As teams around the MLB get set to break out the chequebook this winter, TSN Blue Jays Reporter Scott Mitchell and TSN Baseball Insider Steve Phillips rank the top 50 free agents, predict where they could land and examine what sort of payday they might be looking at. Here are the top 50 free agents from one of the most anticipated classes in baseball history:
1. Manny Machado
Position: 3B, SS Age: 26 2018 Salary: $16M
2018 Stats: .297 BA, 37 HR, 107 RBI, .905 OPS, 6.2 WAR
Mitchell's take: A premium talent at a premium position, Machado is the jewel of this free-agent market, even if some were questioning his style of play and hustle in the postseason. Blessed with a cannon for an arm that fits at either position on the left side, Machado has already been worth 30.2 WAR in his career and the scary part is he’s just now entering his prime years.
Phillips' fit: New York Yankees
With Didi Gregorius out at least until June after Tommy John surgery, the Yankees need a solution at shortstop. He fits the Yankees’ needs better than Bryce Harper and they have coveted him for years.
Predicted price: 12 years, $360 million
2. Bryce Harper
Position: OF Age: 26 2018 Salary: $21.6M
2018 Stats: .249 BA, 34 HR, 100 RBI, .889 OPS, 3.5 WAR
Mitchell's take: The second franchise-type talent to be set free, Harper has now alternated between hitting under .250 in odd-numbered years and over .300 when the year ends in an even number. Harper has already piled up 30.7 WAR in his career and there may be another level yet. He’s a better fit in right field, but some teams could look at him in centre if that’s the need.
Phillips' fit: Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies are desperate for a superstar and Harper fits perfectly in right field. His intensity will be appreciated by the fans. It’s a double victory for the Phillies as they take him away from one of their closest rivals in Washington.
Predicted price: 10 years, $310 million
3. Patrick Corbin (Washington Nationals)
Position: SP Age: 29 2018 Salary: $7.5M
2018 Stats: 200 IP, 11-7, 3.15 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 6.3 WAR
Mitchell's take: Good time for a career year. The lefty posted a career best in just about every stat and metric, including a 3.15 ERA, a 2.47 FIP and 6.3 WAR (as per FanGraphs). He struck out more than 11 per nine innings, doesn’t walk many, and also gets ground balls. The Yankees have been salivating over the 29-year-old for a while now.
Signs with: Washington Nationals
Contract: Six years, $140 million
4. Nathan Eovaldi (Boston Red Sox)
Position: SP Age: 28 2018 Salary: $2M
2018 Stats: 111 IP, 6-7, 3.81 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 2.2 WAR
Mitchell's take: Fresh off a mesmerizing postseason performance, like Corbin, Eovaldi hits the market at a perfect time. For his wallet, at least, not owners who will have to pony up to add this power pitcher to their rotation. Arm injuries have been a concern in the past — he missed all of 2017 while recovering from Tommy John surgery — but he sure looked to be over that hump during his time in Boston.
Signs with: Boston Red Sox
Contract: Four years, $67.5 million
5. Craig Kimbrel
Position: RP Age: 30 2018 Salary: $13M
2018 Stats: 62.1 IP, 42 SV, 2.74 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 1.5 WAR
Mitchell's take: Last winter, the Dodgers gave closer Kenley Jansen $80 million over five years, setting a new bar for firemen. With 333 saves and a career 1.91 ERA on his resume, the 30-year-old is going to want that type of money, but will he get it? He struggled in the second half with a 4.57 ERA and that continued into the postseason, but he still finished with a 2.74 ERA and 42 saves.
Phillips' fit: Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are built to win for several more years. Kimbrel is the best available closer and the Red Sox aren’t shy about spending money. They will keep their guy by making him the highest paid closer.
Predicted price: Four years, $72 million.
6. Dallas Keuchel
Position: SP Age: 30 2018 Salary: $13.2M
2018 Stats: 204.2 IP, 11-12, 3.74 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, WAR: 3.6
Mitchell's take: The 2015 American League Cy Young winner has yet to equal that type of dominance over the past three seasons, but he still gets boatloads of groundballs (53.7 per cent in 2018 and 58.8 per cent over his career) and he’ll get boatloads of money. Keuchel made 34 starts this season, registering a 3.74 ERA that helped him accumulate 3.6 WAR.
Phillips' fit: Washington Nationals
He will replace Gio Gonzalez in the Washington rotation. He slots in between the two big right-handers, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. The Nats want to maximize their investment in Scherzer and rotational balance will help. He is a different look that will work nicely in the NL.
