Baseball is back! Major League Baseball and the players union finally agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement and the 2022 MLB season will begin in a few weeks. Before that happens there's a ton of business to be done. There are still a lot of free agents who remained unsigned when the lockout went into effect.
Here's a look at the top free agents still available as the season rapidly approaches.
1. Carlos Correa, SS
Correa was the top free agent on the market before the lockout, and he remains the big fish out there. The 27-year-old is a two-time All-Star, helped lead the Houston Astros to a World Series title in 2017 (albeit, a tainted one) and won a Gold Glove and a Platinum Glove in 2021.
Last season in a contract year, Correa slashed .279/.366/.485 while hitting 26 home runs, driving in 92 runs and posting a career-best fWAR of 5.8. He peaked at the right time to secure a huge deal.
2. Freddie Freeman, 1B
Freeman is one of baseball's great clubhouse leaders, and after winning a World Series with the Braves in 2021, everyone just assumed he'd be back, especially after winning the NL MVP in 2020. That's not so certain now and the 32-year-old could be switching uniforms for the first time in his career.
In 2021, the five-time All-Star slashed .300/.393/.503, with 31 home runs and 83 RBI. It was another season that garnered him MVP consideration, and he posted an fWAR of 4.5. He'll get a huge deal from someone, and it might not be the Braves.
3. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF
Bryant had a bounce-back season in 2021, as he slashed .265/.353/.481 and hit 25 home runs while driving in 73 runs and posting an fWAR of 3.6. His career .880 OPS will interest teams. He just turned 30, and his bat will play in pretty much every lineup in baseball, regardless of his defensive position.
While Bryant isn't the guy who won an MVP in 2016, he's a four-time All-Star who can still put up good numbers. He won't last long on the open market.
4. Nick Castellanos, OF
Castellanos is another 30-year-old set to land a big payday. He was a first-time All-Star in 2021 and was named All-MLB second team. He set new career marks with 34 home runs, a 4.2 fWAR, an OPS of .939 and a140 wRC+. He won't blow you away in the outfield, but his bat has only improved over the past few years.
Castellanos should come off the board quickly. A number of teams were deep into talks with him before the lockout. Consistent, power-hitting outfielders can be tough to find.
5. Trevor Story, SS
Before the 2021 season it looked like Story might be atop this list. He didn't have a great season and, for some reason, the Rockies refused to trade him at the deadline. Story slashed .251/.329/.471 and hit 24 home runs, and posted an fWAR of 3.5. He was solid but it wasn't the contract year he wanted to have.
Story is 29 and can still get it done at shortstop. He's won two Silver Sluggers and his bat should bounce back in 2022. He's still an attractive piece despite being dragged down by the rest of the Rockies in 2021.
6. Seiya Suzuki, OF
Suzuki is easily the most intriguing player on this list because of his tremendous upside. A six-year star in Japan's NPB, he smashed a career-high 38 home runs for Hiroshima in 2021. He also slashed .317/.433./.636, with 88 walks and 89 strikeouts. The 27-year-old has a ton of power and rare plate discipline. He's also an outstanding right fielder after winning his fifth Gold Glove in 2021.
While the transition from the NPB to MLB isn't always smooth, Suzuki has a great chance to translate well.
7. Carlos Rodon, SP
Rodon had an excellent season in 2021, finally delivering on the promise that made him the third pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. The lefty made his first All-Star appearance and threw a no-hitter along with going 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP and an fWAR of 4.9. The White Sox opted not to bring him back, likely due to his career-long durability issues. He had a shoulder problem in 2021 that limited him.
Rodon is a candidate to get a high-dollar, short-term "prove-it" contract to see if he can stay healthy. The upside is high here, but there is an extremely low floor.
8. Clayton Kershaw, SP
Kershaw ended his 2021 season on the injured list thanks to long-simmering elbow and forearm inflammation in his left arm. Now he hits free agency for the first time in his career. In 2021 he only made 22 starts and went 10-8 with a 3.55 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. It was his worst season in more than a decade. But if he's healthy, Kershaw can still come through in big moments.
At 33 with nearly 2,500 innings on his arm, don't expect the three-time Cy Young Award winner to get a long-term deal. But he could pay off for a contender if he's truly back to 100 percent.
9. Kyle Schwarber, OF/DH
Schwarber is hitting free agency at the right time after a home run explosion that captivated baseball in 2021. He tied a league record with 16 home runs in June for the Nationals before being traded to Boston, where he was even better. In Boston he slashed .291/.435/.522 with seven home runs in 41 games. Overall he hit 32 bombs last season with an OPS of .928.
The 29-year-old is severely limited in the field, and his best position might be designated hitter. It's a boon to his free agency prospects that the DH is now universal.
10. Nelson Cruz, DH
At 41, Nelson Cruz can still bring the lumber. A straight DH at this point in his career, the seven-time All-Star is a dinger machine. In 2021 with the Twins and Rays he hit 32 home runs and drove in 86 runs in 140 games. He slashed .265/.334/.497. He's now at 449 career home runs and you can bet he's going to make a run at 500 before he retires.
Like Schwarber, Cruz's market just doubled with the NL getting the DH. He'll likely be stuck to a one-year deal but he'll be a massive bat to help a contender.