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Who’s left in MLB free agency?

Matt Chapman Cody Bellinger Blake Snell Toronto Blue Jays Chicago Cubs San Diego Padres Matt Chapman Cody Bellinger Blake Snell - The Canadian Press

With the arrival of the new year comes one of every baseball fan’s most anticipated countdowns – days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

Players usually start arriving at facilities by mid-February even though official dates vary from team to team. A week or two later, spring games start and by then it’s only about one month until Opening Day. It all happens fast.

What hasn’t happened fast is the MLB off-season. The really big fish are long gone with both Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers. And there have been a few big deals here and there like Aaron Nola going back to the Philadelphia Phillies or Jung Hoo Lee landing in San Francisco.

But there are plenty of free agents still left on the board. The majority, actually.

Of TSN’s Top 50 MLB Free Agents list released in November, only 20 players have signed. Five of the top 10 free agents are still looking for teams, including last year’s National League Cy Young winner and the Comeback Player of the Year.

As the MLB off-season lukewarm stove continues with no end in sight, here is a look at some of the best free agents remaining from around the league and teams they’ve been connected to so far.

Cody Bellinger

Cody Bellinger Chicago Cubs

Bellinger was a free agent last off-season but had to take a one-year ‘prove it’ deal with the Cubs after dismal 2021 and 2022 seasons. Well, he proved it, and he’s about to cash in because of it.

The No. 3 free agent on TSN’s list, Bellinger won the NL’s Comeback Player of the Year Award after having his best statistical season since before the pandemic, slashing .307/.356/.525 with 26 home runs and 97 RBI in 130 games. He finished 10th in MVP voting and proved he’s back on track after a couple tough years.

The Cubs spent $50 million on manager Craig Counsell but haven’t done a thing since, so paying up to keep Bellinger seems like a possibility. After missing out on Ohtani and Juan Soto, the Blue Jays have also come up in the Bellinger discussion but did bring back Kevin Kiermaier last week, which could mean all the outfield spots are already spoken for barring a trade.

Heading into his age-29 season, Bellinger is the top position-player free agent remaining and has a number of teams after his services. The New York Post’s Jon Heyman reported last month Bellinger is seeking $200-plus million and might just get it if he’s able to inspire a bidding war.


Blake Snell

San Diego Padres

Snell would have been the top pitcher available in most other off-seasons. But Yamamoto and, technically, Ohtani bumped him down a bit, placing him at No. 4 on TSN’s top 50 list. How often does a two-time Cy Young winner and the most recent winner of the award hit the market and go unsigned into January?

Snell made a career-best 32 starts and put up a lights-out 2.25 ERA with 234 strikeouts in 180.0 innings pitched. He did lead MLB in walks (99) but rarely ever allowed them to come around and score, limiting opposing offences to a league-best 5.8 hits per nine innings.

The market on Snell has been quiet considering his track record. He’s 31 and struggled with durability in recent years before 2023, and teams may see a bit of a red flag with his high walk rate. But two Cy Youngs and two ERA titles are hard to argue with. Lefties are always in high demand, especially elite ones.


Matt Chapman

Matt Chapman Toronto Blue Jays

It was a tale of two seasons for Matt Chapman in 2023.

He slashed .259/.344/.463 with 41 extra-base hits through the first 88 games of the season but hit just .205 in the final 52 contests with little power. Most of his numbers from the first half of the year came in April, where he had 15 doubles – the most ever for an American League player and tied with Mike Lowell from 2002 for the most ever.

On aggregate, it was a fine season for Chapman. He hit 17 home runs, drove in 54 and had a .755 OPS while continuing to play elite defence at third base.

Heyman and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported last week the Giants were in on Chapman. A return to the Blue Jays could also make sense if they don’t end up with Bellinger and the Cubs also have a hole at the hot corner with Jeimer Candelario joining the Cincinnati Reds. 


Jordan Montgomery

Jordan Montgomery Texas Rangers

Someone raises their stock in free agency every year with a strong postseason performance and it looks like Jordan Montgomery is the 2023 edition of that.

