Giles likely won’t pitch next season. However, a team could sign him to a two-year deal with the hopes of him being a high-leverage option for them in 2022.

#25: 3B Justin Turner (Age: 35)

Recommended Contract: One Year, $14.03 Million

Ever since he joined the Dodgers in 2014, Justin Turner has been the definition of consistency. He has posted a wrc+ of 123 or higher in each of those seasons, and is coming off of four straight seasons with an on-base percentage of .372 or higher. His defense has regressed and he is now 35-years-old, but I could even consider giving him a multi-year contract.

#24: UTIL Kike Hernandez (Age: 29)

Recommended Contract: Two Years, $14.65 Million

Players who can play every position are extremely valuable, so Kike Hernandez should draw some interest. The 29-year-old has made a name for himself with his ability to crush lefties (career 120 wrc+), and would fit a team like the Mets or Padres well.

#23: SP Masahiro Tanaka (Age: 31)

Recommended Contract: Two Years, $17.08 Million

Although his performance has declined, Masahiro Tanaka is still a very effective #2 or #3 starting pitcher. His command remains exceptional (career 1.78 BB/9), and whoever signs him will hope he can get back los striking batters out at a better rate (9.17 K/9 in 2018 competed to 7.37 K/9 in 2019).

#22: DH Nelson Cruz (Age: 40)

Recommended Contract: One Year, $17.54 Million

Since his performance has been slightly inflated by batted-ball luck, Nelson Cruz isn’t quite a slam-dunk option in the middle of one’s lineup. Still, he’s an accomplished offensive producer that likely returns the Twins on a lofty one-year deal.

#21: SP Anthony DeSclafani (Age: 30)

Recommended Contract: Two Years, $17.60 Million

He has never gotten much recognition, yet Anthony DeSclafani is a reliable starting pitcher. His strikeout to walk ratios have been generally above 3.5, and his home run rates should decrease at a more favorable ballpark; could the Giants, Nationals, or Twins covet his services?

#20: OF Robbie Grossman (Age: 31)

Recommended Contract: Two Years, $18.68 Million

Who would have thought that Robbie Grossman would be arguably the Athletics’ best hitter in 2020? The 31-year-old has always possessed exceptional on-base skills, but he never hit for much power. Well, that power came to fruition, and he’s now the latest example on why you shouldn’t undervalue a player due to an inability to have a high slugging percentage- hitting for power is generally volatile and can come with time. I’d be comfortable committing multiple years for his offensive production.

#19: 2B Jurickson Profar (Age: 27)

Recommended Contract: Two Years, $19.12 Million

Inconsistency has always plagued Jurickson Profar. At the same time, he’s a 27-year-old who is capable of posting above-average on-base percentage, and also offers some defensive versatility. That makes him a fit for practically any organization.

#18: SP Charlie Morton (Age: 36)

Recommended Contract: One Year, $19.69 Million

Truth be told, Charlie Morton won’t reach free agency; the Rays will either exercise his $15 million option, or he’ll retire. Tampa needs to be careful with their budget, but they should fit Morton’s club option into it; he’s one of the better starting pitchers in baseball. Six straight full seasons with an xFIP below 3.90 is quite the resume.

#17: OF Adam Eaton (Age: 31)

Recommended Contract: Two Years, $19.78 Million

Between 2014 and 2019, Adam Eaton posted an on-base percentage above .360. Sure, he doesn’t hit for much power, yet I’d gladly sign him to an affordable two-year contract; getting on base is the skill that reigns supreme.

#16: RP Liam Hendriks (Age: 31)

Recommended Contract: Two Years, $19.87 Million

With back-to-back seasons with a K/9 over 13 and a FIP under 2.00, Liam Hendriks may land the largest contract for a reliever based on average salary. I simply cannot get on board with paying big for relievers, which is why my recommended contract is much more modest. Still, he’s certainly one of the best relievers in the NFL.

TIER 2

#15: CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (Age: 30)

Photo Cred: The Athletic

Recommended Contract: Two Years, $22.28 Million

Best Fits: PHI, CLE, CIN, SF, MIA

Due to his defensive metrics never quite matching up to the eye test, even if he rated in the 99th percentile in Outs Above Average (OAA) this season, there is a perception that Jackie Bradley Jr. is not a productive player. Yet, he’s a fringe top-ten center fielder, as he walks at a decent rate, hits the ball extremely hard, and generally provides defensive value. If a progressive organization believes they can get him to elevate his swing path, he could even turn out to be a major steal.

#14: OF Michael Brantley (Age: 33)

Photo Cred: Houston Chronicle

Recommended Contract: Two Years, $23.18 Million

Best Fits: STL, HOU, MIN, DET, WSH

Do you want consistency? Look no farther than Michael Brantley. The 33-year-old has stayed healthy over the past three seasons, and thus, has been able to display his on-base skills (career .354 on-base percentage). Even more intriguing, he also improved his power, and overall, has a sound offensive profile- three straight seasons with a wrc+ of 124 or higher. Heck, he’s even been an above-average defender in the corner outfield, making age the only drawback. I’d expect him to come close to matching the $32 million he received from the Astros two offseason ago.

