Nov 12, 2021
TSN's top 50 MLB free agents
TSN Baseball Insider Steve Phillips and Blue Jays Reporter Scott Mitchell rank, analyze and examine potential landing spots for MLB’s top 50 free agents available this off-season.
With a deep group of shortstops and a handful of future Hall of Famers on the pitching side, this year’s free-agent crop is an intriguing one.
For the fourth year in a row, TSN MLB insider Steve Phillips and TSN Blue Jays reporter Scott Mitchell have combined efforts once again to put together the top 50 names available.
In addition to the consensus list, Phillips and Mitchell provide their own individual rankings, as well as contract predictions, potential landing spots and a Jays take on the top 30 players in the free-agent class.
1. SS Carlos Correa, Astros
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Carlos Correa is a very talented two-way player – a Gold Glove defender and a middle-of-the-lineup bat. He’s had back problems in the past, which is a cause for concern, but stayed healthy in 2021. He became a great leader in Houston, but it remains to be seen how a new clubhouse and fan base will accept him because of his role in the sign-stealing scandal. He hits in the clutch and has proven he can deliver in the biggest moments. He may be the best defensive shortstop in the game. The Astros, Yankees, Rangers, Marlins, Orioles and Tigers will pursue him. I think the Detroit Tigers will go all out and sign Correa for eight years and $224 million where he will join his former manager A.J. Hinch.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: Won’t waste a whole lot of words on this one since the Jays have publicly committed to Bo Bichette at shortstop after he made some obvious strides there in 2021. Correa is a terrific defender and might even reach another level with the bat at some point during his next contract, too. That’s why he’s slightly — and I mean ever so slightly — ahead of the next guy on this list.
2. SS Corey Seager, Dodgers
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Corey Seager is a dynamic offensive player who hits for average, gets on base and slugs. He doesn’t strikeout often and takes his walks. He can handle high-velocity fastballs at an elite level. He is an adequate defender at shortstop, but at some point, will move to third base. He will turn 28 next season. Injuries have been a nuisance in his career, including some lower back issues, which is concerning when talking about long-term contracts. The Astros, Dodgers, Yankees Cardinals, Nationals, Tigers, and Orioles will have interest. I predict he signs with the Yankees for seven years and $203 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: The dream scenario for Jays fans would be signing Seager and flipping him over to third base, where he’d immediately become one of the best all-around players in the game at that position. Correa vs. Seager is truly an interesting debate as they have different strengths and both have a checkered injury history, which is really the only con on both resumes.
3. 2B/SS Marcus Semien, Blue Jays
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Marcus Semien is an impact offensive middle infielder. He will be considered by teams that need a shortstop or second baseman. He is a winner and delivers in the biggest of moments. He is a consistent stabilizer who fits on a team at any stage of development. He is a classy, respected leader. He is the oldest in this class of stud shortstops/second basemen at 31. The Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Nationals, Dodgers, Cardinals, Tigers, White Sox, Giants, Mariners and Rangers will want him. I believe the geography will be the deciding factor and he will sign with Seattle for five years and $135 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: The only reason he’s not hands down the best free agent signing of last winter is because the Jays also inked Robbie Ray for a measly $8 million. While the Jays would be over the moon to somehow lure Semien back for a reasonable $20 million or so per season, he’s likely going to have far more lucrative offers on the table and many teams will want him as a shortstop, which is his preferred position. There’s really no reason for Semien to leave money or term on the table at this point in his career, so the Jays definitely aren’t the favourites as free agency gets underway. It’s hard to expect another 45 homers, but the leadership and intangibles Semien brought in 2021 was worth its weight in gold to a young, emerging Jays club.
4. SP Max Scherzer, Dodgers
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Max Scherzer proved once again in 2021 that he is one of the best pitchers of this generation, even at the age of 37. He was second in the NL in ERA and strikeouts and was first in WHIP. He is a strike-throwing power pitcher who competes like no other. He is from the west coast and seemed very comfortable after the trade from the Nationals to the Dodgers. He is still an ace. He ran out of gas at the end of the year and needs to clear a physical, but if all checks out, he may set a record this year for highest salary ever. Reports are that Scherzer wants to stay on the west coast. The Angels, Dodgers and Giants will all pursue him aggressively. He will sign back with the Dodgers for three years and $120 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: Max Max is still dealing heading into his age-37 campaign and there’s no reason to think he won’t threaten the $40-million mark in AAV. There’s a very good chance he stays in Los Angeles — with the Dodgers or even the pitching-starved Angels — so every other club interested in the future Hall of Famer’s services is fighting an uphill battle. The question isn’t really if the Jays will call, it’s more whether Scherzer has any interest whatsoever in Toronto. The medicals will have to be checked closely but based on the body of work in 2021 a two-year deal at any price is going to be considered a massive win for the team that gets Scherzer.
