The off-season is here and it has begun this week with 131 players becoming free agents. They’ll be able to negotiate with other clubs by Thursday and with the labor war behind us and baseball flush with cash, you could see teams go on spending sprees. This should be a pretty good class of free agents, so I thought I would take a stab at ranking them by the size of the contract I expect them to get, with predictions on where they might land.
1. OF Aaron Judge, Yankees
.311/.425/.686 62 HR 10.6 rWAR
What a time to have a career MVP-type season! Judge had his best year in 2022 after rejecting a 7 year, $235 million offer from the Yanks. The Yankees should be able to top any offer, but the Steinbrenner boys aren’t quite as free-spending as their father was, and the Giants are expected to make a serious run at the California kid. But the Yankees just can’t let him walk after an MVP season.
Signs with: Yankees for 9 years, $320 million
2. SS Carlos Correa, Twins
.291/.366/.467 22 HR 5.4 rWAR
Correa signed a short-term deal with an opt-out last year when he didn’t get the mega-deal he sought amid the labor uncertainty, but he should get that long-term offer this year. Correa has put up two strong seasons in a row and is still one of the younger free agents available, so expect him to get a deal similar to Corey Seager’s last year. The Twins could try to bring him back, the Phillies are a possibility, and the Giants could look to make a splash with him if they don’t land Judge.
Signs with: Cubs for 10 years, $300 million
3. SS Trea Turner, Dodgers
.298/.343/.466 21 HR 4.9 rWAR
There is talk he wants to move back East, but the Dodgers can likely offer more than anyone else, he can play for a winner, and the weather is hard to beat. I can see the Phillies and Yankees making a run at him, but I’ll predict Turner stays put.
Signs with: Dodgers for 9 years, $270 million
4. SS Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
.307/.377/.456 15 HR 5.7 rWAR
There is a question of whether Bogaerts will even stay at shortstop - the defensive metrics point to a position change. He opted out of three years and $60 million on his deal, and the Red Sox dragging their feet on an extension makes me think they’ll let him move on.
Signs with: Giants for 7 years, $205 million
5. SS Dansby Swanson, Braves
.277/.329/.447 25 HR 5.7 rWAR
It took awhile, but Swanson has begun living up to his first overall draft pick pedigree. The Braves have been handing out long-term deals like candy, but were unable to reach agreement with Swanson, so what if he hops to a division rival?
Signs with: Phillies for 6 years, $144 million
6. RHP Jacob deGrom, Mets
3.08 ERA 2.13 FIP 64.1 IP 14.3 K/9 1.4 rWAR
The right-hander has made just 26 starts over the last two years, but he has still been dominant over that time. He’s a high-risk, high-reward free agent, and the Rangers are expected to make a push, but it seems like Steve Cohen will do what it takes to keep him in New York.
Signs with: Mets for three years, $132 million
7. LHP Carlos Rodón, Giants
2.88 ERA 2.25 FIP 178 IP 12.0 K/9 5.4 rWAR
Rodón went from being non-tendered to putting up a 2.67 ERA and 10.5 rWAR over the last two seasons. Now that he’s proven 2021 wasn’t a fluke, he should command a long-term deal as one of the best pitchers available.
Signs with: Rangers for 5 years, $130 million
8. OF Brandon Nimmo, Mets
.274/.367/.433 16 HR 5.1 rWAR
Nimmo is a machine at getting on base while keeping the strikeouts low. He doesn’t hit for a ton of power - only twice hitting double digits in home runs - but he could be a pretty good fit for spacious Coors Field with the Rockies said to be a major suitor.
Signs with: Rockies for 5 years, $100 million
9. RHP Justin Verlander, Astros
1.75 ERA 2.49 FIP 175 IP 9.5 K/9 5.9 rWAR
Father Time is undefeated, but Verlander is winning so far, putting up one of his best seasons at age 39. The Cy Young favorite should command a two-year deal somewhere with every big spending contender expected to pursue him.
