2020 Top 50 Free Agents

Welcome to FanGraphs’ top-50 free-agent rankings. Dave Cameron had previously been responsible for this annual post; I took the reins last year. I’m back leading the charge again, with some assistance from my colleagues.

In what follows, I’ve provided contract estimates and rankings of the winter’s top free agents, along with market-focused breakdowns for the top-25 players. As for why I’ve provided commentary on only the top 25, you can decide for yourself whether it’s because my take on No. 49 Eric Sogard was too hot for the internet, or because all of the players just kind of seemed the same to me by that point. Meanwhile, a combination of Ben Clemens, Craig Edwards, Brendan Gawlowski, Jay Jaffe, Eric Longenhagen, Rachael McDaniel, and Dan Szymborski have supplied the more player-focused breakdowns, which are designed to provide some context for each player at this moment in his career.

Note that players are ranked in the order in which I prefer them, in terms of the overall guaranteed money I’d spend on them. Usually, this is very similar to the order of the overall contract values as both the crowd and I have projected. But in some instances, that’s not the case. I explain my rationale where relevant.

The main theme that I hit upon multiple times in my comments below is the continued evolution of free agency: how hard teams compete with one another in the market, how quickly players sign, the types of player helped or hurt by the changing landscape, and the methods agents use to position their clients, and the deals they eventually sign. If you’re interested in more notes and rumors, I’ll have a corresponding post up to that end shortly, but I didn’t want to make you scroll any further.

Now let’s get to the list.

– Kiley McDaniel

1. Gerrit Cole, SP, Age 29
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 7 $34.5 M $242.0 M
Median Crowdsource 7 $32.0 M $224.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 6.89 $31.7 M $218.4 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
200.0 6.9% 34.9% 41.9% 3.00 2.84 3.04 6.5 6.3

Kiley’s Take
Cole just wrapped up an insane two-year run with the Astros and is poised for a precedent-setting deal that agent Scott Boras has been anticipating for years. The industry belief is that he’ll get close to $250 million, with Zack Greinke’s six-year, $206.5 million contract at $34.4 million AAV the three numbers he’s looking to beat. Count on Boras to do something creative in terms of opt outs and escalators; my projection has him coming just short of $250 million, but he may get there with deferrals if besting that figure is his primary goal.

Player Notes
The Astros’ loss in the World Series means that Cole will not hit the trifecta of a championship, Cy Young award, and record-setting contract in the same year. While there are no guarantees he’ll get either of the last two, he wasted no time in donning a Team Boras cap in the aftermath of Game 7, a move that suggested his days in Houston are over and that he’ll give no quarter in seeking the largest-ever contract for a pitcher. He’s hitting the market at an optimal time given his 39.9% strikeout rate (a record for an ERA qualifier) and AL-leading 326 strikeouts, 2.50 ERA, 2.64 FIP and 7.4 WAR, not to mention his stellar postseason. It’s noteworthy that his average fastball velocity (97.1 mph via Statcast) is much higher than other hurlers in the $200 million-plus tier; he’s got more room to lose a couple of ticks as he ages. His California roots may make the Angels and Dodgers the favorites to sign him, but expect the Yankees (who drafted him out of high school), Phillies, and others to be involved as well. – JJ

2. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Age 30
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 7 $30.1 M $211.0 M
Median Crowdsource 7 $30.0 M $210.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 6.47 $29.6 M $191.4 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
645 11.8% 14.3% .288 .379 .516 .373 132 27.8 6.7 5.5

Kiley’s Take
Rendon has posted 6 or 7 WAR four times in his five full major league seasons. He’s posted more pre-free agency WAR than Bryce Harper or Manny Machado did, but is two years older than both because he went to Rice instead of signing out of high school. He’s looking at six or seven years and right around $200 million, but the exact details will come down to his priorities in terms of team, AAV, years, and total guarantee.

