20 Best MLB Free Agents

The 20 Best Free Agents in MLB

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The 2017-18 offseason has its fair share of talent but not as much when you compare it to the 2018-19 offseason. Still, there will be plenty of teams handing out contracts to players they believe are the missing piece or a potential cornerstone to build around. Any team looking to go shopping this offseason will find a player at almost every position they could deem worthy of a contract, whether it be a long-term deal or a short-term one. These are the top 20 free agents in MLB this offseason.

20. Bryan Shaw, RP
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Shaw has led MLB in appearances three of the last four years. He is a solid mid-bullpen arm who could cash in on his recent success on a three or even four-year deal. Shaw is the epitome of health over the last few years, having appeared in almost 450 games over the last four years and never having gone on the DL during that time. He has always been a reliable arm in the bullpen, someone Terry Francona can count on almost every night. With the way bullpens are sued these days, Shaw might find himself in high demand.

19. C.C. Sabathia, SP
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Sabathia is 37, has old knees and is far from the pitcher he was in his prime. Yet he is still very good and showed a lot this past year with the New York Yankees. He still wants to play and has said he wants to return to New York where the Yankees have expressed a mutual interest. He owns a house in New Jersey and seems to be fairly settled into the area, so a move might be out of the question. He will dictate his own terms moving forward and should find a return to the Bronx in the cards.

18. Mike Minor, P
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Will teams look at Minor as a starter, or will they see his dominant season with Kansas City and see a left-handed reliever who can shut down lineups late in games? The bullpen is more important now than ever in today’s game, so Minor could be viewed as a poor man’s Andrew Miller. Minor appeared in 55 games this past season and sported a 10.2 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 ratio to go along with a 2.55 ERA. It wasn’t long ago that Minor was a decent starter with the Atlanta Braves, and a team desperate for starting pitching could make him an offer to start. Given the need for shut-down arms in the late innings, however, it might serve Minor to stay in the bullpen.

17. Jonathan Lucroy, C
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As recently as last year, Lucroy was one of the best catchers in the game. Then the Milwaukee Brewers tried trading him to the Cleveland Indians. That deal was nixed and Lucroy was instead dealt to the Texas Rangers where he continued his decent year. The first 77 games of 2017 saw Lucroy look like a much different player. He hit only .242/.297/.338 and only hit four home runs, a far cry from the 24 home runs he hit in 2016. His defense also suffered. He was dealt to the Colorado Rockies and seemed to relax as he hit .310/.429/.437 in 46 games there. He won’t get the kind of money he would have gotten a couple years ago, but he will still find a home. His best fit might be to remain in Colorado.

16. Todd Frazier, 3B
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Frazier might have boosted his value a bit with his 66-game stint in the Bronx. He had some playoff moments and did hit 27 home runs this year after hitting 40 in 2016. Plus he remains solid with the glove, posting a 3.4 WAR in 2017. The Yankees have mentioned wanting to bring Frazier back if they can afford it. The market for Frazier could vary wildly for him; while he’s one of the only good 3rd-baseman on the open market, there aren’t a lot of teams needing one.

15. Logan Morrison, 1B
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Morrison finally had the breakout season many had foreseen when he was one of baseball’s top prospects. He will turn 31 in August and is coming off the best season of his career where he hit 38 home runs while slashing .246/.353/.516, scoring 75 runs and driving in 85 runs. He is definitely in the second-tier of free agent hitters and would be a consolation prize for the teams that miss out on Eric Hosmer, Jay Bruce, J.D. Martinez and Carlos Santana. He will come with plenty of question marks, but if his last season is his new norm, a team might get a power bat for a decent price.

14. Addison Reed, RP
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Reed will be looking to cash in on the heels of other relievers over the past few seasons such as Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon among others. He does have closing experience and could fill that role with a team needing help there. He could also be a valuable set-up man as he has excelled in that role during the last few seasons when he hasn’t been filling in at closer. There are a few teams that could use an arm like his in the late innings, and he could see a four-year deal.

13. Carlos Santana, 1B/DH
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Santana, who will turn 32 next April, is one of the best offensive free agents this winter. He is decent with the glove, and he has power and a good eye at the plate. Any team coming up short on Hosmer should look favorably upon Santana who would be a welcome addition to almost any team. He also shouldn’t cost a ton in terms of years or dollars. After all, look what happened to Edwin Encarnacion last offseason. He is a switch-hitter who walks and has power. He will make some team very happy.

12. Alex Cobb, SP
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Cobb is another pitcher a year further removed from Tommy John surgery. His numbers looked off last season compared to pre-surgery levels, but that could just be the rust being worn off. Teams will see him as still having some prime years in the tank, and he did have some success in the AL East. In fact, he was close to being an ace in 2012-2014. The knock against Cobb, however, is the fact he has pitched six years in the Majors and has never made 30 starts or exceeded 180 innings in a season. Will a team take a long-term chance on Cobb? He might be the pitcher with the highest risk and highest reward on the market this offseason.

