The MLB off season is underway and free agency is the hot topic all around baseball. Today I will be wrapping up my six part series highlighting the top thirty free agents— five players in each part. Today, here are the five 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
Part 5: Players 6-10
5. Marcell Ozuna, OF, Age 29
2019 Statistics: 549 PA, .243/.330/.474 (.804), 29 HR, 89 RBI, 11.3 BB%, 20.8 K%, 2.6 WAR
Prediction: Atlanta Braves, 4 years $60 million
Ozuna is coming off his second straight season where he was just above league average, but his defense, Statcast metrics and expected statistics suggest he should be much better. Read an excellent piece on the mysterious seasons he has had here. His market will be similar to the one Nicholas Castellanos will have, but I think Ozuna goes to the Braves.
Atlanta has been linked to Ozuna a few times now and he would be a great outfield partner to pair up with Ronald Acuna Jr for the future. The Braves are close and adding a player like Ozuna to their roster could push them to that next level.
4. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Age 34
2019 Statistics: 659 PA, .259/.379/.521 (.900), 37 HR, 94 RBI, 15.2 BB%, 23.5 K%, 4.9 WAR
Prediction: Texas Rangers, 3 years $70 million
Donaldson returned to his former self last season with a 4.9 win season. From 2013-2017 this was normal for him, as he was one of the games best players. He now enters free agency at 34 years old and in line for a large deal, although the qualifying offer could haunt him a bit.
The Rangers are a team that is expected to be active in free agency and sign a big name player like Donaldson. They have a solid rotation with Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, and Kyle Gibson leading the way so signing a guy like Donaldson could bring them near the top of the American League.
3. Stephen Strasburg, SP, Age 31
2019 Statistics: 18-6, 3.32 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 29.9 K%, 6.7 BB%, 1.04 WHIP, 5.7 WAR
Prediction: Washington Nationals, 6 years $200 million
Strasburg is coming off a World Series title in Washington that saw him win World Series MVP. Before his opt-out earlier this off season he was set to make $100 million over four years, and now he is in line to double the amount of money he will earn. I believe there will be enough teams in on Strasburg to stretch his deal to $200 million, and Washington will be the deal that ends up paying him.
The Nationals lost Bryce Harper to free agency last season and will likely lose Rendon this season. They simply cannot also let Strasburg walk, thus letting three superstars go in two years. Strasburg will definitely be costly, but for a team coming off a World Series title, you are just fine paying for him.
2. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Age 30
2019 Statistics: 659 PA, .319/.412/.598 (1.010), 34 HR, 126 RBI, 12.4 BB%, 13.3 K%, 7.0 WAR
Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers, 6 years, $234 million
Rendon is undoubtedly the best free agent position player this off season and he will get paid as such. I don’t think he will take a deal with a lot of years like Machado or Harper last season, simply because he has said he does not want to. If he is in the market for a five to seven year deal then a lot of teams will be in on him, but I think it fits the Dodgers perfectly.
The Dodgers have been reluctant to hand out huge deals to free agents, but last off season they were looking at Bryce Harper for four years at $45 million per year. If Rendon is open to doing something like that, the Dodgers wide open World Series window somehow becomes even wider. Maybe this is the final piece to give them their World Series title.
- Gerrit Cole, SP, Age 29
2019 Statistics: 20-5, 2.50 ERA, 2.64 FIP, 39.9 K%, 5.9 BB%, 0.89 WHIP, 7.4 WAR
Prediction: Los Angeles Angels, 9 years $324 million
Cole is clearly the best player in the free agent pool and one of the best starting pitchers to hit the market in recent memory. He just missed the AL Cy Young Award to teammate Justin Verlander and he is only 29 years old. There will be a lot of teams seeing if they can land Cole including the Yankees, Dodgers, Twins, White Sox, Rangers, Phillies and Angels. Everything there is to say about Cole has been said as he is the most talked about name in baseball these days. I expect him to get at least $300 million but he likely won’t sign until after the new year.
The Angels have been listed as the favorite to land Cole since talks of his free agency began. They have an obvious need for starting pitching, they have Mike Trout , who is the Gerrit Cole of position players, and Cole is from the area where the Angels play. With a need to win while Trout is still performing like the best to ever play, the Angels should push hard to land Cole, but there is no real indication to who will land him. As a Twins fan, knowing he might go to the Yankees still haunts me when I go to sleep, so I would love for it to be the Angels.
This was my final part of my free agency predictions. I am not an expert or anywhere close so I could go 0/30—which would be kind of funny. 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.