Signs with: Yankees for 2 years, $88 million
10. C Willson Contreras, Cubs
.243/.349/.466 22 HR 3.9 rWAR
A good offensive catcher who is bad at framing? Sounds familiar. I would bet Contreras gets around what Salvador Perez got from the Royals with the Cubs, Mets, Red Sox, and Angels pursuing him.
Signs with: Angels for 4 years, $88 million
11. RHP Kodai Senga, Fukuoka Softbank Hawks
1.89 ERA 148 IP 9.7 K/9 (NPB)
The Japanese right-hander throws in the mid-90s with a diving forkball as a five-time All-Star and two-time strikeout champion. Expect the Cubs, Rangers, Mets, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Padres to pursue him, with no posting fee required of the free agent.
Signs with: Cubs for 5 years, $70 million
12. RHP Chris Bassitt, Mets
3.42 ERA 3.66 FIP 181.1 IP 8.3 K/9 3.2 rWAR
He should have a lot of suitors as a pitcher that is not as crazy expensive as the top end guys, and not as much of an injury risk either. His age probably prevents him from getting a four-year deal, but he’s been a solid, dependable pitcher the last few yeares.
Signs with: Blue Jays for 3 years, $57 million
13. 1B Jose Abreu, White Sox
.304/.378/.446 15 HR 4.2 rWAR
The 2020 MVP has been merely “very good” the last two seasons, but age looms over him. White Sox fans are clamoring for him to return, and he’d be a good mentor for the younger players in the lineup.
Signs with: White Sox for 3 years, $54 million
14. RHP Nathan Eovaldi, Red Sox
3.87 ERA 4.30 FIP 109.1 IP 8.5 K/91.5 rWAR
Eovaldi has a terrific strikeout-to-walk ratio and has been solid with Boston, although he has had some injury issues. He’d be a good gamble for a contender with some good upside, but you may not be able to depend on him.
Signs with: Astros for 3 years, $50 million
15. LF Andrew Benintendi, Royals/Yankees
.304/.373/.399 5 HR 3.2 rWAR
Benintendi’s numbers dipped in the Bronx and he got hurt, but he is interested in returning. I see the Yankees moving in a different direction, leaving someone else to appreciate his on-base skills.
Signs with: Tigers for 4 years, $48 million
16. RHP Jameson Taillion, Yankees
3.91 ERA 3.94 FIP 177.1 IP 7.7 K/9 1.3 rWAWR
He’s a strike-thrower, so I could actually see the Royals pursuing Taillon, although they may need to overpay a bit. He has had some injury concerns in the past but has been dependable the last two years.
Signs with: Twins for 3 years, $48 million
17. RHP Taijuan Walker, Mets
3.49 ERA 3.65 FIP 157.1 IP 7.6 K/9 2.6 rWAR
Another pitcher who was much cheaper two years ago, Walker’s issue has been health. But he’s been able to stay on the mound the last three seasons, and is finally living up to his prospect potential.
Signs with: Mariners for 3 years, $45 million
18. LHP Tyler Anderson, Dodgers
2.57 ERA 3.31 FIP 178.2 IP 7.0 K/9 4.3 rWAR
Some Royals fans may want to pursue Anderson, but the Royals really should be finding guys like Anderson before they break out. He signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Dodgers a year ago, they changed his arsenal, and now he’ll be one of the more coveted arms on the market.
Signs with: Cardinals for 3 years, $45 million
19. 1B Josh Bell, Nationals/Padres
.266/.362/.422 17 HR 3.0 rWAR
Bell didn’t hit well with the Padres, but he is still just 30 and has some good power potential. It’s just hard to find too many landing spots for first basemen right now.
Signs with: Astros for 3 years, $45 million
20. RF Mitch Haniger, Mariners
.246/.308/.429 11 HR 1.3 rWAR
It was a miserable season for Haniger, but he slammed 39 home runs a year ago, and has been a 6 WAR player in the past.
