Updated MLB Free-Agency Big Board For Top 25 Players Remaining (2024)

Updated MLB Free-Agency Big Board For Top 25 Players Remaining

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    Updated MLB Free-Agency Big Board For Top 25 Players Remaining (1)

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    The Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes turned the MLB free-agent market into a slow burn, but now that he has signed his record-setting deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, secondary dominoes are starting to fall.

    Bleacher Report's Top 100 MLB free agents list was published at the start of the offseason, with Ohtani penciled into the No. 1 spot. Aaron Nola (No. 3), Sonny Gray (No. 9), Eduardo Rodriguez (No. 10), Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (No. 12), Michael Wacha (No. 20), Jeimer Candelario (No. 21) and Seth Lugo (No. 25) have also signed from our original top 25.

    That's enough activity to warrant an updated version of our free-agency big board, running through the top 25 players still searching for their next contract. Players are ranked based on a combination of their expected production and their projected earning power.

    Let's start with a long list of honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

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    Tommy PhamNorm Hall/Getty Images

    These players also appeared in our Top 100 free agents list at the start of the offseason and have yet to sign new contracts:

    SP: RHP Michael Lorenzen (39), LHP James Paxton (48), LHP Hyun Jin Ryu (52), RHP Naoyuki Uwasawa (58), RHP Frankie Montas (65), LHP Sean Manaea (74), LHP Alex Wood (89), RHP Zack Greinke (97)

    RP: LHP Yuki Matsui (37), LHP Aroldis Chapman (41), RHP Ryan Brasier (45), RHP David Robertson (57), RHP Yariel Rodríguez (60), LHP Matt Moore (61), RHP Phil Maton (67), LHP Wandy Peralta (71), RHP Ryne Stanek (81), RHP Jesse Chavez (84), RHP Shelby Miller (85), LHP Brent Suter (88), RHP Keynan Middleton (93), RHP Jakob Junis (95), RHP John Brebbia (99)

    C: Gary Sánchez (51), Martín Maldonado (98)

    1B/3B: Brandon Belt (50), Carlos Santana (53), C.J. Cron (69), Gio Urshela (70), Joey Votto (77), Donovan Solano (83), Garrett Cooper (92)

    2B/SS: Amed Rosario (44), Isiah Kiner-Falefa (78), Enrique Hernández (82), Adam Frazier (91), Kolten Wong (96)

    OF: Harrison Bader (36), Tommy Pham (38), Adam Duvall (46), Eddie Rosario (55), Michael Brantley (59), Joey Gallo (79), Randal Grichuk (80), Travis Jankowski (86), Aaron Hicks (87), Robbie Grossman (94), Jurickson Profar (100)

Nos. 25-21

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    Robert StephensonJulio Aguilar/Getty Images

    25. 2B/OF Whit Merrifield (Age: 34)

    Stats: 592 PA, 94 OPS+, .272/.318/.382, 38 XBH (11 HR), 67 RBI, 26 SB, 0.8 WAR

    An All-Star for the third time in his career in 2023, Merrifield continues to provide a nice mix of contact skills, speed and defensive versatility. He is the best available option for teams still searching for a starting second baseman, but he could also fit on a variety of contenders in a super-utility role.

    24. RHP Robert Stephenson (Age: 30)

    Stats: 60 G, 1 SV, 15 HLD, 3.10 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 13.2 K/9, 52.1 IP, 1.1 WAR

    The Tampa Bay Rays acquired Stephenson in a June trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he went on to post a 2.35 ERA, 0.68 WHIP and 14.1 K/9 in 42 appearances following the trade. A former Top 100 prospect with the Cincinnati Reds, he has more untapped upside than any other reliever on the market.

    23. SS Tim Anderson (Age: 30)

    Stats: 524 PA, 60 OPS+, .245/.286/.296, 21 XBH (1 HR), 25 RBI, 13 SB, -2.0 WAR

    Anderson hit .318/.347/.474 over 1,641 plate appearances during the four-year span from 2019 through the 2022 season, but he was arguably the least productive player in baseball in 2023 with a 60 OPS+ that ranked dead last among the 134 hitters who qualified for the batting title. Still, there is a lot of buy-low value potential on a one-year deal.

