Presented today is a look at this winter’s top 111 free agents. I’m excluding players whose options appear certain to be exercised, a group that includes Starling Marte, Brad Hand and Darren O’Day. I’m also excluding Giancarlo Stanton, J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos, all of whom figure to decline their opt-outs.
Players are ranked based on how I expect teams will view them, not on how I view them myself. Essentially, they’re listed from predicted biggest contract to smallest, using my own patented adjustments for multiyear deals.
All ages are as of April 1, 2021
1. Trevor Bauer (30, SP, Reds): He might get a Cy Young Award for an 11-start run against weak competition last season, but Bauer’s track record is checkered. While he had a 1.73 ERA in 11 starts in 2020 and a 2.21 ERA in 27 starts in 2018, his ERAs in his other five seasons have ranged from 4.18 to 4.55. What transpired in 2020 seemed like legitimate improvement, buoyed by a big increase in his spin rate. Bauer previously railed against pitchers who used foreign substances to improve their spin rates, but he’s been quiet on the subject of late. The team that signs him to a big contract will want to be sure those high spin rates stick around. He’s the one player with a shot of landing a $30 million-per-year contract this winter, though probably not for anywhere near the length of Stephen Strasburg’s deal (seven years, $245 million) last year.
2. George Springer (31, OF, Astros): Springer would have been a free agent last winter if the Astros hadn’t gamed his service time. That move likely cost him tens of millions of dollars, considering how much stronger last winter’s market than this one will be (also, Springer was a year younger and coming off a slightly better season). Springer will still be very much in demand, but with the qualifying offer further cutting into his market, perhaps he’ll take a one-year deal and try his luck again next winter. Hopefully it won’t come to that; Springer’s 147 OPS+ is 10th best among all major leaguers with 500 plate appearances the last two years and he remains an above average defensive center fielder.
3. J.T. Realmuto (30, C, Phillies): Realmuto is the total package behind the plate; he’s one of the game’s top catchers offensively and defensively, he’s been extraordinarily consistent in recent years and he’s never suffered a major injury. It’s really just a matter of how much teams think they should invest in a 30-year-old catcher. In spite of his position, he’s the favorite to get the longest contract of any free agent this winter, assuming that Bauer won’t sacrifice much in the way of annual salary to add years on to his deal.
4. DJ LeMahieu (32, 2B, Yankees): LeMahieu turned in an incredible 50-game run last season, leading the AL in average, OBP and OPS, yet his Statcast numbers were generally better in 2019. Particularly odd was that he had just five barrels (yet still hit 10 homers). He had 39 barrels and 26 homers in 2019 and 24 barrels and 15 homers for the Rockies in 2018. Having the highest groundball rate of his career certainly worked out for him, but it doesn’t seem like the way to proceed going forward. LeMahieu’s defense has also declined some. It could be worth it for the Yankees or another team to go big on another two-year contract, but at the salary he’ll command, anything longer would seem to be a mistake.
5. Marcell Ozuna (30, OF, Braves): Ozuna bet on himself as a free agent a year ago, and it should pay off handsomely after a season in which he led the NL in homers and RBI. Of course, Ozuna’s 175 OPS+ in 2020 crushes anything he did previously, but he was also excellent in 2017 (149 OPS+) and his Statcast numbers suggested there was a lot of bad luck involved in his down 2019 season. He’s a good bet to keep hitting the next three years, and he’s not as bad in left field as the occasional hideous misplay suggests. His market, though, would be greatly improved if the NL keeps the DH.
6. Masahiro Tanaka (32, SP, Yankees): Tanaka was brought along slowly last season after suffering a concussion during summer camp, but he finished up well, which is why it was very surprising to see him struggle in the postseason for the first time; he had a 1.76 ERA in eight career postseason starts before giving up 11 runs in eight innings against the Indians and Rays this time around. Tanaka has gone five straight years without missing significant time, and his velocity is at least as good now as it was when he arrived in MLB in 2014. He might be one of the best values out there in free agency this winter.
7. Marcus Stroman (29, SP, Mets): Stroman suffered a tear in his calf muscle in July and later opted out of the season in August, so he’ll enter free agency with no one having seen him in over a year. Stroman was quite good in 2019 (3.22 ERA in 184 IP), and his peripherals have held steady throughout his career, even if his ERAs haven’t. Put him on a team with a strong infield defense and he’s at least a No. 3 starter and probably a No. 2.
8. Justin Turner (36, 3B, Dodgers): Turner’s 132 OPS+ the last two years doesn’t quite measure up to the 150 OPS+ he put up in 2017-18, but it’s still pretty terrific. The tough call here is whether he should still be looked at as a third baseman; he’s below average defensively now, but not to the point at which he’s much of a liability. What also factors in is that he’d probably have a better chance of staying healthy as a first baseman or DH. Ideally, the team that signs him will have some flexibility there.
9. Liam Hendriks (32, RP, Athletics): The AL’s Reliever of the Year in 2020, Hendriks has a 1.79 ERA and a 161/24 K/BB ratio in 110 1/3 innings over the last two seasons. He is a big-time flyball pitcher, which might not play well in a smaller ballpark, but he’s striking out so many batters that it really hasn’t been an issue lately. In spite of his age and former journeyman status, he’s in line for a three-year deal this winter, and all of the clubs with money to spend on their bullpens should be after him.
10. Michael Brantley (33, OF, Astros): Brantley is the steadiest bat on the market; he’s posted OPS+s of 124, 126 and 126 while hitting .300 each of the last three seasons. He’s also still a perfectly fine left fielder, though he’ll have a better chance of staying healthy while splitting time between the field and the DH spot. Brantley got a two-year, $32 million deal last time he was a free agent, and he’d seem to be worthy of a similar deal this time around.
11. Didi Gregorius (31, SS, Phillies): After struggling offensively and defensively in his return from Tommy John surgery in 2019, Gregorius was pretty well back to normal in Philadelphia. Offensively, he was actually better than usual, hitting .284/.339/.488 for a 119 OPS+ that was the second best mark of his career. On defense, Gregorius rates as average these days and is likely to steadily decline in his 30s. Given that there’s a fairly strong shortstop market this winter and a stronger one led by Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager and Carlos Correa waiting next year, another one-year contract would make sense here.
12. Nelson Cruz (40, DH, Twins): Age will eventually catch up to Cruz, but when? He just posted a 169 OPS+ that was the best mark of his career, topping his 168 from 2019. In truth, Cruz was considerably better than 169, since that’s comparing him to the AL rather than the weak-hitting Central league that he played in last season. Cruz wants a two-year deal and will surely get one, though the amount would due to be larger if the NL adopts the DH. As is, there’s maybe a half-dozen AL teams that will consider him.
13. Charlie Morton (37, SP, Rays): Morton showed up without his fastball last summer, but he got it back as the season went along and resumed resembling the pitcher who went 45-16 with a 3.24 ERA from 2017-19. The Rays have the option of bringing him back for $15 million and probably should do that, though with their budget limitations, it’s no given that they will. Morton has flirted with retirement in the past and could choose to call it a career this winter, but there will be plenty of demand for his services if he wants to keep it going, particularly since he might only want a one-year deal.
14. Andrelton Simmons (31, SS, Angels): Simmons suffered a sprained ankle in the fourth game of last season and wasn’t quite himself defensively after returning in late August. On the plus side, he did hit better after a disappointing 2019 in that regard, coming in at .297/.346/.356 in 30 games. He’s going to be a fascinating case this winter. Simmons is the player that sportswriters wish Omar Vizquel was; he’s perhaps the best defensive shortstop since Ozzie Smith and he’s posted a 98 OPS+ the last four years. He deserves a multiyear commitment, but given the current market and next year’s stud-laden shortstop class, he might have to settle for one year.
15. Marcus Semien (30, SS, Athletics): Semien followed his career year in 2019, when he finished third in the AL MVP balloting, by hitting just .223/.305/.374 last season. However, he was really good in seven postseason games, and if one added those to the mix, his overall line would improve to .244/.326/.458. Semien’s defensive numbers also tumbled last season, perhaps in part because of a side issue he dealt with in September. He should be a solid enough shortstop for at least two more years, but he could be a tough sell on a multiyear deal in this market. The A’s would surely love to keep him if no one else makes a big play.
16. Zack Britton (33, RP, Yankees): Britton’s three-year, $39 million contract with the Yankees has an odd clause; the Bombers have to pick up or decline his $14 million option for 2022 within the next week. If it’s declined, then Britton can opt to become a free agent now or simply play out the string and make $13 million next year. In a normal offseason, it’d be an easy call for Britton to opt out; he’s posted sub-2.00 ERAs the last two years and would have no problem getting another multiyear deal in free agency. In a depressed market, though, he might be better off taking his $13 million than settling for a lesser salary in a two- or three-year pact.