5. 3B Kris Bryant, Giants
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Kris Bryant is one of the most versatile players available. As a manager’s Swiss Army knife, he is an above-average defender in the outfield and at the corners in the infield while never letting it affect his offence. Bryant is a baseball player; he shows up every day with no expectations other than winning. He gets on base, has power and can run the bases. He can be a bit streaky but there are no major flaws in his game. He will play at 29 next season and has many good years in front of him, despite a propensity for nagging injuries. The Giants, Mariners, Nationals, Mets, Rangers, Marlins and Guardians will all call. He signs with the Nationals for six years and $144 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: By far the best third baseman on the market, the former NL MVP also offers some helpful positional value with his ability to play first base and every outfield spot. Bryant has been up and down a bit since that MVP season in 2016, but he rebounded this summer and will head into the market without a qualifying offer attached, which will help his market enormously. With a clear need at third base, Bryant is an excellent fit for the Jays on paper, but the amount of paper needed to get him to sign is another story. There are a number of variables at play in any effort the Jays make to sign one of the high- end free agents, and it all starts with Ray and Semien. If those two escape, there’s money to spend.
6. 1B Freddie Freeman, Braves
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Freddie Freeman is the best hitter available in the free-agent market. He hits righties and lefties for average and power. He is a Gold Glove calibre defender. Freeman is the entire package. He is a great leader and one of the classiest gentlemen in the game. When you think Atlanta Braves, he is the player that comes to mind. It will be a shock if he doesn’t sign back with the Braves. He would take any team over the top and could take them to a championship. It won’t likely matter which other teams have interest; Atlanta won’t let him get away. He will sign with the Braves for six years and $200 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: The Jays have a pretty decent player at first base these days, so no need to go in-depth here. It’ll be shocking if Freeman leaves at Atlanta.
7. SS Trevor Story, Rockies
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Trevor Story is a five-tool shortstop who can do it all. He is coming off a subpar season and still hit 24 homers and stole 20 bases. He is an above-average defender even while playing on the super-fast infield surface in Colorado. He is tough and plays to win. Some of his home runs will become doubles when he leaves Coors Field, but it won’t matter. He is one of the top shortstops in the game. He may be a value signing coming off the down season in a shortstop-rich market. The Astros, Yankees, Rangers Tigers, Orioles, and Cardinals will consider him. He signs with Houston for six years and $138 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: Unless Story’s market craters coming off a so-so platform season and he decides to emulate Semien’s prove-it deal and position switch, he’s not going to be an option. There’s also the Coors Field factor, but DJ LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado have helped debunk that narrative recently.
8. SP Robbie Ray, Blue Jays
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Robbie Ray had a phenomenal year that will likely lead to the AL Cy Young Award. He was unrecognizable from the Robbie Ray of the past. He became a strike-throwing machine in 2021. The stuff has always been there, but he didn’t throw it over the plate enough. The Jays guided Ray and reaped the benefit of his turnaround. But he was so good that everyone wants him, and he is going to cost a ton of money now. He will garner interest from the Blue Jays, Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Giants, and Angels. I think he will sign with the Angels for five years and $125 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: The Jays helped resurrect Ray’s career during his season and a half working with pitching coach Pete Walker and now they’re going to have to pay market value and then some to get the lefty to return. This is what a pitching reclamation project is supposed to look like, and Ray finally put everything together in 2021, filling up the strike zone, cutting the walks significantly, and continuing to use a filthy fastball/slider combo that’s hard to hit. If the Jays are hoping to win 90-plus games again next season, they’ll need an ace atop the rotation. If it’s not Ray, there’s only a couple of other names on this list that would fit the bill. I expect them to be all-in on Ray, at the same time knowing 2021 will be tough to duplicate. There definitely could be a point where things get too rich for the Jays’ blood, and they have to walk away.