    22. RHP Jordan Hicks (Age: 27)

    Stats: 65 G, 12 SV, 13 HLD, 3.29 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 11.1 K/9, 65.2 IP, 0.8 WAR

    The Angels, Astros, Cardinals, Orioles, Rangers, Red Sox and Yankees have all been linked to Hicks this offseason. With his blistering 100.4 mph sinker and a sweeper that generated a 59.5 percent whiff rate, it's not hard to see why there is such widespread interest. He is also one of the youngest players in this free-agent class, which makes a long-term deal even more appealing.

    21. OF Michael A. Taylor (Age: 32)

    Stats: 388 PA, 94 OPS+, .220/.278/.442, 36 XBH (21 HR), 51 RBI, 13 SB, 1.9 WAR

    Taylor is one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball with 43 defensive runs saved at the position over the past three seasons. His glove will continue to drive his value, but he also slugged a career-high 21 home runs during the 2023 season and swiped double-digit bases for the sixth time in his career.

Nos. 20-16

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    Megan Briggs/Getty Images

    20. LHP Clayton Kershaw (Age: 35)

    Stats: 24 GS, 13-5, 2.46 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 40 BB, 137 K, 131.2 IP, 3.7 WAR

    Kershaw underwent shoulder surgery in early November and is not expected to make his 2024 debut until the summer. There's a good chance he will simply wait until he's healthy to make a free-agency decision, and a reunion with the Dodgers remains the most likely outcome. The future Hall of Famer continues to pitch at an elite level when healthy, though he's not the same workhorse he was in his prime.

    19. OF Joc Pederson (Age: 31)

    Stats: 425 PA, 111 OPS+, .235/.348/.416, 32 XBH (15 HR), 51 RBI, 0.6 WAR

    Pederson turned a 146 OPS+ and 23 home runs during the 2022 season into a $19.7 million qualifying offer last offseason, but he will likely need to take a pay cut this winter. With a .622 OPS against left-handed pitching in his career compared to an .834 OPS against righties, he is best used as a platoon player.

    18. 3B/DH Justin Turner (Age: 38)

    Stats: 626 PA, 114 OPS+, .276/.345/.455, 54 XBH (23 HR), 96 RBI, 2.1 WAR

    Turner declined a $13.4 million player option in favor of a hefty $6.7 million buyout following a productive season hitting in the middle of the Boston Red Sox lineup. He hit .338/.395/.547 over 172 plate appearances with runners in scoring position and remains one of baseball's best clutch hitters.

    17. OF Jorge Soler (Age: 31)

    Stats: 580 PA, 128 OPS+, .250/.341/.512, 60 XBH (36 HR), 75 RBI, 1.8 WAR

    After a disappointing first season with the Miami Marlins in 2022, Soler bounced back in a big way and earned his first All-Star selection. He raked in May (.982 OPS, 12 HR) and August (.913 OPS, 10 HR) en route to the second 30-homer season of his career, and while he can be streaky, he is one of the best power bats in a thin market for sluggers.

    16. RHP Héctor Neris (Age: 34)

    Stats: 71 G, 2 SV, 31 HLD, 1.71 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, 68.1 IP, 2.5 WAR

    Neris has one of baseball's best strikeout pitches in a lethal splitter, and it has become even more effective in recent years as he has started throwing his mid-90s fastball more and his splitter less. He pitched in a setup role for the Houston Astros the last two years, but with 89 career saves, he also has significant experience closing games.

Nos. 15-11

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    J.D. MartinezRob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images

    15. RHP Mike Clevinger (Age: 32)

    Stats: 24 GS, 9-9, 3.77 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 40 BB, 110 K, 131.1 IP, 3.3 WAR

    After missing the 2021 season recovering from Tommy John surgery and then posting a 4.33 ERA and 87 ERA+ over 114.1 innings with the San Diego Padres in 2022, Clevinger settled for a one-year, $12 million deal from the Chicago White Sox last offseason. He is no longer the strikeout pitcher he was in his prime, but he is still an effective middle-of-the-rotation arm.

    14. 1B Rhys Hoskins (Age: 30)

    Stats: Did not play (Torn ACL)

    Hoskins missed the entire 2023 season after suffering a torn ACL during spring training, so he might have to settle for a one-year deal to prove he is back to pre-injury form. He has a 125 OPS+ over six seasons and has averaged 36 home runs and 98 RBI per 162 games in his career, including a 30-homer, 2.9-WAR season in 2022 when he helped the Philadelphia Phillies reach the World Series.

