MLB free agency gets underway in earnest on Tuesday with a plethora of top-end MLB talent potentially switching teams. Our amNew York staff weighs in on where they think the top 15 free agents will sign.
Aaron Judge, OF 31 years old
Judge turned down the Yankees’ seven-year, $213.5 million extension offer at the start of the season and made bet on himself that was a little risky given his age and injury history. Well, he went on to his .311/.425/.686 with 62 home runs, 131 RBI, 133 runs, and 16 stolen bases and is going to get a massive payday somewhere. Will it be in New York or can he be lured back to his native California after being booed in the Bronx during the playoffs?
Staff Prediction: Yankees (Joe, Nick, Aidan), Dodgers (Eric, Christian)
Jacob deGrom, SP 35 years old
Older than Judge and with a longer and more significant injury track record, deGrom might be the riskiest of the top-tier free agents. In 64.1 innings this year, he pitched to an uncharacteristically high (for him) 3.08 ERA with 102 strikeouts and a 0.75 WHIP. Will some team pony up in the belief that they can get peak deGrom for a few more years?
Staff Prediction: Rangers (Joe, Eric, Christian), Mets (Nick), Cardinals (Aidan)
Trea Turner, 2B/SS 30 years old
Turner remains one of the game’s fastest players and a strong defender at multiple positions. His value could be even higher in the pitch-clock environment, with pickoff limits coming to MLB. Turner hit .298/.343/.466 for the Dodgers with 21 home runs, 100 RBI, 101 runs, and 27 stolen bases. Will the Dodgers try to lock him in or go after Judge first? The Mets have already expressed interest, so perhaps they can steal him away?
Staff Prediction: Mets (Joe, Eric, Christian), Phillies (Nick), Cubs (Aidan)
Carlos Correa, SS 28 years old
Correa signed a three-year deal with the Twins last winter, but his contract included player options for both 2023 and ’24, so he has opted now out to seek a longer deal. He had a solid year for the Twins, hitting .291/.366/.467 with 22 home runs, 64 RBI, and 70 runs in 136 games, but his injury history and defensive metric regression in 2022 might hamper his market.
Staff Prediction: Cubs (Joe, Eric), Twins (Nick), Dodgers (Christian, Aidan)
Xander Bogaerts, SS 30 years old
Bogaerts put in a lot of work on his defense in the offseason and answered a lot of questions in 2022 with an 89th-percentile performance in Outs Above Average. As a result, it’s unlikely he’s asked to move away from shortstop for a few years, and given that he hit .307/.377/.456 with 15 home runs, 73 RBI, 84 runs, and eight stolen bases this season, he should command over $20M per season.
Staff Prediction: Red Sox (Eric, Nick, Christian, Aidan), Giants (Joe)
Justin Verlander, SP 39 years old
Verlander will be 40 years old next season and just pitched his first year since 2019 after major arm surgery. That immediately raises some warning signs. However, he also had a 1.75 ERA in 175 innings with 185 strikeouts and a 0.83 WHIP, so the talent is still there. How many years and how much per year is a team willing to risk on his health?
Staff Prediction: Astros (Nick, Aidan), Braves (Joe, Christian), Orioles (Eric)
Dansby Swanson, SS 29 years old
Swanson has proven to be an above-average defender at short, actually ranking in the 100th percentile in Outs Above Average this season. He also put together a solid year at the plate, hitting .277/.329/.447 with 25 home runs, 96 RBI, 99 runs, and 18 stolen bases. He can be a bit streaky at times, but some team is going to pony up a sizable contract to have him as their starting shortstop.
Staff Prediction: Braves (Eric, Nick) Mariners (Joe, Christian, Aidan)
Carlos Rodon, SP 30 years old
Another top-tier free agent with injury concerns, Rodon had a great season in San Francisco but was limited by left shoulder soreness and fatigue in the second half. Is some team willing to bank on him reaching his upside?
Staff Prediction: Giants (Joe, Eric, Christian Aidan), Mets (Nick)
Chris Bassitt, SP 34 years old
Bassitt was strong in his first year as a Met, pitching to a 3.42 ERA in 181.2 innings with 167 strikeouts and a 1.14 WHIP. While he struggled in the playoffs, he has been a steady rotation piece for years and would be a solid, if unsexy, signing.
Staff Prediction: Mets (whole staff)
Clayton Kershaw, SP 35 years old
Oh, hey, look, another free agent with a troubling injury history. Kershaw has some chronic back issues and has pitched limited innings in three straight seasons. We’re not even entirely sure he’ll pitch next season, but if he does, he’s proven to be an elite arm.
Staff Prediction: Dodgers (Eric, Joe, Christian Aidan), Rangers (Nick)
Kodai Senga, RHP 30 years old
Senga is the top international free agent on the market, which makes sense when you consider that he posed a career 2.59 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 11 seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball. He also allegedly possesses a fastball that has been clocked at 101.9 mph, so there should be more than a few teams interested in him.
Staff Prediction: Blue Jays (Joe, Eric, Christian), Rangers (Aidan), Mariners (Nick)
Brandon Nimmo, OF 30 years old
Nimmo played a career-high 151 games in 2022, so perhaps he’s put the injury bug behind him. He hit .274/.367/.433 with 16 home runs, 64 RBI, and 102 runs scored as the Mets’ leadoff hitter. The Mets obviously remain interested in bringing him back, but if they are in on Trea Turner then there may be some defensive positioning dominoes that could prevent Nimmo from coming back.
Staff Prediction: Mets (Joe, Nick, Christian, Aidan), Rockies (Eric)
Jose Abreu, 1B 36 years old
Abreu is as steady as they come. Since 2014, he has only one full season in which his OPS was below .800 and he played fewer than 145 games. There might not be a steadier bat you can insert in the middle of your lineup, but how many years is a team willing to give him?
Staff Prediction: Astros (Joe, Nick, Christian), Cubs (Eric), White Sox (Aidan)
Willson Contreras, C 31 years old
The trade market wasn’t as ripe for Contreras as we thought this summer, so it’s unclear if there will be a major market for a 31-year-old catcher this offseason. He’s still an elite offensive catcher, so there will likely be some team willing to give him a substantial contract.
Staff Prediction: Cardinals (Aidan, Eric, Christian), Red Sox (Nick), Angels (Joe)
Josh Bell, 1B 30 years old
Staff Prediction: Rays (Joe, Eric, Christian), Mets (Nick), Astros (Aidan)
Josh Bell started off 2022 on fire, slashing .311/.390/.504 in the first half, but really slumped and hit just .192/.316/.271 in 53 games with the Padres. Is any team willing to bank on his early season production being more of his true talent?