9. SP Kevin Gausman, Giants
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Kevin Gausman accepted the qualifying offer last off-season from the San Francisco Giants after contemplating a three-year deal with the Jays. He bet on himself, and he won. He made 33 starts and had a 2.81 ERA striking out 227 in 192 innings pitched. His electric fastball up in the zone and split and changeup down in the zone are what gets the best hitters out in today’s game. Like Ray, he is going to get a big multi-year payday. The Blue Jays, Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Giants, and Angels will aggressively pursue Gausman. I believe he stays in San Francisco for five years and $125 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: Evidenced by their overtures in past off-seasons, the Jays front office is very into Gausman. Had they been able to lure him to Toronto previously, they also would’ve looked very smart, as the former fourth overall pick put things together in 2021 and finally fulfilled all the promise the right-hander showed in spurts with the Baltimore Orioles. Based on age, health and stuff, Ray and Gausman seem to be the safest bets to secure that rare five-year pitcher contract.
10. OF Nick Castellanos, Reds
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Nick Castellanos is a pure hitter who hits for average and power. He is a bit of a free swinger and doesn’t walk much but is very productive. He is a below-average outfielder defensively. He has always been a doubles machine, and this year some of those doubles went over the wall. He will play at 30 years of age in 2022. He is looking for a big payday as he opted out of a guaranteed two years and $34 million. The Mets, Nationals, Rockies, Guardians, Rangers, Giants and Royals all have a spot for him. He will sign with the Mets for five years/$115 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: After opting out of the final two years of his deal with the Cincinnati Reds, Castellanos is going to strike it rich. While it’s not official yet, the universal DH is really going to help this type of player because Castellanos is not a good outfielder and will likely spend the latter portion of his next contract as a bat-only player. There’s no reason for the Jays to be in on him.
11. SS Javier Baez, Mets
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Javier Baez is one of the most exciting players in the game. He is a showman who impacts the game on offence and defence. He is a slick fielder who makes highlight-reel plays but has been prone to some reckless errors. But he makes plays other can’t even consider. He has a swing-hard-in-case-you-hit-it mentality at the plate. He has big power (31 HR) but big holes (184 strikeouts) in his swing. He can play shortstop and second base, although he prefers short. He will be plan B or C or D for quite a few teams. Look for his name to be attached to the Mets, Yankees, Rangers, Marlins, Tigers, Mariners, Blue Jays, White Sox and Astros. I believe he will sign with the Rangers for six years/$132 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: Baez had no issue shifting over to second base to play with Francisco Lindor and that alone will likely have a few teams calling about continuing to play the keystone. There’s always a chance one of these shortstops is left out of the game of musical chairs and decides to take a one-year deal to test free agency again a year from now. Don’t count on it, but you never know in an uncertain winter thanks to the CBA. Even though the strikeouts are plentiful, Baez would be a beautiful fit next to Bichette for a season.
12. OF Starling Marte, A’s
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Starling Marte is the best centre fielder available in free agency. He is an all-around stud. He is a line-drive hitter who has pop in his bat, having hit over 20 homers twice in his career. Although he is 33 years old, he can still really run. He stole 47 bases last season while only getting caught five times. He is a dynamic offensive player who got on base 38 per cent of the time. He is an excellent defender who covers a lot of ground. He is a great person and teammate. He will get interest from most playoff contenders including the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Phillies, Marlins and Tigers. I think the Yankees make a big push for him and he signs for four years/$88 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: The Jays made their big outfield splash last year with George Springer and won’t feel the need to do it again. Marte is aging like a fine wine and is easily the best all-around outfielder on the market this winter.
13. SP Marcus Stroman, Mets
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Marcus Stroman is a ground-ball machine. After opting out of the 2020 season, he accepted the qualifying offer from the New York Mets for 2021. Stroman, 30, had an excellent season that could be a springboard to a significant multi-year deal. He had a 3.02 ERA, which was eighth best in the NL. His arsenal fits in every ballpark since hitters have a tough time elevating the ball against him. He is best served with a solid defensive infield behind him. He brings predictability as he made 33 starts in 2021. The Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Cubs, Giants, and Angels are all possible options for Stroman. He is a perfect fit for the Cardinals and their three Gold Glove infielders, and they sign him for five years/$110 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: One of the more entertaining players — and scrums — that has spent time in Toronto, there’s no chance of a reunion for the Stro Show and the Jays. That simply has to do with the front office not seeing him as a clubhouse fit, and not the talent. Coming off an excellent 2021 season, Stroman’s durability and ability to induce weak contact are the selling points, despite this being a high-strikeout age. If he can add a bit more swing and miss, Stroman could be a bargain.