Player Notes
A year ago, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado were the best free agents on the market. Anthony Rendon is better than either. Rendon put up seven wins this season and over the last three years, only Mike Trout (25.2 WAR), Mookie Betts (22.4), and Christian Yelich (20.0) have posted more than Rendon’s 19.9 WAR. Despite being a good defender, his value is not tied to his fielding, with a 145 wRC+ over the last three seasons. Where Rendon has a disadvantage relative to Harper and Machado is his age. Last year’s pair were heading into their age-26 seasons while Rendon will play his new contract in his 30s save for the first few months of the 2020 campaign. The Rockies tacked on seven years and $234 million to lock up Nolan Arenado before he could hit free agency; Arenado is a year younger than Rendon, but it’s hard to look at the two third basemen and not see a lot of similarities. – CE

3. Stephen Strasburg, SP, Age 31
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 5 $30.0 M $150.0 M
Median Crowdsource 5 $28.0 M $140.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 5.42 $28.4 M $153.9 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
200.0 6.7% 27.3% 45.4% 3.72 3.65 3.73 4.3 4.3

Kiley’s Take
Strasburg seems likely to head back to the Nationals for something like five years and $150 million after opting out of the remaining four years and $100 million left on his deal over the weekend. He’s coming off a career year and a World Series MVP but will be 32 next summer, which will mark year 10 of having a replacement UCL in his right elbow after a 2010 Tommy John surgery. Going to six years is possible, but the Nationals may be the only team willing to do so.

Player Notes
Unless you’ve only discovered baseball within the last few days, you probably don’t need much Strasburg background. His 2019 average fastball velocity was the lowest of his career (94.3, down from 95.2, which was down from several years of 96) but actually climbed over the course of the season. His swinging strike rate on the heater, though, is up two percentage points, from 8% to 10%. Why? Better bat-missing locations, it seems, as Strasburg’s fastball locations have slowly crept toward the northern reaches of the strike zone and above.

All three of Strasburg, Gerrit Cole, and Anthony Rendon are represented by Scott Boras, and there’s probably a way to sequence the order in which they sign that maximizes the money they each get, especially Cole. Clayton Kershaw re-upped with the Dodgers for three years and $31 million as a 31-year-old coming off a year when he had some back issues. Strasburg’s not showing quite as much age, and should do better, setting a nice, high AAV bar for Cole. – EL

4. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Age 34
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 3 $23.5 M $71.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $20.0 M $60.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.69 $21.6 M $58.1 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
665 14.7% 23.9% .257 .371 .505 .368 129 24.5 1.2 4.7

Kiley’s Take
Last offseason, Donaldson took a one year deal on November 26 worth $23 million, the same figure he got in his last year of arbitration in 2018. After a 4.9 WAR platform year this season, he seems primed to get $23 million or so in AAV for multiple years, though he may be limited to a term of three since he’ll turn 34 in December.

Player Notes
Donaldson spent the 2019 season wiping out most of the injury-related misgivings generated by his 2017 and ‘18, hitting .259/.379/.521 in 155 games for a 132 wRC+. He also played solid defense at third and though he didn’t quite match his vintage performances of yore, Donaldson should do very well in free agency. His age will prevent him from getting an extremely lengthy contract, but he appears headed for a very lucrative two or three-year deal. Any contender needing a third baseman ought to be calling Donaldson. – DS

5. J.D. Martinez, OF, Age 32
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 3 $25.5 M $77.0 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $23.0 M $92.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.81 $22.6 M $86.3 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
648 10.6% 22.8% .301 .378 .575 .390 141 31.2 -17.4 3.6

Editor’s Note:
Jeff Passan reports that J.D. Martinez will not opt out of his deal.

Jon Heyman also reported the news, which was confirmed by the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Kiley’s Take
I prefer Grandal as a player since he’s younger and has a much greater margin for error, but am projecting Martinez for a bit more money since he would be opting out of three years and $62.5 million to hit free agency. With another opt out after 2020, he could also effectively opt in for a one year and $23.75 million before hitting the market again. He’ll only opt out if he had very good reason to believe that there was at least $70 million out there for him.