Predicted price: Four years, $80 million
7. Josh Donaldson (Atlanta Braves)
Position: 3B Age: 32 2018 Salary: $23M
2018 Stats: .246 BA, 8 HR, 23 RBI, .801 OPS, 1.3 WAR
Mitchell's take: The Bringer of Rain is the most interesting free-agent case of the winter. The former MVP struggled with injuries all season, but unlike 2017, even when he was on the field he didn’t produce. Add it all up and Donaldson heads into free agency after playing just 52 games and putting up a .801 OPS with eight homers. If he’s confident his body won’t fail him again, the soon-to-be 33-year-old could seek a one-year deal and try to hit the market again next year.
Signs with: Atlanta Braves
Contract: One year, $23 million
8. Michael Brantley (Houston Astros)
Position: OF Age: 31 2018 Salary: $11.5M
2018 Stats: .309 BA, 17 HR, 76 RBI, .832 OPS, 3.5 WAR
Mitchell's take: Playing more than 100 games for the first time since 2015, Brantley finally returned to health to slash .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs this season. He doesn’t provide any defensive value and is strictly a left fielder, but a 124 wRC+ shows he can rake and he’s a good baserunner, too.
Signs with: Houston Astros
Contract: Two years, $32 million
9. A.J. Pollock
Position: OF Age: 30 2018 Salary: $7.75M
2018 Stats: .257 BA, 21 HR, 65 RBI, 800 OPS, 2.5 WAR
Mitchell's take: If Pollock hadn’t missed significant chunks of time over the last three seasons, he’d be higher on this list. But in six big league seasons, Pollock has managed to accumulate more than 500 plate appearances just once. In his age-30 season this past summer, Pollock slashed a disappointing .257/.316/.484, but he did hit 21 homers and steal 13 bases in 113 games. He’s a versatile and productive player who can defend well in centre.
Phillips' fit: San Francisco Giants
The Giants are going to try and compete in the tough NL West and that starts with replacing Hunter Pence and Andrew McCutchen in their outfield. The Giants are familiar with Pollock as they have faced him many times. He was once one of the best outfielders in the NL until injuries hampered him. The Giants will hope to keep him healthy and for a boost in recent performance.
Predicted price: Four years, $56 million
10. Charlie Morton (Tampa Bay Rays)
Position: SP Age: 34 2018 Salary: $7M
2018 Stats: 167 IP, 15-3, 3.13 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 3.1 WAR
Mitchell's take: A spin-rate darling that the Astros helped push to by far the two best seasons of his career over the past two years, the 35-year-old was an All-Star for the first time this season, posting a 3.13 ERA and 3.1 WAR. Despite a career marked by injuries — two hip surgeries, elbow surgery and shoulder and hamstring issues — Morton is one of the more attractive mid-rotation options for contenders.
Signs with: Tampa Bay Rays
Contract: Two years, $30 million
11. Andrew McCutchen (Philadelphia Phillies)
Position: OF Age: 32 2018 Salary: $14.75M
2018 Stats: .255 BA, 20 HR, 65 RBI, .774 OPS, 2.6 WAR
Mitchell's take: While he may not be the superstar he was during his prime when he put up seasons of 5.5, 7.4, 8.1, 7.4, and 6.0 WAR from 2011-15, Cutch is still as consistent as they come. He’s had more than 600 plate appearances in each of his nine MLB seasons and carries a carry .378 on-base percentage, including a .368 mark during his time with the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees this season. You know what you’re getting here.
Signs with: Philadelphia Phillies
Contract: Three years, $50 million
12. Zach Britton (New York Yankees)
Position: RP Age: 30 2018 Salary: $12M
2018 Stats: 40.2 IP, 2-0, 3.10 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 0.1 WAR
Mitchell's take: Robbed of half of his 2018 season after tearing his Achilles last December, the lefty with the power sinker wasn’t as dominant upon returning in June, but still managed to post a 2.88 ERA with the Yankees down the stretch. Another year removed from the injury, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Britton get back to being one of the best closers in the game in 2019, and he’ll likely be asking to be paid that way, too.
Signs with: New York Yankees
Contract: Three years, $39 million
13. Yasmani Grandal (Milwaukee Brewers)
Position: C Age: 29 2018 Salary: $7.9M
2018 Stats: .241 BA, 24 HR, 68 RBI, .815 OPS, 3.6 WAR
Mitchell's take: Another example of players ratcheting things up during a contract year, Grandal posted 3.6 WAR in 2018, the second-best total for a catcher in baseball behind J.T. Realmuto. Despite struggling mightily in the postseason the past two years, Grandal has power (22-plus homers in each of the past three seasons), can defend, and he’s lauded for his pitch framing.