17. Jake Odorizzi (31, SP, Twins): Knowing it would weigh him down in free agency, Odorizzi accepted the qualifying offer from the Twins last winter. It looks like a bad call now after Odorizzi served three stints on the IL. He suffered a strained intercostal muscle in summer camp, a chest contusion when he was hit by a liner in his third start back in August and a finger blister in his return outing in September. The good news is that none of those injuries figure to linger and that he looked just fine in the 13 2/3 innings that he was able to pitch. Also, he had made at least 28 starts in six straight seasons prior to 2020. He’s about as good of a bet for the future as he was last winter, so he could be a bit of a bargain now.
18. James Paxton (32, SP, Yankees): Durability has always been a big issue for Paxton, but he had been increasingly healthy in recent years, making 20 starts in 2016, 24 in 2017, 28 in 2018 and 29 in 2019. Last season was a major setback in that regard; he required back surgery in February and then hurt his elbow in August. The diagnosis then was a flexor strain, and he might have been able to return had the season lasted for another month. He’s still plenty talented, and even though it feels like he’s never pitched to his potential, his career 114 ERA+ puts him on level with Bauer (113) and Tanaka (114). There’s the possibility a team could strike gold here.
19. Alex Colome (32, RP, White Sox): Colome’s strikeouts are down as he focuses more and more on his cutter, but he had a 0.81 ERA last season and a 2.80 ERA in 2019. He’s also been plenty durable. Everyone wants swings and misses from their closers, but weak contact is still going to get the job done most of the time. A two-year deal seems likely, and one imagines the White Sox will make a strong effort to keep him.
20. Ha-Seong Kim (25, SS-3B, Korea): Kim is looking to jump to MLB this winter, and the Kiwoom Heroes have agreed to post him. A regular in Korea since age 19, Kim has never had worse than an .830 OPS in six seasons. He’s at .309/.401/.529 this year, and he’s tied for sixth in the league with his 30 homers (his .931 OPS is 11th best). Kim has mostly played shortstop in Korea, but he’s also seen significant time at third base the last two years. The hot corner might be his best bet in MLB, particularly since that position is short of free agent options at the moment.
21. Trevor Rosenthal (30, RP, Padres): Rosenthal took a minor league deal last winter after posting a 13.50 ERA over 22 appearances in his first year back from Tommy John surgery in 2019. This winter, he’s in line for a sizeable two- or three-year deal after finishing up with a 1.90 ERA, 11 saves and a 41.8% strikeout rate for the Royals and Padres. He still seems riskier than the other top relievers on the board -- 2019 wasn’t the first time he really had no idea where the ball was going when it left his hand -- but his ability to dominate for long stretches when he’s on will ensure that he has several suitors.
22. Kevin Gausman (30, SP, Giants): It was just 10 starts, but there’s a lot to like about what Gausman did last season, from the 32.2% strikeout rate to the improved velocity (he averaged 95 mph with his fastball) to the 3.62 ERA against an awfully difficult schedule. Gausman has made a habit of disappointing when expectations are placed on him, which they will be if someone pays for his 2020 stats this winter. Really, though, the improvement in his numbers suggests a breakout is possible.
23. Joc Pederson (28, OF, Dodgers): Pederson picked a dreadful time to slump, coming in with an 84 OPS+ in 43 games after finishing in the 120s three of the previous four years. The Dodgers, with all of their options, strictly platooned him in recent years, something that will further cut into his value here. Pederson, though, has an excellent record against righties and is one of the youngest free agents available (he turns 29 in April). He should be fine defensively in left field for a few more years, making him a smart pickup for a contender in need of pop.
24. Taijuan Walker (28, SP, Blue Jays): Who wants to bet on the youngest starter available in free agency? The 60-game season was perfect for Walker, who wasn’t going to be any sort of threat to throw 180 innings after missing almost two entire seasons following Tommy John surgery. He ended up making 11 starts with a 2.70 ERA, though his peripherals didn’t measure up; with a 50/19 K/BB ratio and eight homers allowed in 53 innings, his FIP came in at 4.56. Walker was labeled an underachiever in his younger days, but his career 108 ERA+ is far from bad. He’ll likely get multiyear offers, but he could bet on himself with a one-year deal in the hopes of a stronger market next winter.