14. SP Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Eduardo Rodriguez won 19 games in 2019 (3.81 ERA) and looked like he was emerging as the ace that the Red Sox hoped he could become. But he missed the entire 2020 season recovering from a heart issue stemming from COVID-19. His overall numbers this year don’t immediately attract you (4.74 ERA, .277 OBA) but the peripherals tell a more compelling story. Rodriguez’s fielding independent pitching (FIP), a stat that measures a pitcher's effectiveness at preventing HR, BB, HBP and causing SO, was 3.32. This shows how he pitched better than the results indicate. He struck out 185 batters in 1572. IP. He will pitch at 29, next season. The Sox extended the qualifying offer to him, but he will likely turn it down and get a multi-year deal. The Giants, Dodgers, Angels, Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, and Cubs all pursue him. The Red Sox will keep their lefty ace for five years/$110 million
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: Here’s this winter’s weird stats case. On the surface, E-Rod’s 2021 ERA of 4.74 was ugly, but every single peripheral says he pitched much better than the results say and there could be sunny days ahead. How lucky does a team feel? Rodriguez could be one of the best values this winter or he could continue to post middling results on the mound and great results in a computer.
15. 1B Anthony Rizzo, Yankees
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Anthony Rizzo is a predictable steady professional hitter. He won’t lead the league in any one category, but he will be solid across the board. He is a Gold Glove calibre defender at first base. He is a winner and a great teammate. He crowds the plate and gets on base while still slugging home runs. For a team looking for a quality left-handed power bat, he is an answer. At 32, it won’t take a long-term deal to get him. The Yankees and Red Sox were the two teams that were a fit at the trade deadline. The Giants may be an option as well if Brandon Belt rejects the QO. The Yankees will resign Rizzo for three years/$60 million and keep his left-handed bat in the lineup.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: Similar to Freeman, the Jays won’t be in on any cold-corner-only players with Vladdy Jr. around and it’s hard to make a case for adding a DH-type bat.
16. SP Justin Verlander, Astros
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Justin Verlander hasn’t appeared in a game since July of 2020. He underwent Tommy John surgery and missed all of this season. That might mean the end for most 38 year-old pitchers but not Verlander. The two-time Cy Young award winner has rehabbed and is working his way back to the mound. He was extended the qualifying offer from the Houston Astros, but indications are that there may be enough interest to garner a multi-year deal. He recently threw a bullpen session in front of 20 teams and may get multi-year offers. The Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Giants, Astros, Tigers, Rangers, Phillies, Mariners, Blue Jays and Cardinals will all kick the tires. The Giants need to rebuild their pitching staff. They will like the short-term nature of the deal and sign Verlander for two years/$40 million plus incentives.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: The Jays were one of many teams watching the soon-to-be 39-year-old’s showcase in Florida this week and the fit is almost perfect. He has a qualifying offer attached to him and there’s all sorts of risk for a pitcher at his age coming off Tommy John surgery, but those who saw him throw said the stuff was crisp and it was essentially vintage Verlander. If Verlander is interested in joining former teammate George Springer in Toronto, the Jays will push hard, and a short-term deal might work for both parties.
17. OF Kyle Schwarber, Red Sox
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Kyle Schwarber’s value has always been more about his offence than defence. He is a slugger who takes his walks too. Schwarber, 28, only played 113 games in 2021 due to a lingering hamstring injury but still hit 32 home runs between Washington and Boston. Interestingly, he crushed the baseball (.291/.435/.522) while still recovering from the hamstring issue and learning to play first base. He is a subpar defender no matter where he plays. He is a big power-hitting left-handed bat that has performed well in the postseason. If the universal DH is part of the game moving forward, then there will be plenty of clubs interested in Schwarber. He will get four years/$68 million from the Minnesota Twins.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: The Jays would have to trade an outfielder to start dabbling in the corner outfielder market, but there’s no doubt Schwarber’s lefty bat and significant pop would fit. The 28-year-old picked a great time to run up a career-best 145 wRC+.
