The World Series is over and the Red Sox are again world champions, but soon the celebration will come to an end and they, along with the 29 other MLB teams, will look to field a championship-winning roster beginning with free agency. Here is where we think the top 30 free agents will wind up:
1. Manny Machado (SS/3B/Los Angeles Dodgers) – Philadelphia Phillies
Ideally, Machado is best fit at third base as he struggled tremendously with his glove last season. However, his bat can’t be ignored. A series of blunders in the postseason tarnished his name, but his offensive numbers combined with his youth (he’s only 26) will allow him to land a megadeal.
2. Bryce Harper (OF/Washington Nationals) – Chicago Cubs
Harper struggled tremendously in the first half of the season, hitting just .214 in 93 games before the All-Star break, but he turned it on after the summer classic, owning a slash line of .300/.434/.538 and ended the year with 34 home runs. He’s another young player and he has won an MVP award. There won’t be a shortage of teams interested in his services, but in the end I see him landing a megadeal with a championship contender.
3. Clayton Kershaw (LHP/Los Angeles Dodgers) – Los Angeles Dodgers
Kershaw will likely opt out of his deal today, but I can’t see him doing anything else but re-signing with the only franchise he has ever played for with a huge salary.
4. Patrick Corbin (LHP/Arizona Diamondbacks) – New York Yankees
Corbin spent much of his career looking like a back-of-the-rotation starter before emerging in 2018 with a 3.15 ERA across 200 innings. He’s young (entering his age 29 season) and struck out batters at an impressive rate of 11.1 per nine innings. The Yankees have already been rumored to be interested in him and could be potentially looking to replace both J.A. Happ and C.C. Sabathia.
5. Craig Kimbrel (RHP/Boston Red Sox) – Boston Red Sox
Kimbrel had issues walking batters in 2018, but he was still his dominant self, racking up 42 saves and striking out 13.9 batters per nine innings. Boston should re-sign him to a record deal.
6. Josh Donaldson (3B/Cleveland Indians) – Atlanta Braves
Donaldson was a late-season acquisition for the Indians who has dealt with a series of injuries in recent years. Now healthy again, the former MVP is a bit older than Machado (he turns 33 in December), but he should still be able to have a series of offers available.
7. Dallas Keuchel (LHP/Houston Astros) – Los Angeles Dodgers
Keuchel isn’t the ace pitcher people thought he was during his Cy Young-winning 2015 season, but nevertheless is still a solid pitcher who pitched 204.2 innings in 2018. The Dodgers may be looking for a replacement for Hyun Jin-Ryu.
8. Michael Brantley (OF/Cleveland Indians) – San Francisco Giants
Brantley was able to play more than 100 games for the first time since 2015 and played well, owning a slash line of .309/.364/.468 and a WAR of 3.6. He’d slide right into left field following the departure of Hunter Pence in San Francisco.
9. Nelson Cruz (DH/Seattle Mariners) – Seattle Mariners
Cruz’s options are limited by the fact that he simply can’t field anymore as he enters his age 39 season. He has played nine games over the past two seasons in the outfield, but his bat is still incredible, so he will have multiple AL-teams interested in him. Ultimately, I think he stays with the Mariners, where he hit 37 home runs last season.
10. Charlie Morton (RHP/Houston Astros) – Atlanta Braves
After spending most of his career as a middling pitcher, Morton seemed to put it all together for the Astros, owning a 3.36 ERA in his two years with the team. Morton began his career with the Braves and would give a veteran presence to a young rotation.
11. Nathan Eovaldi (RHP/Boston Red Sox) – San Diego Padres
The hard throwing Eovaldi struggled with injuries over the past two seasons between Tommy John and a surgery to remove loose bodies at the beginning of the 2018 season, but he re-established his value once being traded to the Red Sox, where he operated as a swingman, including a memorable performance in relief during Game 3 of the World Series. He has experience with three teams in the AL East, but I can see San Diego offering him the most money.
12. Adam Ottavino (RHP/Colorado Rockies) – Cleveland Indians
Injuries nearly ended Ottavino’s career, but he bounced back in 2018, posting a 2.43 ERA and 13.0 strikeouts per nine innings. Cleveland could be losing Andrew Miller this offseason.
13. A.J. Pollock (OF/Arizona Diamondbacks) – Philadelphia Phillies
Phillies lose out on the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, but still land a player who can improve their outfield not just offensively, but defensively as well.
14. Wilson Ramos (C/Philadelphia Phillies) – Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays traded Ramos to Philadelphia, but he could be an affordable enough option for Tampa to sign. Ramos hits well enough that he may be best suited to play for an AL team so that he can still hit on days he doesn’t catch.