25. Kolten Wong (30, 2B, Cardinals): The Cardinals hold a $12.5 million option on Wong for 2021, and while Wong certainly has a case for being worth the money, it’s a pretty steep price to pay for a second baseman in the current market. It’s quite possible the two sides will tear that up and come to terms on a new deal that will keep Wong in St. Louis through 2022 or 2023. If not, Wong could become the No. 2 second baseman available in free agency; he’s one of the best in the business defensively and he has a nice 103 OPS+ over the last four seasons.
26. James McCann (30, C, White Sox): McCann did his best to demonstrate that his 2019 breakout was no fluke by hitting .289/.360/.536 in 111 plate appearances last season. Defensively, he’s always had an excellent reputation, though that often hasn’t taken pitch framing into account; Statcast had him as the game’s worst pitch framer in 2019, yet he was above average in his limited sample last season. He’s strong otherwise, so if he’s truly improved his pitch framing, he should be a quality starter for some team for a couple of years.
27. Jose Quintana (32, SP, Cubs): Quintana had a four-year run as one of the AL’s top pitchers with the White Sox at the beginning of his career, but he was just never that same caliber during his Cubs tenure, which he finished up with a 4.24 ERA and a 101 ERA+ in 440 innings. It also won’t help his cause that he was limited to 10 innings last season by thumb and lat injuries. His velocity hasn’t changed much through the years and it’s possible another pitching coach will be able to get more out of him, but he’s probably looking at a one-year deal.
28. Adam Eaton (32, OF, Nationals): Eaton has often been a slow starter in his career, so one shouldn’t pay too much attention to his poor .226/.285/.384 line in 41 games last season. Still, he’s probably a player in decline as he enters his age 32 season -- he certainly is defensively -- and his $10.5 million option for 2021 doesn’t seem like a slam dunk. The Nationals would have to pay $1.5 million to buy it out, so it’s really a $9 million decision for the team. Even in a depressed market, he’s likely worth it, but it’s not an easy call.
29. Cesar Hernandez (30, 2B, Indians): With his OBPs trending downwards, Hernandez took a paycut last winter, settling for $6.25 million from the Indians. A bounce-back showing in which he hit .283/.355/.408 and led the AL with 20 doubles could earn him a raise this time around, even though teams generally don’t like paying for second basemen. He might even get a two-year deal, though that might be asking for too much.
30. Kirby Yates (34, RP, Padres): After two incredibly dominant seasons for the Padres, Yates was limited to just six appearances (most of them bad) by bone chips in his elbow last season. He should be ready to go next spring after surgery and there will be plenty of interest in him on one-year deals, but at age 34, he might have a difficult time landing a multiyear deal after the lost season.
31. Drew Smyly (31, SP, Giants): It was just five starts (and two relief appearances), but Smyly was suddenly throwing 93 mph last season and rode the velocity increase to a ridiculous 37.8% strikeout rate. Whether he can keep it up is anyone’s guess, but a bunch of teams will be interested in seeing if it’s sustainable.
32. Jurickson Profar (28, INF-OF, Padres): Profar finished strong for the Padres and came in at .278/.343/.428 for the year, a nice improvement over his .218/.301/.410 line from 2019. Profar’s youth will certainly aid his case in free agency. He can also sell himself as being versatile, but he’s been a liability in the infield in recent years. On the plus side, he was pretty good in left field for the Padres. A modest two- or three-year contract is possible here, though a one-year deal would seem to be the way to go if he believes in himself.
33. Anthony DeSclafani (30, SP, Reds): DeSclafini didn’t show much of anything in seven starts after returning from a pectoral strain last season, but he still might have some untapped upside with his velocity having increased the last couple of years. A flyball pitcher, he’s been held back by pitching in Great American; he’s posted a 4.94 ERA at home and a 3.61 ERA on the road during his career. It’s also still quite possible he could turn into an excellent reliever if needed.
34. Carlos Santana (34, 1B, Indians): Like his .281 average in 2019, Santana’s .199 average last season was an aberration, just in the other direction. He’s hit .248 in his career and he’ll be a reasonable bet to finish in the .230-.240 range next year. With his power and exceptional walk rate, that’s enough to make him at least an average regular. The Indians will buy out his $17.5 million option for 2021, but they’ll work to bring him back at a lesser price.
35. Yadier Molina (38, C, Cardinals): With his three-year, $60 million extension having expired, Molina is set to become a free agent for the first time at age 38. The Cardinals would certainly prefer to keep him, but they’re facing quite a budget crunch, and it will be interesting to see if other teams try to lure him away. Molina has kept the batting average steady in recent years, but his power numbers have fallen off. His defensive numbers aren’t quite what they were, though he still intimidates would-be basestealers into staying put. He’s not done as a starter yet.
