With a possible lockout On the horizon so far, in the free agency market, this has been mostly business as usual.
Detroit have signed lefty Eduardo Rodriguez. Houston has retained star right-hander Justin Verlander. Noah Sindergaard moved from Metz to Angels in a costly one-year deal.
The deadline for the adoption of the relevant proposals came and went last week, further clarifying who is heading to the open market.
It remains to be seen if the uncertainty over the next employment agreement will affect the offseason for the best players available, but it is clear that there are many good options for teams looking to take it to the next level.
Here is a list of the best baseball free agents by job title. The current age of the players is shown in brackets:
Carlos Rodon, White Sox (28)
This is a toss-up between Rawdon and Robbie Ray. Rawdon didn’t actually threaten Ray in the Cy Young vote, but his ERA was about half that and he’s younger as well. And Ray got a qualifying offer and Rawdon didn’t, so that might make Rawdon a more attractive target.
Other options: Ray has made an impressive recovery from a failed 2020, but he’s not a one-year miracle. He was very good in 2017 as well. Clayton Kershaw has never performed in front of anyone other than the Dodgers, but he is available now and at age 33 can still be effective if healthy.
Aaron Lou, Mets (33)
Lou went 6-0 with a 0.95 ERA in 65 games. Opponents hit 0.192 from him.
Other options: Andrew Chafin was impressive last season for both the Cubs and Athletics. Tony Watson gave up walking after the Angels traded him for the Giants.
Max Scherzer, Dodgers (37)
So far, there are no signs of serious decline for Scherzer, despite his age. He has had an ERA of 3.15 or below in eight of the past nine seasons – the only time he has been higher was in a short-cut 2020 campaign.
Other options: Kevin Gausman was good in 2020 and looked like Cy Young’s rival this year until he lost in the second half. Markus Stroman gave the Mets a 3.02 ERA for 33 launches in 2021.
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Raisel Iglesias, Angels (31)
Iglesias saved 34 games for Los Angeles, and things haven’t gone smoothly for the Cincinnati bullpen since he left. He has had at least 30 saves in each of the last three unshorted seasons.
Other options: Kenley Jansen seemed to have slipped three years in a row with an ERA of over 3.00. He then brought it down to 2.22 this year and held opponents to 0.153 on average. Tampa Bay signed Collin McHugh to a contract ahead of last season, and that in itself is a good confirmation of the supply’s potential. He went 6-1 with a 1.55 ERA.
Jan Gomes, athletics (34)
There are no star catchers this year, but Gomez could provide some pop.
Other options: Roberto Perez scored 24 homers in 2019, then scored under .200 in 2020 and 2021. Robinson Quirinos won double-digit homers three straight seasons in 2017-19, but has only played 71 games since.
Freddie Freeman, Braves (32)
Losing Freeman will be a big disappointment for the World Series champions, but winning the 2020 All-Star and MVP five times will obviously come at a cost. Even at first base, it is difficult to find such a stable product.
Other options: Anthony Rizzo’s OPS has been below 0.800 in the past two seasons, but he’s the only other big name available early on. Brad Miller is finishing a 20-day season in Philadelphia but is unlikely to deliver a high average.
Marcus Semien, Blue Jays (31)
Let’s list Semyon as our second baseman – where he has played mostly this season – and avoid a tough decision in the short run. Semyon has 45 home runs this year, playing in all 162 games, and finished third in the MVP vote. According to Baseball-Reference.com, he has had the most WARs among baseball players since the start of the 2019 season.
Other options: Cesar Hernandez has 18 home runs for Cleveland this season before being traded to the White Sox. Donovan Solano’s attack numbers have dropped slightly this year, but he has made a significant contribution to the Giants’ team with 107 wins.
Eduardo Escobar, brewers (32 years old)
Escobar has 28 home runs this year in his first full season since he scored 35 in 2019. He played a little in first, second and shortstop in addition to third.
Other options: Kyle Seeger received plaudits from Seattle fans at the last game of this season – they obviously knew very well that he could transfer to another team. Jonathan Villar’s stolen base numbers are not what they used to be, but he can still provide double-digit Homer numbers.
Carlos Correa, Astros (27)
Correa made his major league debut at the age of 20 and reaches a free agency before his 30th birthday. This makes him much younger than some of the other top players on this list, and may be the most sought after name this offseason.
Other options: There are many good short stops available this year. Corey Shigeru is also 27, and Trevor Storey just turned 29. On December 1, Javier Baez turns 29.
Starling Martha Athletics (33)
Chris Bryant, Giants (29)
Nick Castellanos, Reds (29)
Marthe has done everything he can to help the top players descend and this year has earned 0.841 OPS for Oakland and Miami. Bryant won’t turn 30 until January and can obviously play third base in addition to outfield. Castellanos has set career highs this year at homers (34), middle (0.309) and OPS (0.939).
Other options: Avisael Garcia has a record 29 homers for Milwaukee and is only 30 years old. Chris Taylor remained productive for the Dodgers in six positions. Japanese slugger Seiya Suzuki has hit 38 homers this season in the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.
Nelson Cruise, Race (41)
Cruz is finally slowing down, but not by much. He scored 32 homers this year, but showed 0.832 OPS, the lowest since 2012.
Other options: Kyle Schwarber finally made the American League squad when he was transferred from Washington to Boston. He can play in the field, but he is known for his bat and his role will likely depend on where he goes and what the rules are. Mitch Moreland has been at DH much longer than first base this year, and his offensive record has dropped significantly.
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