Baseball is about to enter the postseason, so for many, the season is over. Soon, the MLB landscape will drastically change as teams acquire new players through trades and free agency in the offseason. Here’s the top 20 free agents as well as our prediction for their new homes.
1. David Price (LHP/Toronto Blue Jays) – Chicago Cubs
Price has loved playing in Toronto and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him choose to play north of the border, but the Cubs are an intriguing option. They play in a big market, have a good, young team and the financial resources to give him a $200 million deal that he will likely command. Additionally, Joe Maddon happens to manage the team, Price’s former skipper in Tampa Bay. Acquiring Price would be significant for the Cubs, he would top a rotation that already features Jake Arietta, who has been a pleasant surprise, and Jon Lester. Chicago tried trading for Cole Hamels at the deadline, so it is easy to imagine the team will be looking to add pitching in the offseason.
2. Zack Grienke (RHP/Los Angeles Dodgers) – Los Angeles Dodgers
Greinke could not have picked a better time to have a career year. He turns 32 next month and is the favorite to win the Cy Young thanks to a microscopic 1.68 ERA. Plus, he has excelled with a big market club, so the anxiety issues he has previously should not affect him in free agency. Plenty of teams will be interested if he opts out of his deal, but expect him to stay with the Dodgers on a six-year pact.
3. Justin Upton (OF/San Diego Padres) – Seattle Mariners
Upton is only 28, so he could get a lengthy deal. Unfortunately, there will be a handful of team who will not be interested in him due to the fact that teams will have to forfeit their first round draft pick to sign him. Seattle, however, selects in the top 10 and will not be forced to forfeit their top pick.
4. Jason Heyward (OF/St. Louis Cardinals) – St. Louis Cardinals
Heyward’s youth (he is only 26) will attract a lot of attention. He only has one 20 homer season under his belt, but he can consistently hit 15 and provides plus defense in the outfield. An analytics team, like St. Louis, will be interested i him.
5. Johnny Cueto (RHP/Kansas City Royals) – Boston Red Sox
Boston will be looking to a top-of-the-lineup pitcher this offseason. Cueto certainly has ace stuff, but he has struggled through injury in his career. He has struggled since joining the Royals, but if he performs well in the postseason, he could earn a big payday.
6. Yoenis Cespedes (OF/New York Mets) – New York Mets
Cespedes has been a catalyst for the Mets offense and has been considered for NL MVP despite playing most of the season in the AL. He is due for a big pay day and will command a large contract. The Mets will be in play, and after penny-pinching in recent years they finally have a contending team and may finally be ready to hand out a big contract.
7. Jordan Zimmermann (RHP/Washington Nationals) – Toronto Blue Jays
If the Blue Jays lose David Price, they will be scrambling for another front line starter. With the Nationals imploding, Zimmermann may want to skip town and will have a number of interested suitors.
8. Alex Gordon (OF/Kansas City Royals) –
It would be devastating for the Royals to lose Johnny Cueto and Gordon. I can see them retaining one of the two, however, and Gordon’s asking price should be lower.
9. Ian Desmond (SS/Washington Nationals) – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Erick Aybar is a free agent as well, so the Angels could potentially upgrade at shortstop. Desmond may have gotten a better contract two years ago. Right now, he is likely to get a one or two-year contract.
10. Mike Leake (RHP/San Francisco Giants) – San Diego Padres
Leake isn’t a staff ace, but he is still a quality No. 2 or No. 3 guy. Plus, he is young, thanks to the fact the he skipped the minors entirely after he was drafted. Leake turns 28 in November and is looking to make a fast decision in free agency. San Diego would make sense, the team needs pitching and Leake is from there.
11. Chris Davis (1B/Baltimore Orioles) – Seattle Mariners
Logan Morrison has struggled at first base for the Mariners this year. Davis, after a disastrous 2014, completely restored his value, by crushing 45 home runs and hitting a respectable .258. He may be able to land a long-term contract in the offseason.
12. Jeff Samardzija (RHP/Chicago White Sox) – Detroit Tigers
Detroit needs pitching after losing Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and David Price in recent years. Samardzija is having a down year, so he could be had for a discount.
13. Denard Span (OF/Washington Nationals) – Tampa Bay Rays
Span will be 32 next season and after an injury-riddled 2015, he will likely get a short-term deal. Tampa would be a logical fit, he could shift to a corner and earn a team friendly one-year deal.
14. Matt Wieters (C/Baltimore Orioles) – Arizona Diamondbacks
Baltimore is going to go through a tumultuous offseason with eight players headed for free agency. Wieters is interested in returning to Baltimore, but he may get a better offer elsewhere. Arizona will have some money to spend and improved over the past year, so they could be looking to become contenders again.
15. Howie Kendrick (2B/Los Angeles Dodgers) – Los Angeles Dodgers
Kendrick turns 32 next year, but has still been productive. The Dodgers don’t have much depth behind him and this isn’t a great class for second basemen so the Dodgers will look to retain Kendrick.
16. Adam Lind (1B/Milwaukee Brewers) – Baltimore Orioles
If Baltimore loses Chris Davis, they will scramble to find a replacement. Lind doesn’t have 40 home run power like Davis does, but does have one 35 home run season and can be counted on for 20. Additionally, he does hit for as higher average as well.
17. Colby Rasmus (OF/Houston Astros) – Washington Nationals
Washington may lose Denard Span, so they will need to find a replacement. Rasmus will only be 29 next year, but he hits for a low average which could play a role into his new deal.
18. Mat Latos (RHP/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) – Philadelphia Phillies
Latos’ value has tanked after a poor 2015 that saw him lose his spot in a starting rotation and play on three teams. The Phillies could use him since he could be had for cheap and on a short deal, allowing them to use him as a stop-gap until they are ready to contend again.
19. Ben Zobrist (2B/Kansas City Royals) – Kansas City Royals
Zobrist is one of the most versatile baseball players, with the ability to play second base, shortstop or right field. The Royals gave up one of their key prospects for him in Sean Manaea, so I can’t imagine them letting him walk so easily since he can be had at a fair price.
20. Yovani Gallardo (RHP/Texas Rangers) – Texas Rangers
Gallardo had a solid season in his first year in the AL and could draw a lot of interest. Texas is interested in bringing him back, and he would become the team’s No. 3 pitcher with Yu Darvish returning. They may have to win a bidding war, however.