The Boston Red Sox are World Series Champions and a huge contributor in getting them the pennant was off-season acquisition J.D. Martinez. That is not to say that signing a player in the offseason means a ring is to come, but it is a good start.
The off-season brings a lot of different moving parts, including contract extensions, winter meetings, and most importantly, free agency. While some stars are locked into long-term deals, (the thirteen year, entire career deal for Giancarlo Stanton comes to mind) there is a gluttony of talent currently swimming the high-pressure waters of the free agency pool.
For a better look at what kind of stars might be finding new homes this winter, here is a list of the top ten MLB free agents for the 2018-19 off-season:
1. Bryce Harper RF / Washington Nationals
The highlight of the MLB off-season has long been determined – where will Harper land? Harper, deemed the “Chosen One” by a 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated, has been the chosen one – that is, he’s chosen one or two seasons to really showcase his talent.
Harper rolls into his first off-season as a free agent having compiled just two seasons batting above .274 – though he batted .330 in 2015, and won the MVP award. As recent as the 2017 season he hit .319 with 87 RBI while playing just 111 games. Expect Harper to make a huge splash in free agency – his upside and marketability will have every MLB team salivating.
Prediction: 10yr/ $406 million
2. Manny Machado SS / Los Angeles Dodgers
While Incredibles 2 was an absolute hit in theaters over the summer, the biggest blockbuster of the dog days came out of Baltimore. L.A. picked up Machado in a huge move to bolster their championship hopes, and it worked out.
Machado wrapped up his season with L.A. nicely, putting together a 37 home run, 107 RBI campaign, to go with a .297 average. This comes after being an All-Star selection in two of his past three seasons, as well as having thirty or more home runs in each season, with 85 or more RBI’s to boot. While L.A. may have just rented Machado for the second half of the season, expect them, and many other teams to see if they can get “El Ministro” a starring role on their squad in the upcoming year.
Prediction: 6yr/ $192.5 million
3. Craig Kimbrel RP / Boston Red Sox
If any reliever is going to make some noise in free agency, it’s Kimbrel. He is the current active saves leader in the MLB, but he has far more pedigree than just that. The Red Sox closer checks in with a K/9 stat above 13 for every season of his career. Also, as a closer, he placed sixth in Cy Young award voting in 2017. His 2018 didn’t make much of an impact on his value for the better, or worse – expect Kimbrel to lead this year’s class of free agency relievers.
2yr/ $36 million
4. David Price SP / Boston Red Sox
The Price Is… average? David Price was scooped up by the Sox in 2016’s free agency as one of the most highly touted free agents in that year’s class, and his inaugural season was garden-variety. He had an ERA of just about four, a K/9 rating below nine, and a WHIP of 1.2.
Price has been better in both of his past two years with Boston, but his numbers are still nothing to write home about. His consistency will certainly create interest from almost every MLB squad, but don’t expect him to break any financial records if he chooses to opt out of his contract this year.
Prediction: 3yr/ $82 million
5. Michael Brantley OF / Cleveland Indians
Tied with Carlos Carrasco as the longest tenured Indian, Brantley’s time with the Tribe may be coming to a close this off-season. He has put up fabulous numbers for Cleveland over the course of his career. While he’s been healthy, that is. Brantley has had trouble staying on the field in his MLB campaign thus far, and he’s missed over four hundred games through nine full seasons of his career. His talent will land him plenty of offers – his injury history will hurt his income opportunities.
Prediction: 6yr/ $120 million
6. Clayton Kershaw SP / Los Angeles Dodgers
Let’s be real here, there is little to no chance that Kershaw opts out of his contract with the Dodgers. I’m sure there are many fans (non-Dodgers fans, too) that would agree in believing that number 22 will go down in history as a Dodger legend and ONLY a Dodger legend. For the sake of the delusional, though, let’s say he does choose to opt out this year. He’s already the highest paid player in baseball. Expect Kershaw to take a pay cut so he can go somewhere to win his first ring.
2yr/ $60 million
7. Patrick Corbin SP / Arizona Diamondbacks
Who? Corbin came into the 2018 year with an ERA up around 4.50 over the past two seasons, but after making improvements throughout the 2017 season, he slid into the D-Backs starting rotation in the number four slot to begin 2018.
Corbin went zero to hero in his latest campaign, pitching to two hundred innings for the second time in his career, as well as getting his second All-Star selection and ranking in the top ten in the league for both strikeouts and ERA. Corbin will be due for a nice payday by any team that is willing to put his down years behind him.
Prediction: 5yr/ $95 million
8. Wilson Ramos C / Philidelphia Phillies
In what is probably the thinnest position in baseball, Ramos is easily the best catcher that’s on the market this winter. He ventured to the east coast this season, playing ball for both the Rays and the Phillies, and was very productive. He played in 111 games this year to the tune of a batting average above .300 and had a solid 3.4 WAR. Ramos will be a sought-after free agent due to how thin the catcher position is but don’t expect him to have an eye-popping payday.
Prediction: 4yr/ $40 million
9. Dallas Keuchel SP / Houston Astros
Keuchel falls on the list due to how underwhelming his contract year has been. After signing with the Astros for another year for a bit above thirteen million this past off-season, the former ace turned in a 3.74 ERA, a half-decent WHIP of 1.3, and a disheartening 6.7 K/9. The strikeout numbers aren’t horrifying, considering Keuchel has never averaged more than 8.4 K/9, but this is his lowest mark since the 2014 season, and his lack of consistency over the past three seasons is cause for concern.
Prediction: 3yr/ $45 million
10. Nelson Cruz DH/OF / Seattle Mariners
Coming off back to back all-star seasons, “Boomstick” Cruz can be an important offensive provider for any team in the league. On the opposite end, though, he is essentially useless, if not detrimental, on defense. Cruz’s success will most likely come from being a designated hitter for an American League team, limiting his options.
Prediction: 2yr/ $23 million