18. 2B/OF Chris Taylor, Dodgers
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Chris Taylor, 31, is much like Kris Bryant. He can play every day at one position or every day at multiple positions. He is a manager’s best friend, as he solves problems. Wherever there is an injury, he is the solution. He can play anywhere on the field except pitcher and catcher. Plus, he is an above-average hitter. Taylor has pop in his bat (20 HR), and he can run (13 SB). He has shown the ability to elevate his game in the big moments It will be interesting to see if the market treats him like a starter or a super utilityman. He is a fit for the White Sox, Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, Mets, Phillies, Guardians, and Tigers. I think he should take the QO, but he won’t and will get three years and $36 million from the Phillies.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: A tremendously valuable player to the Dodgers this season thanks to his versatility, Taylor will be in high demand this winter. The Jays seem more inclined to develop these types of players rather than go out and spend on them, but Taylor would fit perfectly at second base while also having the ability to dabble at third, short and see significant time in the outfield.
19. SP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Clayton Kershaw was unable to pitch at the end of the 2021 season. He is dealing forearm/elbow tightness. He had a plasma injection treatment to aid the healing process, but it is unclear exactly what the prognosis might be. The future Hall of Famer has only known one team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, his entire career. The Dodgers did not extend the qualifying offer to Kershaw, which is instructive. They know him better than anyone and didn’t think he was worth the risk at $18.4 million. It is hard to imagine him pitching for anyone but L.A. If Kershaw doesn’t pitch for the Dodgers, then he will likely pitch for the Rangers, which is home for him. The Dodgers will keep him on a one year deal/$15 million plus incentives.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: The Dodgers surprisingly didn’t give Kershaw a qualifying offer, leaving him free to test the market without draft pick compensation attached. Similar to the other two future Hall of Fame arms on this list, Kershaw has health red flags, but he’s still been very good when healthy. Sort of like Freeman, it's hard to picture the 33-year-old in any other uniform and it seems likely he’s back in the Dodgers rotation next year.
20. SP Noah Syndergaard, Mets
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Noah Syndergaard received a qualifying offer from the New York Mets, and he will likely take it. He had Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2020. His rehab had some ups and downs, but he was finally to return to the mound for two innings at the end of this season. The 29-year-old right-hander has power stuff. He wants to stay in New York, and he could use 2022 as a platform year to back out to free agency next off-season or to negotiate an extension with the Mets. He will pitch at 29, so he is still young enough to score a mega deal a year from now. Syndergaard will accept the QO from the Mets.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: The only thing that matters when it comes to Syndergaard’s free-agent case is that the New York Mets gave him a qualifying offer that he’s likely to accept coming off two injury-riddled seasons. There’s really no reason for Thor to do anything other than take the $18.4 million guarantee and hope for a healthy 2022 campaign. If that happens, he’ll be in the top five on this list a year from now.
21. OF Michael Conforto, Mets
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Michael Conforto had a disappointing platform season in 2021(.232/.344/.384 with only 14 HR). He was hoping it would serve as a springboard to a huge multi-year deal, but instead it was a bust. The Mets opted to sign shortstop Francisco Lindor in the spring and didn’t make a deal with Conforto. It seemed to affect him. Despite the down year, the Mets extended the qualifying offer to him. They fully expected he would accept it, betting on himself to have a big year and then go to the market next year with a better platform season. Instead, he rejected the QO, hoping that his career numbers will be enough to overcome 2021. He is a middle-of-the-lineup left-handed bat at his best and an average outfielder. The Mets, Marlins, Braves, Nationals, Phillies, Guardians, White Sox, Giants, Padres, Royals and Rangers could all use a corner outfielder. He signs with the Padres for four years/$64 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: A lot of people expected Conforto to accept the qualifying offer, but he quickly rejected that and expects to field multi-year offers on the open market. Coming off his worst season with the bat, it’s an interesting strategy, but there will be lots of teams eyeing a bounce-back season and a value deal. The Jays are prioritizing lefty bats, making Conforto a great fit if they shift some other pieces around in trades.