    13. OF Kevin Kiermaier (Age: 33)

    Stats: 408 PA, 104 OPS+, .265/.322/.419, 35 XBH (8 HR), 36 RBI, 14 SB, 3.9 WAR

    One of the elite defensive players of his generation, Kiermaier won his fourth Gold Glove in 2023 while playing on a one-year, $9 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. His 19.9 defensive WAR since the start of the 2014 season trails only Andrelton Simmons (21.8) during that decade-long stretch, and he has been a league-average offensive player throughout his career.

    12. C/DH Mitch Garver (Age: 32)

    Stats: 344 PA, 134 OPS+, .270/.370/.500, 30 XBH (19 HR), 50 RBI, 2.1 WAR

    Garver served as the primary designated hitter for the World Series champion Texas Rangers in 2023 while also starting 27 games behind the plate. He won a Silver Slugger in 2019 with a 31-homer season, and has a 123 OPS+ while averaging 30 home runs and 82 RBI per 162 games for his career. He may not be an everyday catcher, but he can be an extremely valuable offensive player in a role similar to the one he filled this year.

    11. DH J.D. Martinez (Age: 36)

    Stats: 479 PA, 134 OPS+, .271/.321/.572, 62 XBH (33 HR), 103 RBI, 1.9 WAR

    Martinez hit just 16 home runs in 596 plate appearances during the 2022 season with the Boston Red Sox, and it was fair to wonder if his days as a top-tier power hitter were behind him. The Los Angeles Dodgers rolled the dice with a one-year, $10 million deal and he rewarded them with a 33-homer, 103-RBI campaign while ranking among the MLB leaders in average exit velocity (98th percentile), hard-hit rate (98th percentile) and expected slugging percentage (96th percentile).

10. RHP Lucas Giolito

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    Top 100 Rank: 15

    Age: 29

    Stats: 33 GS, 8-15, 4.88 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 73 BB, 204 K, 184.1 IP, 1.6 WAR

    A few years ago, Lucas GIolito would have been a shoo-in for a $100 million deal in free agency after three straight seasons as a bona fide ace atop the Chicago White Sox starting rotation.

    After struggling to a 4.90 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 161.2 innings during the 2022 season, he pitched well enough during the first half last season to be one of the top pitchers on the market at the trade deadline, but he struggled to a 6.96 ERA in 12 starts with the Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland Guardians over the final two months.

    His age and track record of success make him a prime candidate to rebound, but his late-season struggles undoubtedly cost him some money.

9. LHP Shota Imanaga

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    Top 100 Rank: 14

    Age: 30

    Stats (Japan): 24 GS, 7-5, 2.66 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 24 BB, 188 K, 159.0 IP

    Yoshinobu Yamamoto is not the only top-tier starting pitcher poised to make the jump from the Japanese League this offseason, as left-hander Shota Imanaga was posted by the Yokohama BayStars on Nov. 27.

    The starter and winning pitcher for Team Japan in the 2023 World Baseball Classic final against the United States, Imanaga has a 2.96 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 1,183 strikeouts in 1,129.2 innings over eight seasons in the Japanese League.

    He had the best season of his career in 2022, finishing 12-4 with a 2.04 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 151 strikeouts in 158.2 innings, and he profiles as a middle-of-the-rotation starter in the majors with potential for a bit more.

8. OF Teoscar Hernández

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    Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 13

    Age: 31

    Stats: 678 PA, 106 OPS+, .258/.305/.435, 57 XBH (26 HR), 93 RBI, 2.1 WAR

    Since his first season as an everyday player in 2018, Teoscar Hernández ranks 23rd in the majors with 147 home runs, and he won back-to-back Silver Slugger awards in 2020 and 2021.

    His first and potentially only season with the Seattle Mariners started off slow, but he heated up over the summer and went on an absolute tear in August when he hit .365/.396/.654 with nine doubles, seven home runs and 22 RBI in 26 games.

    The list of hitters with 30-homer power still available this offseason is a short one, and after Lourdes Gurriel Jr. re-signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, he is now the best corner outfielder on the market by a wide margin.

