10 Best MLB Free Agents This Offseason
Major League Baseball has entered a highly-anticipated offseason, and with labor strife looming, the business of the game may have to wait. Free agency is officially open, but teams seem hesitant to make big moves until the future of the game is secure with a new collective bargaining agreement. Which is unfortunate, because the free agent class is absolutely loaded and a few moves could shift the balance of power in the league.
Here's our look at the top 10 MLB free agents available this winter.
Best MLB Free Agents Available This Offseason
1. Carlos Correa, SS
Correa is easily the biggest talent on the market and will make the biggest impact on his next team. The only question is who will be willing to meet his asking price? Correa has lived up to his status as the No. 1 pick in the 2012 MLB Draft offensively and defensively. The 27-year-old is a two-time All-Star and just won his first Gold Glove. He also led the Astros to a World Series title in 2017 (yeah, I know), and has gotten them there three times.
Correa is coming off a season in which he slashed .279/.336/.485 while hitting a career-high 26 home runs, and posting a career-best fWAR of 5.8. He chose the exact right time to peak.
2. Corey Seager, SS
Seager is a few months older than Correa and has similarly been outstanding during his time in the big leagues. Despite two major injuries, he's been a mainstay for the Dodgers up the middle for the last six years. The reason he falls behind Correa is defense, where Seager's rapidly diminishing range may push him to third base.
With a career slash line of .297/.367/.504, a World Series MVP and two All-Star appearances, Seager has the pedigree of a marquee free agent signing. His lefty bat and propensity for clutch hits will get him a hefty payday this season. Another issue is his power. In his first full season back in 2016, Seager hit 22 home runs. He's never topped that number. That's partially due to time missed for injuries, but it's a concern long-term if he'll be moving off shortstop.
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
Freddie Freeman just continues to defy expectations by not dropping in production with age. The 32-year-old followed up an MVP season in 2020 by leading the Atlanta Braves to a World Series title in 2021. Virtually everyone thinks Freeman will be back in Atlanta due to the post-championship afterglow. Freeman gets the nod at No. 3 thanks to a nine-year stretch of posting an fWAR above 3.0. In 2021 he was at 4.5.
Freeman has a career slash line of .295/.384/.509 and is coming off a 2021 season where he hit .300, with 31 home runs, a .393 on-base percentage and an OPS of .896. He's as consistent as any first baseman in baseball and will get rewarded this offseason as a result.
4. Max Scherzer, RHP
Scherzer was a godsend for the Dodgers down the stretch and helped keep them in a tight race with the Giants. He's still an ace-level pitcher despite being 37. The eight-time All-Star led the Nationals to a World Series title in 2019, has won three Cy Young Awards, and can be brilliant in big games. In 2021 between time with the Nationals and Dodgers, he went 15-4 with a 2.46 ERA and 236 strikeouts in 179.1 innings. He's defying the notion that pitchers fade in their 30s by powering through like an absolute monster.
It's fair to say Scherzer is on the brink of being considered a surefire Hall of Famer, but two more phenomenal years will cement that status. It will be fascinating which team he picks this offseason, as virtually all the top contenders are likely to come after him.
5. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF
Bryant has faded a bit since his 7.9 fWAR MVP campaign in 2016, but he still has a bat that can be elite. He bounced back a bit in 2021 and helped the Giants finish with the best record in baseball after a midseason trade from the Cubs. Overall in 2021, Bryant slashed .265/.353/.481 and hit 25 home runs while driving in 73 runs. His OPS+ of 124 was respectable but still down from his epic first three MLB seasons.
Bryant is versatile, which helps his value. The 29-year-old can play anywhere in the outfield -- though is best in a corner -- and can play third and first. He'll likely never get back to being the guy who won the 2016 NL MVP, but the four-time All-Star can be a reliable middle-of-the-order bat on a contender.
6. Trevor Story, SS
Story picked a terrible time for a down season (by his standards). Many believed he'd be traded at the deadline, but the Rockies opted to hold on to the 28-year-old and instead will lose him for draft pick compensation. A change of scenery in 2021 may have helped Story figure things out as he struggled to find a consistent rhythm offensively. He wound up slashing .251/.329/.471, with 24 home runs and an fWAR of 3.5. Not the year he wanted to have heading into free agency.
He is an elite defender, which will save him a bit, but the fact that his offense declined while he was playing at Coors Field is concerning. He might need to take a high-dollar one-year contract from a contender to prove himself worthy of a massive deal.
7. Marcus Semien, 2B/SS
Semien moved away from the Oakland A's this season and wound up having a career-year in Toronto. The 31-year-old slugged a career-best .538, while setting career-highs in home runs (45) and RBI (102). He slashed .265/.334/.538, while posting an fWAR of 6.6. While he's not a great shortstop, he won a Gold Glove playing second base in 2021, and that kind of offensive production is elite from a middle infielder.
He'll get a multiyear deal this offseason. The Blue Jays will attempt to re-sign him, but Semien should have a lot of suitors.
8. Robbie Ray, LHP
No one helped themselves in 2021 more than Robbie Ray, who led the American League with 248 strikeouts and a 2.84 ERA. The 30-year-old lefty had shown flashes in the past, but he put it all together for the Blue Jays this season and was dominant. His 3.9 fWAR was a career-best as he revitalized his career.
Teams will likely be wary of his past command problems when considering contract numbers for Ray. Plenty of guys have flashed for one season, gotten a big deal and collapsed -- looking in your direction, Patrick Corbin. Ray had a brilliant 2021 but won't find as big a market as other starters with better track records.
9. Starling Marte, OF
Marte was excellent in 2021, posting a career-best fWAR of 5.4, as he slashed .310/.383/.458 while splitting time between Miami and Oakland. His OPS+ of 132 was also a career high. An outfielder with power and speed, Marte doesn't play like a 32-year-old and is peaking in his early 30s. A strange phenomenon.
He'll be an ideal fit for a contender needing a boost on a short-term deal. He might get three to four years but the contract is almost certain to be front-loaded to protect against a rapid decline in his mid-30s.
10. Kevin Gausman, RHP
Gausman has always had good stuff, but the 30-year-old put it all together in 2021 and finally lived up to his enormous potential. He went 14-6 with a 2.81 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 227 strikeouts in 192 innings for the Giants. He's another guy hitting free agency at the perfect time.
Like Ray, teams might be hesitant to shell out huge money for Gausman because he doesn't have a track record of success. The best fit would be a return to the Giants, where he can stick with the coaching group that helped turn around his career.