22. OF Seiya Suzuki, Hiroshima Carp (Japan)
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Seiya Suzuki is a right-handed hitting outfielder who plays for the Hiroshima Carp in Japan. He will likely be posted in December and eligible to sign with any of the 30 teams. He has been compared to Ronald Acuna Jr. in Japan. He hit 38 homers this season and had a 1.079 OPS. He has tremendous plate discipline (87 BB/86K), which is transferrable to MLB. Often, players from Japan haven’t hit with the same power when they make the transition. The other difficulty is that pitchers throw much harder than in Japan, where pitchers throw a lot of off-speed pitches and breaking balls. Interest will come from both coasts. The Mets, Nationals, Phillies, Padres, Giants, and Rangers will be in on him. Texas will sign him for four years/$60 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: The Hiroshima Carp star is this year’s lottery ticket, and the prime-age outfielder has a lot of teams intrigued after bashing 38 homers with a 1.079 OPS during his age-26 campaign last season in Japan. Adding another right-handed hitting outfielder doesn’t seem to be something that interests the Jays … unless the current outfield picture changes before he signs.
23. RP Raisel Iglesias, Angels
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Raisel Iglesias is the top closer available in free agency. He received the QO from the Angels, which leaves him with an interesting decision. At $18.4 million he would have the highest single-season value of a contract ever for a closer. He could turn the offer into an extension with Los Angeles or he could reject the offer and go get the best multi-year deal possible. He has overpowering stuff and finally looks like he has found himself as a pitcher. He is a difference-maker at the end of the game. I suspect Iglesias accepts the QO from the Angels and turns it into a negotiation for an extension of four years $66 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: The top reliever on the market, Iglesias likely won’t get the $54 million Liam Hendriks got a year ago, but there definitely could be a three-year deal for $15-million plus there for him in the end. There’s no arguing he’d look great at the back end of the Jays bullpen.
24. RP Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Kenley Jansen had another terrific season as the closer for the Dodgers. He saved 38 of 43 games. His cutter is still a nasty pitch and his fastball velocity ramped back up this year a couple of ticks. At the age of 34, he is battle-tested. He can still get the big outs in the ninth inning. He fits for teams on the verge of winning and those with bigger aspirations. The Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Phillies, Blue Jays, Angels, Red Sox and Nationals all make sense for Jansen. I think the Blue Jays sign him to a three-year, $49.5 million deal, which will allow Charlie Montoyo to shorten the game by moving the rest of the bullpen forward.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: Jansen has been one of the most reliable closers in the game for the better part of 10 years now and he picked a great time to post his best season since 2017 with a 2.22 ERA and a bump in velocity. Heading into his age-34 season, Jansen’s walks are creeping up, but it’s hard to argue with the overall body of work. There’s a chance the Jays could end up shopping in the established closer market, but it doesn’t seem likely.
25. SP Jon Gray, Rockies
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Jon Gray has been an above average in his career. It is hard to evaluate pitchers who throw in Colorado, but he has found a way to be effective there over the years. He is tough and competitive. I would love to see him outside of Colorado. He really wants to stay though, and I believe they will retain him. Not many pitchers want to pitch there unless they get overpaid. He will stay with the Rockies for four years/$48 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: The mid-tier starting pitching market has a number of interesting names who will be seeking three years in the $30-40 million range, and that’s an area the Jays have been comfortable making offers in over the past couple of winters. This might be the year they get one of them to accept and Gray’s a big-bodied right-hander who may have some upside left at the age of 30. One thing to note: His career ERA inside Coors is 4.54, but it’s even worse on the road at 4.65.
26. SP Steven Matz, Blue Jays
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Steven Matz had a stellar 2021. He was an excellent acquisition by the Blue Jays. In the past, he would be a streaky pitcher that faded in the second half. This season he showed the maturity to push through, and he came out the other side. The Jays’ coaching staff and being around Robbie Ray really helped him. His 2.92 ERA after the all-star break was among the best in the AL. The Giants, Angels, Royals, Twins, Cubs, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Cardinals will all have interest in the 30 year-old lefty. He will re-sign with the Blue Jays for four years/ $60 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: The only reason more people weren't talking about Matz’s season was because there were so many standout season on the Jays’ roster. Even though the overall 3.82 ERA doesn’t jump off the page, but he was a different pitcher after the all-star break, posting a 2.91 mark over his final 74.1 innings. The Jays would love to plug him back into the back end of their rotation, but he’s already had a number of clubs check in.