#13: SP James Paxton (Age: 31)

Photo Cred: The New York Times

Recommended Contract: Two Years, $27.14 Million

Best Fits: TOR, WSH, STL, SF, NYY

When the Yankees acquired James Paxton, they envisioned him being an effective #2 starter to Luis Severino, and this season, the expectation was that he would be the #2 option to Gerrit Cole. That never quite came to fruition, and he still has yet to pitch more than 160 innings in a season. Still, he has posted double-digit strikeout rates in each of the past four seasons, and if he goes back to throwing his four-seam fastball, I think he could get back to his peak form. He’s an analytical darling with perceived untapped potential, making it likely he gets compensated nicely in free agency.

#12: 2B Cesar Hernandez (Age: 30)

Photo Cred: That Balls Outta Here

Recommended Contract: Three Years, $30.68 Million

Best Fits: PHI, WSH, CLE, OAK, BOS

A common theme with free agents that I see as undervalued is that their on-base ability is under appreciated due to a lack of power. The same applies to Cesar Hernandez. Despite posting an on-base percentage of .355 or higher in four of the past five seasons, he hasn’t garnered much attention, and even was non-tendered by the Phillies this past offseason. For those who like Wins Above Replacement (WAR), he’s been an above-average player (2+ WAR) consistently, and ought to be rewarded with a better contract this offseason.

#11: 2B Kolten Wong (Age: 30)

Photo Cred; Forbes

Recommended Contract: Three Years, $32.25 Million

Best Fits: STL, WSH, PHI, MIL, NYY

Will the Cardinals exercise the $12.5 million club option on Kolten Wong’s contract? The 30-year-old is the one of the best defensive second basemen in the MLB, and he’s complemented that with generally average (range of 92 to 108 wrc+ in each of the past four seasons). The end product? A player who gets on base, wins gold gloves, and should easily have that option picked up.

#10: 2B Jonathan Villar (Age: 29)

Photo Cred: Toronto Star

Recommended Contract: Three Years, $38.78 Million

Best Fits: BOS, HOU, CHC, COL, PHI

Considering that my models value launch angle and sustainable success, it’s strange to see Jonathan Villar rated so highly. However, after digging deeper into his numbers, it makes sense. We’re talking about a player with a 2 WAR, 3 WAR, and 4 WAR season in the past five years; the talent is clearly there. The challenge is the optimization of it, which he displayed in 2019 with an elevated launch angle (8.2 degrees), an 8.5% walk rate, a 107 wrc+, and the league’s best base-running runs above average (BsR, 10.5). Given his sprint speed, he’s going to be able to run high BABIPs, and for that reason, he’s appealing; he gets on base enough, is a versatile defender, and is a major weapon on the bases. His market will be very interesting.

#9: SS Marcus Semien (Age: 30)

Photo Cred: Athletics Nation

Recommended Contract: Two Years, $41.9 Million

Best Fits: MIL, PHI, CIN, LAA, NYY

The A’s want to retain Marcus Semien, but I’d be very surprised if they come up with the funds to do so. Thus, he’ll be the best shortstop with major-league experience (more on another shortstop soon), even after posting a pedestrian 91 wrc+ last season. Sure, it’s concerning that the 30-year-old only has one season with a wrc+ over 100,. At the same time, there were a lot of stable components to that 2019 breakout (137 wrc+), whether it was an increased walk rate (11.6%), improved hard hit rate (38.1%), or an impeccably low chase rate (19.2%). Worse case, he’s an average hitter with tremendous defense. Best case? You could be getting one of the top shortstops in the game for a below-market rate.

#8: SP Kevin Gausman (Age: 29)

Photo Cred: NJ.com

Recommended Contract: Four Years, $51.6 Million

Best Fits: SF, TOR, ATL, LAA, NYY

Ever since he was the fourth overall pick in the 2012 MLB draft, Kevin Gausman has been expected to be an ace. It took a while, but with the Giants last season, he might have finally taken that step. In 59.2 innings with San Francisco this season, he posted a 3.05 xFIP and 4.94 K-BB ratio, and he experienced a 1 MPH bump on his fastball. His detractors will point to him giving up a lot of home runs and hard contact, yet when you’re missing bats and not walking hitters, I could care less. He’s another player whose market will be very interesting to monitor.

#7: 1B Carlos Santana (Age: 34)

Photo Cred: Let’s Go Tribe

Recommended Contract: Two Years, $53.55 Million

Best Fits: CLE, MIL, COL, MIA, TEX

Will the real Carlos Santana please stand up? To be fair, his peripherals have continued to be excellent; he has walked more than he has struck out over the past three seasons. The 34-year-old’s hard-hit numbers have been generally unstable, but when his power production is at an optimal level, he truly is one of the best first basemen in the MLB. I cannot state enough that offense is even more valuable than it is made out to be, and for a team aiming for a championship, he’ll provide great value. Cleveland should certainly exercise his $17.5 million club option.

