With the offseason underway, here are the top MLB free agents at each position. Players will be removed from the list upon signing.
Grandal hits the open market again following a career season and without the burden of a qualifying offer, which likely caused his struggles in free agency a season ago. This catching group has several quality players who can fill in as a team’s primary backstop. The real wild card is d’Arnaud, who was excellent with the Tampa Bay Rays after failed stints with the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers.
First basemen no longer receive monster contracts the likes of Chris Davis’ seven-year, $161-million deal from 2016, and with good reason, as it’s arguably the most replaceable position on the diamond. Outside of Abreu, this year’s group lacks star power, though it does include Washington Nationals postseason hero Kendrick and some solid platoon players in Moreland and Thames.
There’s certainly a lot of options for teams looking for help at second base. Dozier, Kipnis, and Schoop were each top players at the position at one point in their respective careers, though all are now outside the top-10 second basemen in the league. Gennett is one of the more intriguing free agents this winter. He was limited to 42 games in 2019 due to injuries but was an All-Star in 2018 and is still just 29 years old.
Led by National League MVP candidate Rendon, third base offers some enormous talent. Donaldson proved he’s still an elite player – and healthy – by seeing the field for 155 games, his most since 2016. Meanwhile, Moustakas has averaged 34 homers and an .817 OPS over the last three seasons while also providing defensive flexibility by playing both second and third base.
Gregorius emerged as one of the league’s best two-way shortstops in 2017 and continued to grow in 2018, but he was up and down after returning from Tommy John surgery, which could limit his chances at a long-term offer. With many contenders set at the position, all signs point to Gregorius’ market being limited. Shortstop looks to be the weakest position on the free-agent market.
* – Played in Japan
There isn’t overwhelming star power in this group. There is, however, a lot of nice complementary players who can impact an offense. Castellanos and Ozuna come with defensive issues but both proved this season that they can carry a team when they’re hot. There’s no shortage of solid veterans who can help contenders fill out their roster.
Encarnacion is easily the best option for teams looking for a veteran DH. The 36-year-old has hit at least 30 homers in each of his last eight seasons and is coming off a year in which he slugged .531. Meanwhile, it’s not a guarantee that Ramirez, Trumbo, or Morales will receive major-league contracts.
The starting pitching class is led by a trio of heavyweights in Cole, Strasburg, and Ryu, who are all expected to finish in the top five in Cy Young voting for this past season. And after those three, Wheeler, Bumgarner, Keuchel, and Odorizzi also represent very solid rotation pieces. There are plenty of options for contending teams in search of quality starting pitching.
This might be one of the most underwhelming crops of free-agent relievers in history. Smith is coming off back-to-back solid seasons but will be attached to a qualifying offer. Harris and Hudson were both strong in the playoffs, though each is on the wrong side of 30. The two most intriguing names might be Betances and Pomeranz. Betances made just one appearance in 2019 due to injuries and is coming off a season-ending partial Achilles tear. Meanwhile, Pomeranz excelled after transitioning to a reliever, posting a 1.88 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings.