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MLB free agent prediction thread

That’s a lotta dough!

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Championship Series - Houston Astros v New York Yankees - Game Three Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

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

Age: 30

.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

Age: 28

.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

Age: 29

.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

Age: 30

.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

Age: 28

.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

Age: 34

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

Age: 29

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

Age: 29

.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

Age: 39

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

Age: 30

.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

Age: 29

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

Age: 33

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

Age: 35

.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

Age: 32

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

Age: 28

.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

Age: 30

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

Age: 30

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

Age: 32

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

Age: 30

.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

Age: 31

.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

Age: 33

.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

Age: 31

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

Age: 32

.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

Age: 30

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

Age: 30

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