36. Yasiel Puig (30, OF, FA): Puig found no takers on a big multiyear deal last winter, and after he opted to sign with the Braves in July, his deal wound up getting shelved because he tested positive for COVID-19. The full year off would seem to ensure that he’ll have to take a one-year deal now. He’s still just 30, and while his ceiling is gone, he’s never not been useful when healthy.
37. J.A. Happ (38, SP, Yankees): The Yankees arranged Happ’s schedule to prevent his $17 million option from vesting, but he didn’t let it bother him and still finished up with a strong 3.47 ERA in nine starts. Including his final four years in Toronto, Happ has posted sub-4.00 ERAs five of the last six years. He might not be a good bet to do that again at age 38, but as a one-year stopgap, he’s plenty useful.
38. Jackie Bradley Jr. (30, OF, Red Sox): Bradley hit .326/.423/.562 during September to finish 2020 was his best OPS since 2016. He was a below average hitter the previous three years and his defensive numbers in recent years have paled in comparison to those he put up early in his career, but he’s a solid regular on the whole. There’s a decent chance the Red Sox will wind up bringing him back at a reduced salary.
39. Corey Kluber (34, SP, Rangers): While there’s the chance Texas could bid to re-sign him after declining his $17.5 million option, it’s likely that Kluber’s Rangers career will end up consisting of one scoreless inning. He suffered a season-ending shoulder strain in his initial outing of last season, and he was limited to seven starts in 2019 by a fractured right arm suffered on a liner and then a strained oblique he sustained while rehabbing. Kluber was, of course, one of the game’s very best pitchers for five years prior to 2019, winning two Cy Youngs and finishing third in the balloting twice. He turns 35 in April, so no one is expecting him to bounce all of the way back. Hopefully he has something left, though.
40. Garrett Richards (32, SP, Padres): Richards didn’t perform as hoped in his return from Tommy John surgery, but he stayed healthy and still posted a solid 4.03 ERA. What was disappointing was that his strikeout rate came in at a modest 21.6%, and he was a flyball pitcher after spending most of his career with an excellent groundball rate. Maybe things will be better in year two, though given that he hasn’t put in a full season since 2015, 30 starts will probably be too much to ask for.
41. Trevor May (31, RP, Twins): May killed it in the strike zone department last season, fanning 39.6% of the batters he faced. Still, homers doomed him to a middling 3.86 ERA. May has always been a flyball pitcher, but he took it to a new extreme last season, finishing with a 25.5% groundball rate. May’s velocity has steadily increased since he returned from Tommy John surgery in 2018, and while he’s not young at age 31, it’s possible his best days are still to come. A big ballpark would help.
42. Jonathan Schoop (29, 2B, Tigers): It’d be nice if he walked more than once a week, but Schoop offers plenty of power, a decent batting average and fine defense at second base. He hit .278/.324/.475 in 44 games for the Tigers last season after coming in at .256/.304/.473 for the Twins in 2019.
43. Blake Treinen (32, RP, Dodgers): Treinen’s 2020 didn’t seem him regain his strikeout rate from his historic 2018 season, but he did get the walks back under control and induce a ton of grounders. He was still pretty shaky in September and October anyway, but on the whole, it was encouraging enough to make him a candidate for a two-year deal this winter.
44. Tommy La Stella (32, INF, Athletics): La Stella backed up his 80-game breakthrough in 2019 by hitting .281/.370/.449 in 55 games for the Angels and A’s last season. His defense at second base is below average, but he’s still likely more valuable there than he would be at first.
45. Enrique Hernandez (29, INF-OF, Dodgers): Hernandez is a fantastic defender and a quality bat against lefties (.263/.345/.474 in his career), making him a great fit for any number of contenders. It’d be easy to imagine him getting a three-year deal in the $20 million range if this were a normal offseason. Since it isn’t and he’s much better cast as a complementary player than as a regular, one imagines he’ll feel the squeeze.
46. Cole Hamels (37, SP, Braves): Hamels’ shoulder became a problem late in the 2019 season, and he wasn’t able to overcome a couple of setbacks last season, when he ended up making just one start for the Braves. Hamels was excellent before the shoulder issues in 2019, and his stuff has declined only a tad with age. He’s not to be written off just yet.