7. RHP Marcus Stroman

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    Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 11

    Age: 32

    Stats: 27 G, 25 GS, 10-9, 3.95 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 52 BB, 119 K, 136.2 IP, 1.6 WAR

    Marcus Stroman went 9-4 with a 2.28 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 83 strikeouts in 98.2 innings over his first 16 starts during the 2023 season, earning his second career All-Star selection and looking like one of the early NL Cy Young front-runners.

    However, he struggled to an 8.29 ERA and 1.87 WHIP in just 38 innings the rest of the way, missing all of August and part of September with a calf injury before returning in a bullpen role down the stretch.

    The veteran right-hander opted out of the final season of his contract with the Chicago Cubs, leaving $21 million on the table. He might not be able to top that in terms of annual value with his next deal, but he should be able to secure a multi-year pact and a larger total guarantee.

6. 3B Matt Chapman

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    Megan Briggs/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 8

    Age: 30

    Stats: 581 PA, 108 OPS+, .240/.330/.424, 58 XBH (17 HR), 54 RBI, 4.4 WAR

    An elite defensive third baseman with 30-homer power offensively, Matt Chapman impacts the game in a variety of ways, and he took home his fourth career Gold Glove with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2024.

    He has a 117 OPS+ over seven seasons and has averaged 29 home runs, 80 RBI and 5.8 WAR per 162 games, tallying at least 3.0 WAR in every season of his career aside from the shortened 2020 campaign.

    His offensive numbers don't jump off the page, but there is potential for more after he ranked among the MLB leaders in average exit velocity (98th percentile), hard-hit rate (100th percentile) and barrel rate (98th percentile).

5. LHP Jordan Montgomery

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    Top 100 Rank: 7

    Age: 30

    Stats: 32 GS, 10-11, 3.20 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 48 BB, 166 K, 188.2 IP, 4.1 WAR

    Only 11 different pitchers have started at least 30 games in each of the past three seasons, and left-hander Jordan Montgomery is on that short list, establishing himself as a durable rotation staple with the New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers.

    He bolstered his free-agency stock by posting a 2.79 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 67.2 innings over 11 starts with the Rangers after he was acquired at the deadline, and he continued to throw the ball well in October while anchoring the postseason rotation alongside Nathan Eovaldi.

    His age, durability, consistency and strong postseason should all help drive his asking price north of $100 million.

4. LHP Josh Hader

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    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 6

    Age: 29

    Stats: 61 G, 33 SV, 1.28 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 13.6 K/9, 56.1 IP, 2.4 WAR

    Josh Hader is in a class of his own among relief pitchers in this year's free-agent market, and he no doubt has his sights set on surpassing the five-year, $102 million deal that Edwin Díaz signed last offseason for the richest contract ever for a reliever.

    Aside from a brief hiccup during the second half of the 2022 season, Hader has consistently been one of baseball's most dominant pitchers since he arrived in the big leagues in 2017.

    He has struck out 648 of the 1,535 batters he has faced in his career for a staggering 42.2 percent strikeout rate, and he has converted 165 of 190 save opportunities while posting a 2.50 ERA and 0.94 WHIP en route to five All-Star selections.

3. 1B/OF Cody Bellinger

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    Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 5

    Age: 28

    Stats: 556 PA, 133 OPS+, .307/.356/.525, 56 XBH (26 HR), 97 RBI, 20 SB, 4.4 WAR

    Cody Bellinger rebuilt his stock in a big way after getting non-tendered by the Los Angeles Dodgers at the start of last offseason, joining the Chicago Cubs and finishing 10th in NL MVP voting while also winning Silver Slugger honors.

    The 2019 NL MVP is still in the prime of his career, and his ability to provide quality defense at first base and in center field along with the speed to steal 20 bases gives him significant value beyond just what he does in the batter's box.

    According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post he is seeking a deal north of $200 million in free agency, and as the best offensive player on the market by a wide margin now that Shohei Ohtani has signed, he just might get it.

2. LHP Blake Snell

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    Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 4

    Age: 30

    Stats: 32 GS, 14-9, 2.25 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 99 BB, 234 K, 180.0 IP, 6.0 WAR

    Blake Snell became the seventh player in MLB history to win a Cy Young in both leagues during the 2023 season, overcoming an MLB-leading 99 walks to put together a dominant season for the San Diego Padres.

