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 6th-10th 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
Part 3: Players 16-20
Part 4: Players 11-15
10. Nicholas Castellanos, OF, Age 27
2019 Statistics: 664 PA, .289/.337/.525 (.862), 27 HR, 73 RBIs, 6.2 BB%, 21.5 K%, 2.8 WAR
Prediction: Cincinnati Reds, 3 years $50 million
Castellanos is one of the best outfielders on the free agent market, despite his lack of fielding (-9 DRS, -4.4 UZR, -7 Outs Above Average). He will definitely get paid as such and there will be a lot of teams such—as the White Sox, Mets, Marlins and Reds—hoping to acquire him. His bat is the reason he will get paid, as he had a well above average OPS at .862 and wRC+ at 121.
The Reds will make upgrading their outfield a priority this off season, with a solid rotation already in place. They will target quite a few players and I expect them to land Castellanos. He fits alongside Nick Senzel and Aristides Aquino to form a solid outfield.
9. Didi Gregorius, SS, Age 29
2019 Statistics: 334 PA, .238/.276/.441 (.717), 16 HR, 61 RBIs, 4.9 BB%, 15.4 K%, 0.9 WAR
Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies, 3 years, $45 million
Gregorius is one of the best position players available, in large part due to his consecutive 4.0+ WAR and 25+ home run seasons in 2017 and 2018. This past season was a down year (except when he faced the Twins,) as he was coming off injury, but he is a great candidate for a bounce back season. There will be a few teams bidding on him including the Yankees, Reds and Phillies.
I think he will go to the Phillies and be a dangerous left handed bat like Harper, while also improving the shortstop defense over Jean Segura. The Phillies were one of the most disappointing teams in 2019 and they will certainly be making a push for the postseason again in 2020.
8. Zack Wheeler, SP, Age 29
2019 Statistics: 11-8, 3.96 ERA, 3.48 FIP, 23.6 K%, 6.0 BB%, 1.26 WHIP, 4.7 WAR
Prediction: Minnesota Twins, 5 years $105 million
Wheeler is coming off a 4.7 win season that ranked fifth among all starting pitchers. He is arguably the best starter not named Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg this off season and teams he will get paid as such. It seems like over half the league will be in on Wheeler, which could raise his price tag even more, but I don’t think there is any better fit than the Minnesota Twins.
The Twins are obviously in need of starting pitching with only Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi locked into the 2020 rotation, and they will need another pitcher or two of that caliber to contend for the World Series. I believe Wheeler will be the free agent they target due to his age, upside, current ability, and overall fit. This would be the largest contract in Twins history, but this may be the best time in their franchise history to sign that big contract.
7. Madison Bumgarner, SP, Age 30
2019 Statistics: 9-9, 3.90 ERA, 3.90 FIP, 24.1 K%, 5.1 BB%, 1.13 WHIP, 3.2 WAR
Prediction: Atlanta Braves, 4 years $76 million
The Giants legend appears to be moving on from San Francisco. After making his debut in 2009 and becoming one of the best pitchers of the decade, it is hard to believe he is still only 30 years old. His first real crack at free agency is here, and any team looking for a quality starting pitcher will definitely be checking in on Bumgarner.
I think the Braves will make a push and sign Bumgarner to be the missing piece that helps push them over the edge. The Braves appear to be so close, but they have been eliminated from the playoffs early in consecutive seasons. Bumgarner could lead a rotation currently occupied by Mike Soroka, Mike Foltynewicz, and Max Fried.
6. Yasmani Grandal, C, Age 31
2019 Statistics: 632 PA, .246/.380/.468 (.848), 28 HR, 77 RBI, 17.2 BB%, 22.0 K%, 5.2 WAR
Signed with: Chicago White Sox, 4 years $73 million
Sorry to end on a player who is already signed, but I’m saving the five best for my final post. As we all know, Grandal was the first signing in what many expect to be a very busy off season for the White Sox. He will slide into an already dangerous lineup with Yoan Moncada, Jose Abreu, Eloy Jimenez, and Tim Anderson. His ability not only comes on offense, but he was also one of the best defensive catchers in baseball last season and will help develop the young pitchers in Chicago.
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.