47. Adam Wainwright (39, SP, Cardinals): Wainwright improved on his surprising 2019 (14-11, 4.19 ERA) by finishing up with a 3.15 ERA in 10 starts last season. The light schedule surely helped some there, though. Wainwright finished with his lowest groundball rate ever, and he didn’t do any better in the strikeout department than usual. His .247 BABIP was about nearly 80 points lower than his mark from 2016-19. It’s unlikely that things will go so smoothly again next year.
48. Mark Melancon (36, RP, Braves): Melancon is obviously quite a bit more vulnerable these days than he was in his prime -- he has a 1.40 WHIP over the last four years, compared to an exceptional 0.91 mark from 2013-16 -- but he’s been getting the job done anyway. In 2020, he had a 2.78 ERA and was 11-for-13 saving games (and the Braves still won both of his blown saves anyway). He’ll get a one-year deal to close for some team, and a return to Atlanta seems quite possible.
49. Shane Greene (32, RP, Braves): Greene’s velocity and strikeout rate fell last season, but he was plenty effective again, finishing with a 2.60 ERA in 27 2/3 innings for the Braves. His cutter produces soft contact, which has allowed him to beat his peripherals three of the last four years. He’s been durable, too, so there’s a decent chance he’ll get a two-year deal.
50. C.J. Cron (31, 1B, Tigers): A dislocated kneecap ended Cron’s 2020 after just 13 games, but not before he hit four homers in 52 plate appearances. With a 114 OPS+ over the last three seasons, he’s a fine one-year option at first base.
51. Pedro Baez (33, RP, Dodgers): Because he spent a lot of time as a third baseman in the minors before arriving in the majors, Baez’s first experience as a free agent comes ahead of what will be his age-33 season. His fastball last season was down nearly three mph from 2017, and even if that was partly a product of the layoff, he was still already down 1.5 mph in 2019. It doesn’t seem to bode well for his future. It’s too bad, because he deserves a real payoff after producing a 3.03 ERA for the Dodgers over the last 6 ½ seasons and never making more than $2.1 million in a season.
52. Ken Giles (30, RP, Blue Jays): Giles underwent Tommy John surgery on Sept. 30, so it’s doubtful that he’ll attempt to return before the end of next year. Typically, a pitcher like him would get a backloaded two-year deal as a free agent. In this market, though, Giles could just opt to rehab on his own and wait to sign with a team after next season.
53. Marwin Gonzalez (32, INF, Twins): Gonzalez was an awfully valuable player while producing league-average offense and playing seven positions. The question going forward is whether the offense is really going to be there; he hit just .211/.286/.320 in 199 PA last season. Since his remarkable 2017, when he came in at 146, his OPS+s have dropped to 101 in 2018, 94 in 2019 and 68 in 2020. He figures to bounce back some, but it’d best if he were signed for a utility role, not an everyday gig.
54. Jon Lester (37, SP, Cubs): Lester’s fastball was down one mph last season, and he’s lost a total of three mph over the last four years. It took a very heavy toll on his strikeout rate, as he fanned just 15.8% of the batters he faced while posting a 5.16 ERA in 2020. Lester didn’t do a whole lot of throwing during the shutdown, and one could hope that a normal windup in 2021 could lead to a bit more arm strength. That’s very optimistic, though.
55. Wilson Ramos (33, C, Mets): Ramos’s defensive reputation is in tatters. He also didn’t hit much last season, finishing at .239/.297/.387 in 155 plate appearances, so he’ll probably be lacking in suitors this winter. Getting out of New York will help, and it’s pretty much a given that the Mets will decline his $10 million team option.
56. Jonathan Villar (29, INF-OF, Blue Jays): Villar followed up his four-WAR season for the Orioles in 2019 by frustrating both the Marlins and Blue Jays with his defense and overly aggressive baserunning. Of course, he also didn’t hit, coming in at just .232/.301/.292 in 207 plate appearances. Villar has been all over the place offensively the last five years, finishing with OPS+s of 117, 72, 92, 109 and 64. At 29, it’s certainly possible he has another 2019-type campaign in him, and his inconsistency could lead to him being a cheap pickup for a fringe contender.
57. Robbie Grossman (31, OF, Athletics): As a bad defensive corner outfielder with limited power during his time with the Astros and Twins, Grossman didn’t seem all that likely to still be in the league at 30. However, he turned in the best season of his career at that age in 2020, hitting .241/.344/.482. He’s also made himself into a quality left fielder. It’s probably not going to lead to a multiyear deal, but there will be a fair amount of interest in him on a one-year pact.