27. SP Anthony DeSclafani, Giants
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Anthony DeSclafani has shown flashes of brilliance in his career. The 31- year-old righty made 31 starts for the Giants and was consistently good. He pitched to a 3.17 ERA. He is not a big-time strikeout pitcher but makes pitches to get outs when he is in a jam. He is a win-now pitcher. The Giants want him back, but they will have to outmanoeuvre the Angels, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Twins, Yankees, Cubs and Mets. The Blue Jays will sign him for 3 years/$39 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: Drafted by the Jays in the sixth round way back in 2011, Tony Disco did what every San Francisco Giant did in 2021 — had a career year. The Jays will absolutely check in here, but like Matz and Gray above, there will be no shortage of suitors. Heading into his age-32 season, there’s still some upside here if he continues to stay healthy like he did in 2021.
28. SP Carlos Rodon, White Sox
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Carlos Rodon is a power left-hander who was an all-star last season with the White Sox. He was 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA and struck out an amazing 185 batters in only 132.2 innings pitched. Opponents only hit .189 against him. He threw a no-hitter against Cleveland in April. The first half of his season he was on his way to the Cy Young award, but shoulder problems flared up. His velocity dropped. He only made nine starts after the break and threw just 43 innings. It was called shoulder fatigue. But not even 10 days off between starts helped him in September. Teams will want a full and intensive examination of his pitching arm. It will cost him years on the contract and millions of dollars. Every team that needs pitching will want him, but he will only get a one-year deal. The White Sox know him the best and I believe they will re-sign him for $8 million with incentives.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: After looking mostly dominant in his 24 starts, the Chicago White Sox decided not to give the lefty a qualifying offer, which raises some questions. They know the medicals better than anyone, so it’ll be interesting to see where Rodon’s market goes after posting a 2.37 ERA and piling up 4.9 fWAR. When healthy, the stuff is nasty, but the Jays might not like the amount of risk attached unless it’s a one-year deal.
29. SP Zack Greinke, Astros
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Greinke isn’t as good as he once was, but he is as good once as he ever was. The veteran righty can still get by on guile and moxie. He is battle-tested and has pitched in a ton of big games. He doesn’t have much left in the tank, but enough to play another year. The Cardinals, Rays, Royals, Twins and Brewers could all be a fit for the veteran righty. Tampa Bay like veteran pitchers who can go once or twice through the lineup. That’s what he is now. I believe he will sign with the Rays for one year/$8 million.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: At this point in his career, Greinke is a low-K control artist who can eat some mid-rotation innings. That has value and the 38-year-old will have lots of teams interested, but there’s not a whole lot of upside here. Like the rest of these arms, the Jays will gauge the price and weigh the alternatives, knowing full well they have two rotation spots to fill.
30. SP Corey Kluber, Yankees
PHILLIPS’ FITS: Corey Kluber missed a significant part of the season with the Yankees with a shoulder strain – the same shoulder that was previously surgically repaired. The Yankees signed him hoping to catch lightning in a bottle, but his arm just wasn’t up for it. He only was able to make 16 starts and throw 80 innings. His work when healthy was more than adequate, but he is a major health risk. He will have to be managed with kid gloves and no one will risk more than one year on a deal. The Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Angels, White Sox, Blue Jays, and Cubs will have interest. I believe he will sign with the Angels for one year/$8 million with incentives.
MITCHELL’S JAYS’ VIEW: Kluber will be 36 next season and his 80 frames this season were his most since 2018. When healthy in 2021, he didn’t exactly look like the ace he’s been in the past, but there will be teams ready to gamble that he’ll be able to give them 150 or so quality innings next year. The Jays liked him last winter before he signed with the Yankees so there could be some interest again this winter.
31. DH Nelson Cruz, Rays
32. 3B/2B Eduardo Escobar, Brewers
33. 3B Kyle Seager, Mariners
34. 1B Brandon Belt, Giants
35. OF Jorge Soler, Braves
36. RP Kendall Graveman, Astros
37. OF Avisail Garcia, Brewers
38. RP Mark Melancon, Padres
39. SP Alex Wood, Giants
40. SP Alex Cobb, Angels
41. RP Corey Knebel, Dodgers
42. SP Michael Pineda, Twins
43. OF Tommy Pham, Padres
44. OF Mark Canha, A’s
45. OF Eddie Rosario, Braves
46. OF Andrew McCutchen, Phillies
47. OF Joc Pederson, Braves
48. SP Danny Duffy, Dodgers
49. SP James Paxton, Mariners
50. SP Dylan Bundy, Angels