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MLB Free Agent Predictions

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Who is going where? Great question. Here are some answers for the top 25 at least.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Even though this offseason promises to be a bigger snoozefest than some of the most recent snoozefests, there are still free agents out there who will eventually sign new deals to wear clothes sporting either a city, team name or both at various times. After contracts are signed, some adults will say mean things about these players for signing a contract to perform their jobs elsewhere. Others will thank them for their time while wearing their favorite outfit. In the end, a new season will start (probably) in April (probably) and there are going to be people wearing different clothes than they’ve worn in the past. That’s where I come in. I’m going to tell you where they’re going and for how much. You can see the list below, but I’m going to offer up some explanations after, so stick around after you scroll through the picks. Oh yeah, for reference sake, these are all based on the Fangraphs rankings this season.

2020/2021 MLB Free Agent Predictions

Rank Free Agent 2020 Team 2021 Prediction Years Total Dollars
Rank Free Agent 2020 Team 2021 Prediction Years Total Dollars
1 JT Realmuto Phillies Mets 5 $145 million
2 George Springer Astros White Sox 5 $130 million
3 Trevor Bauer Reds Mets 4 $140 million
4 Marcus Semien A's Angels 2 $27 million
5 Marcell Ozuna Braves Astros 3 $57 million
6 DJ LeMahieu Yankees Yankees 4 $64 million
7 Masahiro Tanaka Yankees Yankees 2 $24 million
8 He-seong Kim Korea Phillies 5 $45 million
9 Didi Gregorius Phillies Reds 3 $36 million
10 Justin Turner Dodgers Dodgers 2 $24 million
11 Marcus Stroman Mets Astros 3 $42 million
12 Michael Brantley Astros Braves 2 $26 million
13 James Paxton Yankees Mets 1 $14 million
14 Kevin Gausman Giants Giants 1 $18.9 million
15 Liam Hendriks A's Phillies 3 $30 million
16 Andrelton Simmons Angels Cardinals 1 $11 million
17 Joc Pederson Dodgers Angels 1 $9 million
18 Jackie Bradley, Jr. Red Sox Royals 2 $21 million
19 Tommy La Stella A's Nationals 2 $15 million
20 Nelson Cruz Twins Twins 1 $16 million
21 Trevor May Twins Blue Jays 2 $15 million
22 Taijuan Walker Blue Jays White Sox 2 $23 million
23 Brad Hand Indians Cardinals 2 $18 million
24 Jake Odorizzi Twins Mariners 1 $11 million
25 Drew Smyly Giants Marlins 1 $5 million

You got all that? Good. There aren’t too many big surprises here. The market is robust with quality shortstops, but it’s also not nearly what we’re poised to see next offseason with some of the best free agent shortstops the sport has ever seen if they don’t all simultaneously sign extensions that are mirror images of each other. So with that in mind, yes there are teams looking to fill a very important position but some of them want to be in position to fill it again next year. What it comes down to there is really a game of musical chairs. The one real shortstop surprise I’m predicting is with the Cardinals as they shift a solid defensive shortstop in Paul DeJong over to third to make room for the best defensive shortstop of our era in Andrelton Simmons.

I had a really hard time deciding if the Mets were going to go after just JT Realmuto or George Springer along with him, but ultimately figured they were probably satisfied enough with their outfield for the timebeing and are going to use some of their money to spend elsewhere, like on the best free agent pitcher on the market in Trevor Bauer. Maybe I’m buying into Steve Cohen too much here, but I think they’ll spend early and spend often and Bauer is a great fit here to pair with Jacob deGrom at the top of their rotation. I have him on a longer deal, but I imagine anything he signs will come with opt outs.

Looking at the AL Central before I get to the Royals, I think the White Sox make another splash and sign their biggest free agent ever to round out an incredibly talented outfield with George Springer. I also see them adding a starting pitcher. My prediction here is Taijuan Walker, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them end up with James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, Marcus Stroman or really any of the free agents out there who can make a difference. I think they believe they’re very close to being a juggernaut and another arm or two will help them get there. I don’t know that I’m expecting much activity with the rest of the division. I think the Twins probably try for a couple starters and may land someone, but it might be a little farther down this list. I do expect them to keep Nelson Cruz in the fold, though. I can’t imagine the Indians spend any money after deciding that Brad Hand, one of the best relievers in the AL in 2020, wasn’t worth a one year deal for a relative pittance in baseball money.

And that brings us to the Royals. I’ve said before that they’ll be in on a big name bat, but probably fall short. I think they will be, but I really keep coming back to them landing on Jackie Bradley, Jr. as the guy they target and ultimately get. They need a center fielder and he plays an excellent center field. All the estimates have him at a very reasonable contract and my guess is the Royals overpay a bit to keep him out of Boston. If they can’t get him, and that’s a very real possibility, they’ll likely look to the trade market to find a center fielder.

They’re also likely to be in on some players lower on the list than I went through. For example, Trevor Rosenthal’s salary estimates seem to be universally around two years and $14 million. If that’s what it takes, I think they end up with him. Same with Greg Holland at the generally agreed upon one year and $5 million. Normally I’d be against that, but those are pretty safe and tame deals, so I’m all for it. As I mentioned last week, you’ll probably also see them on a veteran free agent pitcher farther down the list and maybe a corner bat after non-tenders come out. Carlos Santana is a guy who keeps coming up. I’m not sure I see that happening, but that OBP would look nice if he can figure out how to boost that BABIP.

What do you think? Give us your free agent predictions.