15. Yasmani Grandal (C/Los Angeles Dodgers) – New York Mets
Travis d’Arnaud tears the cover off of the baseball in Triple A, but can’t replicate his minor league success in the majors. Midseason acquisition Devon Mesoraco is also hitting free agency.
16. Andrew Miller (LHP/Cleveland Indians) – New York Yankees
Miller was originally signed by the Yankees before being traded to Cleveland. New York has a need for a lefty out of the pen with Zach Britton hitting free agency and Miller has familiarity with the clubhouse and can fill in as closer if Aroldis Chapman struggles again.
17. Marwin Gonzalez (Utility/Houston Astros) – Los Angeles Angels
A super utility player, Gonzalez can play all four infield spots as well as the corner outfield positions. Gonzalez could ultimately replace Luis Valbuena for the Angels while getting steady work at third base.
18. Zach Britton (LHP/New York Yankees) – Boston Red Sox
Britton was acquired midseason by the Yankees and was a strong closer in the AL East, but an Achilles injury hampered his 2018 campaign. The Red Sox made a push for Britton and may try to poach him from their biggest rival.
19. D.J. LeMahieu (2B/Colorado Rockies) – Oakland Athletics
The biggest red flag for LeMahieu is his home/road splits. In the thin air at Coors Field, LeMahieu is batting .330/.387/.448, but those numbers drop to .264/.311/.362 on the road. He is, however, a stud on defense, something Oakland should covet.
20. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LHP/Los Angeles Dodgers) – Washington Nationals
On the field, Ryu is an effective starter, owning a 1.97 ERA in 2018, but the problem is that he is often injured. A bigger market can afford to take the risk on him and Ryu would slide in well for the Nationals behind max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
21. Jeurys Familia (RHP/Oakland Athletics) – Oakland Athletics
Acquired midseason from the Mets, Familia was effective, but not stellar with Oakland, owning a 3.45 ERA and striking out 11.5 batters per nine innings.
22. Mike Moustakas (3B/Milwaukee Brewers) – Texas Rangers
Moustakas was actually a free agent last year after rejecting his qualifying offer, but after the hot stove went cold (or really, just never got hot), he was forced to take a deal with the Royals for less than his qualifying offer. Now he is back on the market and there should be a bigger need for third basemen. The Rangers may be looking for a younger option now that Adrian Beltre is 40.
23. Andrew McCutchen (OF/New York Yankees) – Washington Nationals
His days of playing center field are behind him, but McCutchen can still play the corner outfield positions and provide some solid on-base percentage, evidenced by the .421 clip he posted with the Yankees. The Nationals need a replacement for Harper.
24. Daniel Murphy (2B/Chicago Cubs) – Cleveland Indians
Murphy has always been a defensive liability, but man can he hit. I think he’s best fit for AL teams who can ultimately use him as a designated hitter.
25. J.A. Happ (LHP/New York Yankees) – Oakland Athletics
Happ is now 36 and won’t be able to command a large deal, but he has been consistently solid over the past few seasons in a tough AL East.
26. Jed Lowrie (2B/Oakland Athletics) – Houston Astros
Lowrie is now 35, but he has been healthy in back-to-back seasons and posted a respectable .267/.353/.448 slash line with 23 home runs over an All-Star campaign last season. Plus, he offers position versatility, something Houston needs if Marwin Gonzalez leaves.
27. Adrian Beltre (3B/Texas Rangers) – Texas Rangers
Forever one of my favorite baseball players because of incidents like the above, Beltre is turning 40 and he won’t hit 30 home runs anymore, but he’s still a plus-player overall and a great clubhouse presence. He’s reportedly torn on returning in 2019, but I think if he does return, it will only be for Texas.
28. Brian Dozier (2B/Los Angeles Dodgers) – Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers lose Machado, but still keep Dozier at second base platooning with Chris Taylor. This depth piece is especially important if Corey Seager struggles to return from injury.
29. David Robertson (RHP/New York Yankees) – Philadelphia Phillies
Robertson is a curious name to watch as he represents himself. New York obviously loves Robertson as he was re-acquired by the team this summer, and could definitely be in play, but the Phillies need to retool a bullpen that struggled in 2018 and Robertson could ultimately be a candidate for them in the ninth inning.
30. Adam Jones (OF/Baltimore Orioles) – Pittsburgh Pirates
The Phillies are a name to watch, they had a trade in place for Jones before the vetoed it, but if Pollock goes to the City of Brotherly Love, they won’t move forward with an aging Jones who struggled on both sides of the plate last season. Instead, he could field offers in a low-pressure situation similar to former teammate Nick Markakis.