Signs with: Milwaukee Brewers
Contract: One year, $18.25 million
14. Daniel Murphy (Colorado Rockies)
Position: 2B Age: 33 2018 Salary: $17.5
2018 Stats: .299 BA, 12 HR, 42 RBI, .790 OPS, 0.8 WAR
Mitchell's take: Off-season knee surgery contributed to a slow start for the veteran this year, but he was still able to slash .299/.336/.454 with 12 homers in 91 games. If his health checks out, there will be teams that look at his 2016 and 2017 seasons — .985 and .928 OPS, respectively — and wonder if he can back to that with a healthy off-season and more time to recover from microfracture surgery, one of the tougher knee procedures for an athlete.
Signs with: Colorado Rockies
Contract: Two years, $24 million
15. Jed Lowrie (New York Mets)
Position: 2B, 3B, SS Age: 34 2018 Salary: $6M
2018 Stats: .267 BA, 23 HR, 99 RBI, .801 OPS, 4.9 WAR
Mitchell's take: Lost in the shuffle out on the West Coast, Lowrie authored a career year in 2018, hitting 23 home runs on his way to a 4.9 WAR season. Combine that with a solid campaign in 2017 and Lowrie has now been worth 8.5 WAR over the past two seasons. A well-rounded switch-hitter with power who plays an adequate second base, Lowrie will be an interesting case in a deep second base market.
Signs with: New York Mets
Contract: Two years, $20 million
16. J.A. Happ (New York Yankees)
Position: SP Age: 36 2018 Salary: $13M
2018 Stats: 177.2 IP, 17-6, 3.65 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 3.2 WAR
Mitchell's take: Seen as a ho-hum addition in the New York market at the trade deadline, Happ dazzled in pinstripes, going 7-0 with a 2.69 in 11 starts down the stretch. Like a fine wine, the 36-year-old lefty seems to be getting better with age and is striking out more hitters than ever now that he’s confident pitching up in the zone.
Signs with: New York Yankees
Contract: Two years, $34 million
17. Mike Moustakas
Position: 3B Age: 30 2018 Salary: $6.5M
2018 Stats: .251 BA, 28 HR, 95 RBI, .774 OPS, 2.4 WAR
Mitchell's take: Coming off a 38-homer season in 2017, the market simply wasn’t there for Moose last winter and he ended up re-signing in Kansas City for one year in order to try it again this year. While he couldn’t equal the power, Moustakas managed to hit 28 homers and put up 2.4 WAR, which should have teams interested in a third base market that has Josh Donaldson, potentially Adrian Beltre, and not much else.
Phillips' fit: Chicago White Sox
He offers the young Sox roster a veteran presence and leader. He is familiar with the division from his time with the Royals. His grit and toughness fit nicely with this team in transition.
Predicted price: Three years, $36 million
18. Nelson Cruz (Minnesota Twins)
Position: DH Age: 38 2018 Salary: $14.25M
2018 Stats: .256 BA, 37 HR, 97 RBI, .850, 2.5 WAR
Mitchell's take: Some players start to crater once they enter their mid-30s, making it all the more amazing to watch a player like Cruz continue to bash. Now 38 years old, the last deal Cruz signed — four years, $58 million — turned out to be a bargain, and he’s coming off a 37-homer season. Sure, he’s DH-only, but another 134 wRC+ will play anywhere.
Signs with: Minnesota Twins
Contract: One year, $14 million, $12 million club option for 2020
19. Gio Gonzalez
Position: SP Age: 33 2018 Salary: $12M
2018 Stats: 171 IP, 10-11, 4.21 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 2.0 WAR
Mitchell's take: Gonzalez likely wishes he hit free agency a year ago, as the lefty wasn’t able to duplicate his 2.96 ERA from 2017. The strikeouts were down and the walks were up, leading to a 4.21 ERA, but the 33-year-old did go 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in five starts once he was traded to the Brewers.
Phillips' fit: Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati’s offence is as competitive as any but the need to upgrade their pitching. They have tried to develop their young pitchers but have had no veterans as role models. Gonzalez gives them a veteran presence at a reasonable price.
