MLB free agency: Ranking the best remaining players
The MLB Hot Stove has been lukewarm at best this winter, as closer Liam Hendriks became just the second free agent to sign a multi-year contract when he inked a three-year, $54 million pact with the Chicago White Sox on Monday. It remains to be seen if this move will have a domino effect, or if MLB free agency will continue at a glacial pace. Let’s count down the five best free agents that are still available.
5. Marcell Ozuna
The market for Marcell Ozuna has understandably been quiet, with NL teams unsure whether or not the designated hitter rule will apply in 2021 after it was implemented during the COVID-19 shortened 2020 campaign.
Ozuna is not a plus defender in left field, but he wreaked havoc at the plate for the Atlanta Braves last year. The Dominican native led the NL in homers (18), RBI (56) and total bases (145) while suiting up for all 60 games.
If the DH rule is in effect across the board in 2021, expect Atlanta to make a serious push to retain Ozuna’s services.
4. DJ LeMahieu
The New York Yankees were extremely fortunate to have DJ LeMahieu at second base for just $12 million per season over the last two years. Now the three-time All-Star – who led all of baseball in batting average in 2020 (.364) – is looking to cash in, but the Bombers are being uncharacteristically frugal.
This has opened the door to speculation that LeMahieu could end up signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox, or the Braves.
3. George Springer
George Springer’s skillset should attract a litany of suitors, as he’s an above-average defender in center field with 30-home run power and a .270 career batting average. However, only the Mets and Blue Jays have expressed significant interest in Springer, with New York leading the bidding.
The Mets’ recent acquisition of Francisco Lindor has cast some doubt on their ability to sign Springer, as they’re running out of payroll flexibility. That could mean a very long winter for Springer, or a surprisingly-small deal for the former Astros All-Star.
2. J.T. Realmuto
Most MLB insiders had the Mets signing J.T. Realmuto to fill the void at catcher, but New York opted for former White Sox backstop James McCann on a four-year, $40.6 million deal.
Realmuto’s asking price, apparently more than $23.6 million a year over multiple seasons, has seemingly scared away all suitors save his former team, the Philadelphia Phillies. Unless he lowers his salary demands, Realmuto could be on the market for a very long time.
1. Trevor Bauer
Though he comes with his fair share of baggage, nearly half of the league has reportedly shown interest in signing 2020 NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer. The Reds attached a qualifying offer to Bauer, but he’s unlikely to re-sign with Cincinnati.
Bauer himself has been noncommittal on social media, but he’s reportedly had dialogues with “a number of teams” recently, and he knows exactly what he wants from the next organization he joins.
It would not be surprising if an “active” team – like the Dodgers, Padres or Mets – ultimately come away with Bauer.