11. Zack Cozart, SS
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Cozart had been a decent shortstop for a few years before enjoying a breakout season in 2017 where he ranked among the best in the game. Would a team be willing to pay him as a top shortstop in the game? Given his age and overall career performance, he shouldn’t warrant it, but that won’t stop a team that sees him as the answer up the middle. Last season, Cozart slashed .297/.385/.548 to raise his career line to .254/.305/.411. Last season was an extreme outlier to his career, though, and it came just as he was entering free agency. There aren’t many teams needing a shortstop, which could limit his value, but a team like the Cardinals could take the plunge and upgrade with Cozart.

10. Lance Lynn, SP
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For those not wanting to spend on the top three starting pitchers, there is Lynn. He quelled any concerns about his Tommy John surgery by making 33 starts this past season after missing all of 2016. His numbers were a bit off from his career norms, which could be the result of coming back from surgery. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him take a one-year deal just to build up his value before hitting the free agent market in 2018. Then again, pitching is premium again in baseball, and he could see his steep asking price met. It is reported he is looking for $20 million per year.

9. Lorenzo Cain, OF
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Cain does a little bit of everything and was a main cog in the Kansas City Royals’ World Series win in 2015. Cain, who will be 32 next season, is going to want to be paid and will likely price himself out of the Royals’ reach. The real question for teams is whether he will give them value over the life of his contract. The track record of players like Cain, who depend a lot on their legs, is one of risk. Cain can be a great addition to many teams this offseason, but it’ll take the right team to want to land him for the likely four to five year contract he’ll want.

8. Greg Holland, RP
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Holland showed he was healthy this year after missing all of 2016 with Tommy John surgery. He turned down a $15 million option with the Colorado Rockies to test the free agent waters. He might not beat that in average annual value, but he will get paid this offseason. His ERA doesn’t look pretty at 3.61, but that is really the result of a stretch in August. He struck out 70 in 57.1 innings and posted a healthy 1.151 WHIP. Holland should get paid to close somewhere, but he will have trouble beating out the average annual value of his option year with Colorado.

7. Wade Davis, RP
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Davis showed last season he is still an elite closer, and he’ll look to get paid like Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen did last offseason. The only concern with Davis is his control, but teams will look past that as he is playoff tested and has a World Series under his belt with the Kansas City Royals. Davis might not set any records this offseason with his contract but he will get paid as teams look to build elite bullpens.

6. Jay Bruce, OF
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Bruce might be a platoon bat at this point as he can’t hit left-handed pitching. The 31-year-old slashed just .222/.285/.433 with nine home runs in 186 plate appearances against left-handers last year. He is also limited on defense, which could hurt him when it comes to finding a team. His power is still there, but as we saw with Edwin Encarancion last offseason, teams won’t overpay for that these days. Bruce would be better off staying in the American League where he can DH and play the outfield on occasion.

5. Eric Hosmer, 1B
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Hosmer had himself a solid walk year that saw him hit 25 home runs, 31 doubles, score 98 runs, drive in 94 runs and slash .318/.385/.498. He plays excellent defense and has three Gold Gloves to back him up. He won’t turn 28 until next October, so he still has plenty of prime years left. He will likely get a big contract from a team that needs help at first base.

4. Mike Moustakas, 3B
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Moustakas has always been a good player, but he had himself a career year this past season. He slugged a career-high 38 home runs, drove in a career-high 85 runs, scored a career-high 75 runs and hit .272/.314/.521 when his career slash line is just .251/.305/.425. He is pretty good defensively, and third basemen are hard to come by.

3. Jake Arrieta, SP
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Arrieta might be the best pitcher on the market but takes a hit because age is working against him at this point. Teams won’t be getting the Arrieta that won the Cy Young Award in 2015. They might luck out and get the 2016 version. Even 2017 Arrieta would be nice. He went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA, 4.16 FIP, struck out 163 and walked 55 in 168.1 innings. The loss in velocity will be a concern for some, but it might be an aberration. He will get paid, but the length of the contract might not be what he wants. He will be one of the more interesting free agents in recent memory.

2. J.D. Martinez, OF
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Martinez was having a good year with the Detroit Tigers, hitting 16 home runs, scoring 38 runs, driving in 39 while hitting .305/.388/.630 in 200 at-bats. When he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, something clicked and he went on a tear hitting 29 home runs, scoring 47 runs, driving in 65 runs and slashing .302/.366/.741. He will be 30 next season, so age isn’t much of an issue and he is coming off a 45-home run season. He will get paid big money, and most likely on a five-year deal.

1. Yu Darvish, SP
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Darvish only recorded ten outs in the World Series across two starts. He never made it out of the second inning in either start. During the regular season, he posted a 3.86 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 1.163 WHIP and struck out 209 in 186.2 innings. Will teams let the performance in the World Series decide whether or not they invest in arguably the best starting pitcher on the market this offseason? Likely not, but it will be interesting. With offense galore in baseball right now, teams are once again putting a huge premium on pitching.