Predicted price: Three years, $45 million
20. Marwin Gonzalez
Position: UTL Age: 29 2018 Salary: $5.125M
2018 Stats: .247 BA, 16 HR, 68 RBI, .733 OPS, 1.6 WAR
Mitchell's take: This switch-hitter wasn’t able to replicate his 4.0 WAR 2017 season, falling to just 1.6 WAR after slashing just .247/.324/.409 and watching his wRC+ go from 144 to 104. Still, what Gonzalez offers is a ton of positional flexibility — he played every spot on the field other than pitcher or catcher in 2018 — and he’s only heading into his age-30 season.
Phillips' fit: Pittsburgh Pirates
Gonzalez’s versatility will fit most NL clubs. The Pirates can’t afford power or depth as a small-market team. Gonzalez provides both of them in one shot. He can start every day at one position or play a different position every day. A perfect replacement for Josh Harrison as a super sub.
Predicted price: Three years, $39 million
21. Yusei Kikuchi (Seattle Mariners)
Position: SP Age: 27 2018 Salary: N/A
2018 Stats: 163.2 IP, 14-4, 3.80 ERA, 1.03 WHIP
Mitchell’s take: The Seibu Lions have reportedly agreed to post Kikuchi, placing an intriguing 27-year-old left-hander on the market. There are some shoulder concerns, but Kikuchi can run his fastball up into the mid-nineties from the left side and he’s gotten results, going 14-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 23 games for Seibu this season, striking out 153 in 163.2 innings.
Signs with: Seattle Mariners
Contract: Three years, $43 million. Options can make deal as many as seven seasons for $109 million.
22. Andrew Miller (St. Louis Cardinals)
Position: RP Age: 35 2018 Salary: $9M
2018 Stats: 34 IP, 2-4, 4.24 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 0.4 WAR
Mitchell's take: After four seasons of straight up dominance, Miller hit the disabled list three times this season as he dealt with shoulder, knee, and hamstring troubles. The health issues led to a bloated 4.24 ERA in 34 innings for the big lefty. He’s still got closer stuff, but the injuries are a concern.
Signs with: St. Louis Cardinals
Contract: Two years, $25 million
23. Hyun-Jin Ryu (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Position: SP Age: 31 2018 Salary: $7.83M
2018 Stats: 82.1 IP, 7-3, 1.97 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 2.0 WAR
Mitchell's take: It’s a simple equation with this 31-year-old southpaw. When he’s healthy, he’s good. But he’s rarely healthy. Out of nowhere, Ryu emerged in 2018 to post a 1.97 ERA over 15 starts, but was still unable to get through a full season. A team could either strike it big or strike out with Ryu.
** Accepts one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer from Dodgers.
24. Adam Ottavino (New York Yankees)
Position: RP Age: 32 2018 Salary: $7M
2018 Stats: 77.2 IP, 6-4, 2.43 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 2.0 WAR
Mitchell's take: Ottavino had Tommy John surgery in 2015, and he’s been all over the map since returning. He was awful in 2017 with a 5.06 ERA and just as ugly peripherals, but he turned it around this past season, registering a 2.43 ERA that was, for the most part, supported by a 2.74 FIP. His ability to get both lefties and righties out is attractive at the back end of a bullpen.
Signs with: New York Yankees
Contract: Three years, $27 million
25. David Robertson (Philadelphia Phillies)
Position: RP Age: 33 2018 Salary: $13M
2018 Stats: 69.2 IP, 8-3, 3.23 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 1.5 WAR
Mitchell's take: After three-plus years of closing out games, Robertson settled into a setup role in his second stint with the Yankees. While he likely wants to close once again — Who wouldn’t? The money’s better — contenders looking to build a super bullpen will likely eye him for a setup role.
Signs with: Philadelphia Phillies
Contract: Two years, $23 million
26. Brian Dozier (Washington Nationals)
Position: 2B Age: 31 2018 Salary: $9M
2018 Stats: .215 BA, 21 HR, 72 RBI, .696 OPS, 0.8 WAR
Mitchell's take: Talk about a bad time to crater. After seasons of 6.2 and 5.0 WAR in 2016 and 2017, respectively, Dozier was worth just 0.8 WAR this season, and he’s dropped from 42 to 34 to 21 homers over the past three campaigns. Dozier is in the same boat as Josh Donaldson. Do you take the best multi-year deal this winter or bet on yourself?