58. Jason Castro (33, C, Padres): The Padres did Castro no favors by acquiring him from the Angels and then acquiring Austin Nola to play over him. Castro had just 30 plate appearances after the deal and 92 plate appearances on the season, in which he hit .188/.293/.375. Castro still has a sterling defensive reputation, and though batting average is a big problem offensively, he does offer some pop and a strong walk rate. He could serve as a decent starter for at least one more year.
59. Kevin Pillar (32, OF, Rockies): Pillar hit .275/.325/.470 in 30 games for Boston and .308/.351/.451 in 24 games for the Rockies, giving him a .798 OPS that was 97 points better than career mark. He lacks range in center these days, but he catches everything he gets to and he’s above average in a corner. Contenders will look at him as a potential fourth outfielder, but the Rockies or another team might want him as a starter.
60. Mike Minor (33, SP, Athletics): One of the AL’s best pitchers in 2019, Minor lost two mph off his fastball and finished with a 5.56 ERA last season. He’s bounced back before and it’s possible a normal offseason could help him throw harder next year, but he might have to take an incentive-laden deal.
61. Brett Gardner (37, OF, Yankees): Gardner’s big finish yielded a .747 OPS for the season, which is pretty good considering that he bottomed out at .165/.293/.299 on Sept. 9. The Yankees can keep him for $10 million or buy out his option for $2.5 million. Most likely, they’ll go the latter route and re-sign him at a lesser salary.
62. Robbie Ray (29, SP, Blue Jays): With 31 in 31 innings, Ray led the NL in walks last season, which is really quite impressive for someone who was traded to the AL at the deadline. It wasn’t just the walks, either, as he gave up 13 homers in 51 2/3 innings for the season. He pitched better for Toronto (.4.79 ERA, 14 BB in 20 2/3 IP) than he did for Arizona (7.84 ERA), but he still completed five innings just once for his new team. Perhaps something can be fixed, but it doesn’t seem likely that anyone will make a big bet on him this winter.
63. Mike Zunino (30, C, Rays): Zunino probably helped himself in the postseason, even though he finished 8-for-52 with four homers and a 27/1 K/BB ratio. He’ll get some credit for a pretty good run of pitching by the Rays and deservedly so, but the bat has been brutal since Seattle sent him packing.
64. Shin-Soo Choo (38, OF, Rangers): Choo’s future could hinge on the NL adopting the DH in 2021. His bat figures to remain reliable enough at age 38, but his lack of upside could keep an AL contender from committing to him. He can still play the outfield on a part-time basis, but it’s tough sledding for him out there these days and playing the field only make it more likely that he’ll get hurt.
65. Jake Arrieta (35, SP, Phillies): Arrieta’s ERA has increased and his strikeout rate has decreased every year since his Cy Young campaign in 2015. Teams will value his experience, but he’s a fifth starter these days.
66. Roberto Perez (32, C, Indians): One of 2019’s biggest surprises went back to being one of the game’s easiest outs last season, as Perez hit just .165/.264/.216 in 110 plate appearances. The Indians have a $5.5 million option on his services next year, but it’s highly unlikely he’d get that much on the open market. Ideally, the Indians would bring him back on a cheap two-year deal and find someone better than Sandy Leon to share time with him.