Montgomery played a big part in the Rangers’ World Series run, pitching to a 2.90 ERA in six postseason outings, including a seven-inning shutout in Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Rays. That was all on the back of the best regular season of his career, where he posted a 3.20 ERA.

The No. 7-ranked player on TSN’s top 50The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported the Yankees discussed a possible reunion earlier in the off-season and Heyman listed the Yankees, Giants, Angels, Mets, Red Sox and Phillies as possibilities last week.


Josh Hader

Josh Hader San Diego Padres

Josh Hader is as good as it gets at the back end of a major league bullpen.

He was an All-Star for the fifth time in 2023, saving 33 of his 38 opportunities and striking out 85 hitters in 56.1 innings with a 1.28 ERA. He also rebounded nicely from a difficult 2022 season, fully rebuilding his value after his trade from Milwaukee to San Diego. Hader is primarily a two-pitch pitcher with a lethal sinker-slider combination that makes him elite in virtually every category.

The Athletic’s Jim Bowden reported last week Hader is looking for a deal bigger than Edwin Diaz’s five-year, $102 million contract. No other reliever has signed for more, with Aroldis Chapman ($86 million), Kenley Jansen ($80 million) and Mark Melancon ($62 million) receiving the next biggest free agent closer contracts.

Hader will join that group. The only question is if he ends up topping it.

TSN's Top 50 MLB Free Agents of 2023

Player Position 2023 Team Signs With
1. Shohei Ohtani DH/P Angels Dodgers
2. Yoshinobu Yamamoto P Orix Buffaloes Dodgers
3. Cody Bellinger OF Cubs -
4. Blake Snell P Padres -
5. Aaron Nola P Phillies Phillies
6. Matt Chapman 3B Blue Jays -
7. Jordan Montgomery P Cardinals/Rangers -
8. Josh Hader P Padres -
9. Sonny Gray P Twins Cardinals
10. Eduardo Rodriguez P Tigers Diamondbacks
11. Marcus Stroman P Cubs -
12. Jung Hoo Lee OF Kiwoom Heroes Giants
13. Lucas Giolito P White Sox/Angels/Guardians Red Sox
14. Shota Imanaga P Yokohama Bay Stars Cubs
15. Jorge Soler OF Marlins -
16. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. OF Diamondbacks Diamondbacks
17. Teoscar Hernandez OF Mariners Dodgers
18. Rhys Hoskins 1B Phillies -
19. Jeimer Candelario 3B Nationals/Cubs Reds
20. Tim Anderson SS White Sox -
21. Jordan Hicks P Cardinals/Blue Jays -
22. Clayton Kershaw P Dodgers -
23. Luis Severino P Yankees Mets
24. Jack Flaherty P Cardinals/Orioles Tigers
25. Justin Turner 3B Red Sox -
26. Tyler Mahle P Twins Rangers
27. Frankie Montas P Yankees Reds
28. J.D. Martinez DH Dodgers -
29. Kenta Maeda P Twins Tigers
30. Mitch Garver C Rangers Mariners
31. Yuki Matsui P Rakuten Golden Eagles Padres
32. Aroldis Chapman P Royals/Rangers -
33. Lance Lynn P White Sox/Dodgers Cardinals
34. Whit Merrifield 2B Blue Jays -
35. Craig Kimbrel P Phillies Orioles
36. James Paxton P Red Sox -
37. Kevin Kiermaier OF Blue Jays Blue Jays
38. Seth Lugo P Padres Royals
39. Harrison Bader OF Yankees/Reds Mets
40. Joc Pederson OF Giants -
41. Brandon Belt 1B Blue Jays -
42. Michael Wacha P Padres Royals
43. Tommy Pham OF Mets/Diamondbacks -
44. Mike Clevinger P White Sox -
45. Carlos Santana 1B Pirates/Brewers -
46. Michael Brantley OF Astros Retired
47. Hyun Jin Ryu P Blue Jays -
48. Sean Manaea P Giants -
49. Robert Stephenson P Rays -
50. Joey Votto 1B Reds -

**Ranking compiled by TSN Blue Jays Reporter Scott Mitchell and TSN Baseball Insider Steve Phillips