    After posting a 5.04 ERA over his first 10 starts, he went 13-3 with a 1.18 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 180 strikeouts in 130 innings the rest of the way, allowing one earned run or fewer in 16 of 22 starts. His 86.7 percent strand rate is not sustainable and there will inevitably be some regression, but it's difficult to overlook his second-half dominance.

    The five-year, $115 million deal that Robbie Ray signed with the Seattle Mariners is a reasonable starting point in negotiations.

1. RHP Yoshinobu Yamamoto

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    Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 2

    Age: 25

    Stats (Japan): 24 GS, 17-6, 1.16 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 28 BB, 176 K, 171.0 IP

    Yoshinobu Yamamoto has won the Sawamura Award in three straight seasons and the Pacific League MVP in back-to-back years while establishing himself as one of the most dominant pitchers in Japanese League history.

    • 2021: 26 GS, 18-5, 1.39 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 206 K, 193.2 IP
    • 2022: 26 GS, 15-5, 1.68 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 205 K, 193.0 IP
    • 2023: 24 GS, 17-6, 1.16 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 176 K, 171.0 IP

    The fact that he is still only 25 years old makes him a unique free-agency case, and his age and elite track record should pave the way for a massive long-term deal.

As an enthusiast with demonstrable expertise in baseball and MLB free agency, I can confidently analyze and provide insights into the concepts mentioned in the article. My knowledge encompasses player statistics, team dynamics, and the intricacies of free agency negotiations. Let's delve into the key concepts used in the updated MLB Free-Agency Big Board for the top 25 remaining players.

  1. Shohei Ohtani Sweepstakes: The article mentions the impact of Shohei Ohtani's signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, emphasizing how it triggered a series of moves in the free-agent market. This signals the significance of key player movements and their influence on the overall landscape of free agency.

  2. Bleacher Report's Top 100 MLB Free Agents List: The article refers to Bleacher Report's initial list of the top 100 MLB free agents published at the beginning of the offseason. This list serves as a benchmark for evaluating the remaining free agents, with rankings based on factors like performance, potential, and projected earning power.

  3. Updated Free-Agency Big Board: Due to recent signings and developments, the article introduces an updated version of the free-agency big board focusing on the top 25 players still searching for contracts. This reflects the dynamic nature of the free-agent market and the constant changes in player availability.

  4. Honorable Mentions: The article lists players who were initially part of the top 100 free agents but have yet to sign new contracts. These players are considered honorable mentions and include pitchers (SP, RP), catchers (C), and players for various positions (1B/3B, 2B/SS, OF).

  5. Player Rankings: The top 25 players are ranked based on a combination of their expected production and projected earning power. This dual-ranking approach suggests that teams are considering both a player's on-field contributions and their financial demands in the decision-making process.

  6. Player Profiles: The article provides detailed profiles for selected players, including their positions, ages, recent statistics, and notable achievements. These profiles offer insights into each player's skill set, performance history, and potential contributions to a new team.

  7. Relevant Player Statistics: Various statistics are used to assess player performance, such as OPS+, ERA, WHIP, WAR, and traditional batting and pitching statistics. These metrics provide a comprehensive view of a player's offensive, defensive, or pitching capabilities.

  8. Injury Status: The article mentions players like Clayton Kershaw and Rhys Hoskins, providing information on their injury status and how it might impact their contracts. This adds a layer of complexity to the free-agency decisions, as teams must weigh potential risks associated with injured players.

  9. Potential Contract Values: The article speculates on potential contract values for certain players, such as Cody Bellinger seeking a deal north of $200 million. This highlights the financial considerations and expectations that players and teams bring to the negotiation table.

  10. International Players: The article discusses the case of Yoshinobu Yamamoto, an elite Japanese pitcher, highlighting his track record in the Japanese League and the unique nature of his free-agency case. This emphasizes the global nature of MLB free agency and the pursuit of talent from various baseball leagues.

In summary, the article provides a comprehensive overview of the current state of MLB free agency, incorporating player rankings, statistics, contract considerations, and the impact of key signings on the market.

Updated MLB Free-Agency Big Board For Top 25 Players Remaining (2024)
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