The MLB off season is underway and free agency is the hot topic all around baseball. Today I will be continuing my six part series highlighting the top thirty free agents— five players in each part. Today, here are the 16th-20th best free agents, and my prediction for their landing spots. The ranking of free agents comes from Fangraphs.
Part 1: Players 26-30
Part 2: Players 21-25
20. Will Harris, RP, Age 35
2019 Statistics: 60.0 IP, 1.50 ERA, 3.15 FIP, 27.1 K%, 6.1 BB%, 0.93 WHIP, 1.1 WAR
Prediction: Houston Astros, 2 years, $10 million
Harris was one of the best relievers in baseball last season, posting an elite 1.50 ERA and 0.93 WHIP to go with a 54 GB%. He is now known as the pitcher who gave up the World Series winning home run to Howie Kendrick, but he was still very good in the regular season (and most of the playoffs).
I like the Astros to bring him back for at least one more season to shore up the bullpen behind Pressly and Osuna. After signing him to a 1 year, $4.2 million contract last off season I think it would be smart to bring him back for another year or two.
19. Dellin Betances, RP, Age 31
2019 Statistics: Only got two outs all season due to injury
Prediction: Mets, 1 year, $8 million
Betances is entering free agency after a wasted 2019, in which he saw basically no action. Before this season he was one of the most dominant relievers in baseball, posting an average K/9 of 16.5 and a 2.36 ERA with a 2.31 FIP. Whichever team lands him will likely be rewarded for doing so.
I have him betting on himself and taking a 1 year deal ro prove he is still an elite reliever and then hit the market again next season. The Mets are in need of bullpen help and they look like they are a fringe playoff team, so adding Betances should bring them closer to their goals.
18. Brett Gardner, OF, Age 36
2019 Statistics: 550 PA, .251/.325/.503 (.828), 28 HR, 74 RBIs, 9.5 BB%, 19.6 K%, 3.6 WAR
Prediction: New York Yankees, 1 year $9 million
Gardner is coming off a career year where he hit 28 home runs (previous high was 21) as a starting outfielder for the Yankees. With Didi Gregorious and Dellin Betances likely going elsewhere this off season, it is hard to envision the Yankees also letting Gardner walk. With no clear center fielder lined up for next season, I fully expect Gardner back in pinstripes next season.
Contract talks are currently stalled because the Yankees likely do not want to increase his salary from $7.5 million last season, but Gardner—and deservedly so—would like a couple million more.
17. Michael Pineda, SP, Age 30
2019 Statistics: 11-5, 4.01 ERA, 4.02 FIP, 23.3 K%, 4.7 BB%, 1.16 WHIP, 2.7 WAR
Prediction: Minnesota Twins, 1 year $12 million
My first prediction for a player to go to the Twins! Pineda was having an excellent season in Minnesota before his suspension abruptly ended his season and put a stain on the success. The 4.01 ERA is nothing too exciting, but from early June until early September, when he was suspended he was pitching extremely well. During that period he had a 2.96 ERA, .650 OPS against, and 3.21 FIP.
I think he will be returning to Minnesota on a one year deal to take up the fifth rotation spot. I expect the Twins will add two starters in the Zack Wheeler or Madison Bumgarner range, and that will leave one rotation spot open for Pineda to step in after his suspension concludes.
16. Cole Hamels, SP, Age 30
2019 Statistics: 7-7, 3.81 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 23.2 K%, 9.1 BB%, 1.39 WHIP, 2.5 WAR
Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies, 2 years $32 million
Hamels will be 36 years old on Opening Day, but he has still proven to be an effective pitcher on the back end of his career, and he even said he wants to play five more seasons. His success in Chicago lasted until about June this past season when he suffered an injury and had an ERA north of five for the rest of the year. Even so, he is still a solid pitcher.
A reunion with the Phillies makes a ton of sense. They will be in the market for at least two starters this off season, and Cole Hamels definitely fills one of those holes. They have both expressed their interest in a reunion so I would not be surprised to see it happen.
Do you have a different opinion on where some of these guys could go, or hope the Twins sign some of them? Leave a comment and discuss.
This was the third part of our Top 30 free agent prediction series. The next three parts will come out throughout the week.