Signs with: Tigers for 3 years, $39 million
21. 1B Anthony Rizzo, Yankees
.224/.338/.480 32 HR 2.3 rWAR
The ban on defensive shifts could help the lefty slugger, but age is working against him. Still, he can help out a lot of contenders, so expect the Yankees to retain him.
Signs with: Yankees for 2 years, $38 million
22. LHP Martin Perez, Rangers
2.89 ERA 3.26 FIP 196.1 IP 7.7 K/9 5.0 rWAR
The lefty has been on one-year deals the last few years, but after a breakout All-Star season, he should command a multi-year deal. He’s a groundball pitcher with a low strikeout rate, so buyer beware.
Signs with: Rangers for 2 years, $32 million
23. 2B Jean Segura, Phillies
.277/.336/.387 10 HR 1.8 rWAR
He doesn’t have the power and speed he used to, but he’ s still a solid starter on a pennant-winning team.
Signs with: White Sox for 2 years, $28 million
24. RHP Noah Syndergaard, Angels/Phillies
3.94 ERA 3.83 FIP 134.2 IP 6/3 K/9 1.8 rWAR
He’s still pretty young for a free agent, but Thor’s velocity was way down last year, and his strikeout rate was down accordingly. It might not be a bad idea to convert him to a reliever full-time at this point, but my guess is some team starved for pitching comes running at him with a multi-year deal.
Signs with: Rangers for 2 years, $26 million
25. LHP Sean Manaea, Padres
4.96 ERA 4.53 FIP 158 IP 8.9 K/9-0.9 rWAR
The lefty had a pretty crummy season but was a 3 WAR pitcher in 2021 with Oakland. I could see a reunion with the team that originally drafted him - the Royals - although he has had some injury concerns.
Signs with: Royals for 2 years, $24 million
MLB free agent predictions
|Player||2022 team||2023 prediction||Contract|
|Player||2022 team||2023 prediction||Contract|
|RHP Zach Eflin||Phillies||Marlins||2 years, $24 million|
|RHP Rafael Montero||Astros||Dodgers||2 years, $24 million|
|RHP Ross Stripling||Blue Jays||Cardinals||2 years, $22 million|
|RHP Micahel Wacha||Red Sox||Giants||2 years, $22 million|
|LHP Clayton Kershaw||Dodgers||Dodgers||1 year, $20 million|
|OF Jurickson Profar||Padres||Giants||2 years, $20 million|
|LHP Jose Quintana||Pirates/Cardinals||Twins||2 years, $20 million|
|IF Brandon Drury||Reds/Padres||Nationals||2 years, $18 million|
|RHP Robert Suarez||Padres||Mets||2 years, $18 million|
|LHP Taylor Rogers||Brewers/Padres||Mariners||2 years, $18 million|
|RHP Kanley Jansen||Braves||Dodgers||1 year, $18 million|
|C Christian Vazquez||Red Sox/Astros||Cardinals||2 years, $16 million|
|DH J.D. Martinez||Red Sox||Twins||1 year, $15 million|
|RHP Chad Green||Yankees||Braves||2 years, $14 million|
|C Omar Narvaez||Brewers||Nationals||2 years, $14 million|
|LHP Andrew Heaney||Dodgers||Tigers||1 year, $12 million|
|CF Michael Conforto||Did not play||Blue Jays||1 year, $12 million|
|LF Joc Pederson||Giants||Yankees||1 year, $12 million|
|RHP Corey Kluber||Rays||Phillies||1 year, $11 million|
|RHP Mike Clevinger||Padres||Rays||1 year, $10 million|
|1B Trey Mancini||Orioles/Astros||Pirates||1 year, $10 million|
|OF Michael Brantley||Astros||Astros||1 year, $10 million|
|3B Justin Turner||Dodgers||Mets||1 year, $9 million|
|RHP Zack Greinke||Royals||Royals||1 year, $9 million|
|RHP Craig Kimbrel||Dodgers||Twins||1 year, $9 million|