This offseason promises to be fascinating.
Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are the top free agents on the market — both superstars and both only 26 years old — and rumors of their potential landing spots will not be in short supply. And you know there will be plenty of trades and trade whispers floating around.
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But equally as interesting, if not more so, is how this offseason unfolds. Last year, you remember, was unlike any offseason in recent memory. A couple of players signed early, but for the most part free agents stayed free until the start of spring training, or even later. Several very good players had to settle for one-year deals. The players were clearly caught off-guard by this development.
Will it happen again this offseason, or will signings — and the money accompanying those signings — be back at a more “normal” level this year? Nobody really knows.
Anyway, here’s a ranking of the 79 best free agents on the market this offseason. Why 79? Why not? It’s just as random as 50 or 100 or whatever number usually is attached to a list like this. We’ll update as signings happen, so check back often (if things are back to normal).
1. Bryce Harper, 26, OF
It’s hard to decide which element is more compelling: Where Bryce winds up or how much money he gets.
2. Manny Machado, 26, SS
Manny heard a few boos in the postseason, but don’t fool yourself: Every team wants a 26-year-old shortstop coming off a 37-homer, 5.7 bWAR season.
3. Patrick Corbin, 29, SP
A 29-year-old lefty coming off a season with 11.1 strikeouts per nine and a 2.47 FIP? The line is long, folks.
4. Josh Donaldson, 33, 3B
Maybe this is a bit high for a guy with injury issues the past couple of years, but he’s worth the risk on a short-term (if he’s betting on himself) or incentive-laden contract.
5. Nathan Eovaldi, 29, SP
Eovaldi isn’t just here because of his stellar World Series. He had similar dominant stretches in the regular season, and that type of triple-digit MPH late in starts is intoxicating. And like Corbin, he’s only 29.
6. Dallas Keuchel, 31, SP
Keuchel probably isn’t a No. 1 on a World Series contender at this point, but he’s as reliable as any free-agent starter on the market.
7. Craig Kimbrel, 30, RP
The 2018 campaign was far from his best season, but he still allowed just 4.5 hits per nine, struck out 13.9 per nine, saved 42 games and had a WHIP under 1.000.
8. Michael Brantley, 31, OF
After two years disrupted by injuries, Brantley came back and was the same reliable force he’s been his entire Cleveland career, when healthy. The fact that he’s not attached to a draft pick is a big bonus for his free-agent prospects.
9. A.J. Pollock, 31, CF
Very, very talented, but he’s played more than 113 games just twice in his six full big-league seasons. And he has draft-pick compensation attached. Will someone roll the dice?
10. Marwin González, 30, UT
Maybe this is a bit high for Gonzalez, but he can play pretty much any position with an above-average glove, and after a very slow start to 2018, he hit .285 with 10 homers and an .875 OPS in the season’s final two months.
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