#6: 2B DJ LeMahieu (Age: 32)

Photo Cred: Newsday

Recommended Contract: Three Years, $55.5 Million

Best Fits: NYY, WSH, PHI, STL, TOR

For the past two seasons, DJ LeMahieu has been arguably the Yankees’ most valuable player, and is my pick to win the AL MVP this season. Now, he has relied on some batted-ball luck, which should cause teams to provide with caution, yet there is a lot to like about him. Not only does he get on base at a high rate, but he also is coming off of his bedt two seasons from a power standpoint (.191+ isolated power), and offers defensive versatility. So far, the Yankees haven’t engaged in extension talks with the 32-year-old, but it’d be hard to imagine they let him walk.

#5: OF Marcell Ozuna (Age: 29)

Photo Cred: Redbird Rants

Recommended Contract: Three Years, $63.93 Million

Best Fits: ATL, STL, MIA, WSH, SEA

Last offseason, Marcell Ozuna passed on a multi-year contract with the Reds to take a one-year, prove-it deal worth the Braves. It’s safe to say that worked out tremendously. Here are the 29-year-old’s percentile ranks in various Baseball Savant statistics:

  • Exit Velocity: 96th
  • Hard Hit%: 97th
  • xwOBA: 99th
  • xBA: 97th
  • xSLG: 98th
  • Barrel%: 94th

That’s quite impressive, and builds off of a resume that includes three straight seasons with an xwOBA of .363 or higher. Even better, he has elevated his launch angle and drawn more walks, which indicates that this is not a fluke. His defensive value is in question, yet he’s the type of player that can take your offensive to a completely different level.

#4: SS Ha-Seong Kim (Age: 25)

Photo Cred: Yard Barker

Recommended Contract: Five Years, $65 Million

Best Fits: SEA, SF, MIL, BOS, BAL

For more information on Kim, who is a complete unicorn of a free agent I highly suggest you read my article on him over at Prospects Live.

After that, I encourage you to enjoy this beauty of a swing:

TIER 1

#3: CF George Springer (Age: 31)

Photo Cred: Climbing Tal’s Hall

Recommended Contract: Five Years, $86.75 Million

Best Fits: STL, WSH, HOU, CHW, MIN

Will George Springier leave the Astros in free agency? That’s the question many are wondering, as he’s been a key part of their dominance over the American League. Over the past two seasons, the 31-year-old has posted xwOBAs of .387 or higher, and has displayed excellent plate discipline. At the same time, he missed a majority of the second half of the 2019 season due to injury, so in total, that sample size of dominance is limited to 173 games. Overall, he has been a little too inconsistent for me to buy into the idea that he is worth $25 million+ per season, especially given his age; he’ll likely move to a corner outfield spot. Still, he’d be a major addition for a team like the Cardinals or Nationals, who desperately need to improve their offense.

#2: C JT Realmuto (Age: 29)

Photo Cred: That Balls Outta Here

Recommended Contract: Five Years, $100 Million

Best Fits: STL, PHI, WSH, NYM, NYY

By all accounts, JT Realmuto is seeking the largest contract given to a catcher ever; he’ll look to top Buster Posey’s $168 million extension that he signed with the Giants prior to the 2013 season. I cannot justify giving him that type of contract, but for the amount my model is recommending, I’d be much more on board. Quietly, the 29-year-old only had a 108 wrc+ in 2019, and his plate discipline is average at best (average walk and chase rates). The big selling point with him is his power, base-running, and defense, and to his credit, that combination makes him the second-best catcher in the MLB. Nevertheless, it’s likely that he is overpaid, and it’s even more possible that it’s the Phillies that do so. Yet, that won’t solve their pitching depth issues, so rather, I’d be much more intrigued for a deeper organization, such as the Cardinals, to pursue him to solidify themselves at a premium position that is generally scarce of high-end talent.

#1: SP Trevor Bauer (Age: 29)

Photo Cred: San Diego Tribune

Recommended Contract: Five Years, $117.5 Million

Recommended One-Year Contract: One Year, $26.7 Million

Best Fits: ATL, LAA, SF, TOR, MIN

If Trevor Bauer stays true to his word and seeks a one-year contract, then he ought to draw interest from practically the entire league. Although he struggled in 2019, the 29-year-old’s 2018 and 2020 seasons have gone as followed:

  • 2018: 11.34 K/9, 2.93 BB/9, 3.14 xFIP
  • 2020: 12.33 K/9, 2.10 BB/9, 3.25 xFIP

Heck, he even had a solid 3.60 xFIP in 2017! I don’t know what else there is to say about Bauer. He’s a progressive pitcher than is constantly improving (hence his remarkable development), has tremendous durability, and has been worth at least 2.5 WAR in each of the past five seasons. There aren’t any red flags to be worried about, especially on a one-year contract; he’s the ace that every team should pursue.

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