Signs with: Washington Nationals
Contract: One year, $9 million
27. Wilson Ramos (New York Mets)
Position: C Age: 31 2018 Salary: $8.5M
2018 Stats: .306 BA, 15 HR, 70 RBI, .845 OPS, 2.4 WAR
Mitchell's take: While we’ve got them 13 spots apart, there are likely teams that will prefer Ramos to Yasmani Grandal based on price tag. There’s less consistency with Ramos and he’s dealt with injuries, but he slashed .306/.358/.487 with 15 homers and a 131 wRC+ this season. There could be a career year in store for the 31-year-old over the next couple of seasons if he stays healthy.
Signs with: New York Mets
Contract: Two years, $19 million
28. Adrian Beltre (Retired)
Position: 3B Age: 39 2018 Salary: $18M
2018 Stats: .273 BA, 15 HR, 65 RBI, .763 OPS, 1.2 WAR
Mitchell's take: Currently contemplating retirement, the ageless Beltre will still have suitors if he decides to continue his Hall-of-Fame career in 2019. He’s struggled with injuries the past two years and Father Time is clearly catching up, but he’s still an excellent defender and it wouldn’t be wise to bet against Beltre in his age-40 season, especially if a team can find him DH at-bats to help keep him fresh.
29. DJ LeMahieu (New York Yankees)
Position: 2B Age: 30 2018 Salary: $8.5M
2018 Stats: .276 BA, 15 HR, 62 RBI, .749 OPS, 2.0 WAR
Mitchell's take: A Gold Glove-calibre defender at the keystone, LeMahieu has been helped along offensively by Coors Field over the years. Over the past two years, he’s posted wRC+ marks under the league average threshold of 100, accumulating 3.9 WAR. There’s no shortage of veteran second base options available this winter.
Signs with: New York Yankees
Contract: Two years, $24 million
30. Kelvin Herrera (Chicago White Sox)
Position: RP Age: 28 2018 Salary: $7.93M
2018 Stats: 44.1 IP, 2-3, 2.44 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 0.4 WAR
Mitchell's take: A torn ligament in his left foot ended Herrera’s season in September, and the right-hander finished the year with a 2.44 ERA and 17 saves. Heading into his age-29 season, Herrera has been a bit of an enigma, but he’s managed to post an ERA of 2.75 or less in five of seven big league seasons. He could be a steal if he can duplicate is 2.0 WAR season from 2016 when he threw 72 innings.
Signs with: Chicago White Sox
Contract: Two years, $18 million
Free Agents 31-50
|Rank||Player/Pos||Age||'18 Salary||BA/IP||HR/ERA||RBI/WHIP||WAR||Signs With|
|32||Joe Kelly - RP||30||$3.825M||65.2||4.29||1.35||0.7||LAD|
|33||Wade Miley - SP||31||$2.5M||80.2||2.57||1.21||1.5||-|
|34||Cody Allen - RP||29||$10.575M||67.0||4.70||1.35||0.0||LAA|
|35||Asdrubal Cabrera - UTL||32||$8.25M||.262||23||75||2.7||-|
|36||Nick Markakis - OF||34||$11M||.297||14||93||2.6||-|
|37||Adam Jones - OF||33||$17.33||.281||15||63||0.5||-|
|38||Trevor Cahill - SP||30||$1.5M||110.0||3.76||1.19||2.0||LAA|
|39||Drew Pomeranz - SP||29||$8.5M||74.0||6.08||1.77||-0.3||-|
|40||Carlos Gonzalez - OF||30||$5M||.276||16||64||1.7||-|
|41||Matt Harvey - SP||29||$5.625M||155.0||4.94||1.30||1.5||LAA|
|42||Lance Lynn - SP||31||$12M||156.2||4.77||1.52||2.9||TEX|
|43||Jose Iglesias - SS||28||$6.275M||.269||5||48||2.5||-|
|44||Martin Maldonado - C||32||$3.9M||.225||9||44||0.9||-|
|45||Ian Kinsler - 2B||36||$11M||.240||14||48||2.3||SD|
|46||Jake Diekman - RP||31||$2.712M||53.1||4.73||1.50||0.5||-|
|47||Derek Holland - SP||32||$1.75M||171.1||3.57||1.29||2.0||SF|
|48||Tyson Ross - SP||31||$1.75M||149.2||4.15||1.29||1.0||DET|
|49||Garrett Richards - SP||30||$7.3M||76.1||3.66||1.28||1.0||SD|
|50||Kurt Suzuki - C||35||$3.5M||.271||12||50||2.0||WSH|
** FanGraphs WAR used throughout list.