Player Notes
Martinez was very good in 2019; his .304/.383/.557 line, 139 wRC+, and 36 home runs all cracked the AL’s top 10. Nonetheless, that performance represented a significant step down from his .319/.391/.655 showing in 2017-18, one in which his slugging percentage led baseball, his 169 wRC+ trailed only Mike Trout, and his 88 homers ranked third. Not only did he not hit the ball quite as hard in 2019 — his exit velocity dipped from 93.0 to 91.3, while his xwOBA dropped from .421 to .401 — he did far less damage against four-seam fastballs 95 mph or higher; over the past three seasons, his xwOBA against such pitches has dropped from .505 to .473 to .351, while his xwOBA against all four-seamers has fallen from .535 to .476 to .419. Between the suggestion that his bat is slowing down as he moves into his mid-30s and his defensive liabilities (-15.1 UZR and -17 DRS over the past three seasons), he could find the market less hospitable than his last time around. – JJ

6. Yasmani Grandal, C, Age 31
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 4 $17.5 M $70.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $16.0 M $48.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.46 $18.4 M $63.5 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
580 14.6% 23.5% .244 .358 .460 .348 115 8.3 7.0 4.8

Kiley’s Take
If you haven’t looked, you may not believe it: Grandal has posted five straight seasons of 4 or 5 WAR. In a catching landscape that increasingly looks like a Mad Max film, the backstop keeps performing, though I’m sure his fingers are crossed that robo umps are still a ways off given his +134 runs career framing figure. He reportedly turned down four years and $60 million from the Mets last offseason because a $15 million AAV wasn’t the precedent he wanted to set, then had to settle for one year and $18.25 million from Milwaukee (just above the qualifying offer he turned down). He seems likely to get at least the Mets’ offer again given his 5.2 WAR season, and I’m betting his deal comes in at a bit more.

Player Notes
Grandal was a top-10 free agent on our list last year, and a fat lot of good it did him, as he wound up inking just a one-year contract for barely more money than Los Angeles’ qualifying offer. Grandal declined his 2020 option with Milwaukee and hits the market again this winter in much the same place he was last year.

As was the case last season, Grandal is coming off of a productive campaign, one in which he combined good defense with a 120 wRC+ and good power for the position. A four-win player or better five years running, Grandal is as consistent as they come and you’d have to think that his second run through the market will fare better than the first. One potential X-factor in his favor: He didn’t have a rough postseason in 2019. Two Octobers ago, he struggled with his receiving and lost playing time as the Dodgers advanced through the playoffs. It was perhaps a small matter, but nonetheless, the final impression he gave potential suitors was not a positive one. Without that baggage this time around, he should get the multi-year deal he’s seeking. – BG

7. Marcell Ozuna, LF/RF, Age 29
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 4 $17.5 M $70.0 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $16.0 M $64.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 4.01 $16.6 M $66.6 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
640 9.2% 20.7% .276 .344 .503 .353 119 15.9 -5.5 3.1

Kiley’s Take
Ozuna is still in his 20s and posted a 5.0 WAR season in 2017, with another 5.4 WAR from 2018-19. He posted +21 DRS and +12.8 UZR from 2017-19 as a primary corner outfielder with positive numbers each year, though teams perceived his 2019 defense to be below average (StatCast agrees). The carrying ability here is another thing that StatCast seems to view in much the same way front offices do: the growth potential with Ozuna’s strong exit velos. Everybody knows those things now, but clubs that believe their hitting coach can coax more loft and performance out of Ozuna’s bat will see a four-year deal as reasonable, and all the better if they can get his actual defense to match what UZR and DRS are seeing.

Player Notes
When compared with his breakout, five-win, 37 homer 2017 campaign, Marcell Ozuna’s two seasons in St. Louis seem like a disappointment. An average of 26 homers, a 108 wRC+, mediocre defense, and 2.6 WAR per year with the Cardinals is decent, but it’s not good. Ozuna does have one more year in his 20s, and there are a few reasons to think he might improve over his performance the last few seasons. St. Louis is a tough park to hit homers in for right-handed batters, and a new home might unleash a little more power. Ozuna’s also been a bit unlucky: Of the 114 batters with at least 1,000 plate appearances over the last two seasons, the 38-point gap between his .369 xwOBA and his .331 wOBA is the biggest one in baseball, while by exit velocity and launch angle, he’s been one of the best 20 hitters in the game. – CE

8. Madison Bumgarner, SP, Age 30
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 4 $16.0 M $64.0 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $18.0 M $72.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 4.12 $18.2 M $75.2 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
190.0 6.2% 21.8% 38.1% 4.64 4.67 4.75 2.1 2.3

Kiley’s Take
Bumgarner isn’t who he once was. He’ll give you a bunch of innings and an ERA around 4.00, though he’s perceived to be a level above Keuchel because his velo is now up to 90-93 mph, giving him a margin for error across the board. His past playoff performance and general makeup are seen as nice separators in a crowded starting pitching marketplace.