67. Freddy Galvis (31, SS, Reds): Low ceiling but awfully reliable. 90 OPS+ last three yrs.
68. Mike Leake (33, SP, Diamondbacks): Opted out of 2020. In decline, but 30 GS every year from 2012-19.
69. Greg Holland (35, RP, Royals): Seemed nearly done a year ago. Rebounded with 1.91 ERA, 31/7 K/BB in 28 IP.
70. Yusmeiro Petit (36, RP, Athletics): Workhorse righty had 1.66 ERA in 2020, 2.71 ERA in 2019.
71. Brett Anderson (33, SP, Brewers): No big injuries of late. 3.96 ERA in 41 starts last two years.
72. David Robertson (35, RP, Phillies): Hopefully all the way back after Tommy John. 2.90 career ERA.
73. Mike Fiers (35, SP, Athletics): Cratering K rate caught up with him in 2020. 4.58 ERA, 37 K in 59 IP.
74. Jake McGee (34, RP, Dodgers): 2.66 ERA, 33/3 K/BB in 20 IP before October disappearance.
75. Martin Perez (29, SP, Red Sox): 4.50 ERA in 62 IP. Red Sox likely to decline $6.25MM option.
76. Justin Wilson (33, RP, Mets): Always too many walks, but tough on lefties. 3.18 ERA last 3 yrs.
77. Keone Kela (27, RP, Pirates): Forearm limited him to 2 IP in 2020. 3.24 career ERA.
78. Joakim Soria (36, RP, Athletics): 2.82 ERA in 2020. 3.61 ERA, 3.05 FIP last 3 yrs.
79. Jedd Gyorko (32, INF, Brewers): $4.5MM team option. Bounced back with .838 OPS in 2020.
80. Jeremy Jeffress (33, RP, Cubs): 1.54 ERA, 8 Sv in 2020, but also 4.09 FIP, 17/12 K/BB in 23 IP.
81. Brandon Workman (32, RP, Phillies): Collapsed after incredible 2019. 6.92 ERA after move to Philly.
82. Howie Kendrick (37, 2B, Nationals): Teams will want his bat, but could retire anyway.
83. Matt Shoemaker (34, SP, Blue Jays): Oft-injured righty showed best velocity of his career in 2020.
84. Jake Marisnick (30, OF, Mets): Ability to play center, hit lefties makes for great bench piece.
85. Mitch Moreland (35, 1B, Padres): 1.177 OPS w/BOS, .609 OPS w/SD. Padres hold $3MM team option.
86. Rick Porcello (32, SP, Mets): Peripherals were fine, but 5.64 ERA for Mets. Needs a great defense.
87. Chris Archer (32, SP, Pirates): Faces tough road back after surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.
88. Ryan Braun (37, OF, Brewers): 101 OPS+ in 2020, 110 since 2018. Can’t stay healthy & needs NL DH.
89. Rich Hill (41, SP, Twins): Velocity was down, but still had a 3.03 ERA in 8 starts for Twins.
90. Julio Teheran (30, SP, Angels): Former Braves ace had 10.05 ERA after summer COVID-19 diagnosis.
91. Asdrubal Cabrera (35, INF, Nationals): .753 OPS in 213 PA. Should be a reserve going forward.
92. Sergio Romo (38, RP, Twins): Never higher than a 4.14 ERA in 13 big-league seasons.
93. Edwin Encarnacion (38, DH, White Sox): The end if nigh. .157 AVG, 30% K rate in 2020.
94. Kurt Suzuki (37, C, Nationals): Needs to be paired with a strong defender, but 105 OPS+ last 3 yrs.
95. Chase Anderson (33, SP, Blue Jays): 4.06 career ERA, but ineffective post-oblique strain in 2020.
96. Leury Garcia (30, INF-OF, White Sox): Utilityman has .690 OPS last 3 yrs. $3.5MM team option.
97. David Phelps (34, RP, Phillies): 7 HR produced a 6.53 ERA in 2020, but 36.5% K rate was superb.
98. Tyler Flowers (35, C, Braves): .673 OPS. Pitch-framing ability will keep him around as part-timer.
99. Aaron Loup (33, RP, Rays): Rebound campaign produced a 2.52 ERA, 22/4 K/BB in 25 IP.
100. Sean Doolittle (34, RP, Nationals): Never found his arm strength in 2020, making him a big question mark.
101. Tyler Chatwood (30, SP, Cubs): Stuff looked better last season, but injuries limited him to 19 IP.
102. Brad Miller (31, INF, Cardinals): Faded down stretch but still .808 OPS for Cards. .894 in 170 PA in 2019.
103. Robinson Chirinos (36, C, Mets): .790 OPS in 2019. .475 in 82 PA last season.
104. Aaron Sanchez (28, SP, FA): Missed 2020 after shoulder surgery. Could be interesting in bullpen.
105. Yoenis Cespedes (35, OF, Mets): Eight games in two years. There’s just no telling what he has left.
106. Josh Reddick (34, OF, Astros): .718 OPS last two years. Defense also in obvious decline.
107. Tony Watson (35, RP, Giants): 2.50 ERA but also sharp velocity drop in 2020 for long-time setup stud.
108. Anibal Sanchez (37, SP, Nationals): Velocity and K rate dwindling. 6.62 ERA in 2020.
109. Todd Frazier (35, 1B-3B, Mets): Little upside left at age 35, but capable stopgap at third.
110. Jose Alvarez (31, RP, Phillies): 2.95 ERA last 3 years. Missed most of 2020 with groin injury.
111. Alex Wood (30, SP, Dodgers): 2017 All-Star has 5.96 ERA in 48 IP last two years.