Player Notes
After two injury-shortened seasons, Bumgarner was back to being his workhorse self, throwing more innings than all but eight other pitchers, five of whom were clustered within four outs of each other. His run prevention was solid but not stellar; his 93 ERA- (on a 3.90 mark) was the highest of his career, though his 93 FIP- was his best mark since 2016. So, too, were both his strikeout and walk rates (24.1% and 5.1%, respectively), though his home run rate (1.30 per nine) was the second-worst of his career, aided to some degree by a career-high fly ball rate (41.6%) and career-low groundball rate (35.8%), neither of which have any obvious basis in changes to either his repertoire or velocity. He did get batters to chase curveballs outside the zone — particularly below it — with greater frequency (43.8%) than in any full season of his career, which helped bolster his otherwise-waning groundball rate. That reduced rate is worth bearing in mind if he moves to a less pitcher-friendly ballpark, particularly considering that he was touched for a 5.29 ERA, 4.51 FIP, and 1.59 HR/9 on the road in 2019. – JJ

9. Zack Wheeler, SP, Age 30
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 4 $17.0 M $68.0 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $18.0 M $72.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 4.22 $18.3 M $77.2 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
191.0 6.8% 22.7% 43.0% 4.27 4.24 4.38 3.1 3.0

Kiley’s Take
Wheeler was notably too high on this list for some and too low for others, either because he isn’t seen as a frontline type or because his 2018-19 performance and the fact that he’ll open 2020 in his 20s is too much to ignore. It’s probably either three or four years, depending on how the starting pitching market comes together, in the $15-20 million AAV range.

Player Notes
Tell someone in 2013 that Zack Wheeler would be a prized free agent in 2019, and they’d be shocked — didn’t the Mets extend their ace? Tell someone in 2017 that Zack Wheeler would be a prized free agent in 2019, and they’d be shocked — didn’t injuries ruin him? But here we are in 2019, and Zack Wheeler is a prized free agent. His last two years have been both consistent and effective: more than 180 innings, a FIP- in the low 80s, and strikeout and walk numbers better than league average. His raw run prevention numbers are flattered by pitcher-friendly Citi Field, but even accounting for that, he’s been worth 8.9 WAR and 7.1 RA9-WAR over that stretch. That places him ninth among all starters (23rd in RA9-WAR), between Charlie Morton and Aaron Nola. Of course, injury concerns are never far away with Wheeler — he missed time with shoulder fatigue in July — but when he’s healthy, his arsenal (a high-90s fastball, a low-90s slider) and results resemble a slightly lower-end Jacob deGrom’s. If any pitcher on this list out-produces Cole and Strasburg next year, I think it’s likely Wheeler (though he’s still not that likely to do it). – BC

10. Didi Gregorius, SS, Age 30
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 3 $16.0 M $48.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $15.0 M $45.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.17 $15.3 M $48.7 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
595 5.9% 13.9% .264 .313 .450 .319 96 -1.1 7.1 2.5

Kiley’s Take
Gregorius fits today’s game with size, contact skills, and power at a premium position. His October 2018 Tommy John surgery ate into the first half of 2019, and the combination of greater exit velocity and a higher launch angle led to a career-high rate of barrels, but also more strikeouts, fewer walks, and a .237 BABIP that xwOBA suggests was actually a bit lucky. There are a lot of elements for success here, but enough recent bumps in the road to temper enthusiasm.

Player Notes
Gregorius’s .276 on-base percentage was the worst of his career and he missed the first three months due to Tommy John surgery, but entering his age-30 season, he remains young enough to not be overly concerned about his 2019 performance. There are surprisingly few contending teams with a need at shortstop at the moment, but if Gregorius doesn’t return to the Yankees, a pair of NL Central squads with October ambition, the Brewers and the Reds, would be smart to take interest. – DS

11. Nick Castellanos, RF/LF, Age 28
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 4 $14.0 M $56.0 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $14.0 M $56.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.71 $14.2 M $52.4 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
608 7.0% 22.5% .275 .331 .489 .342 111 8.7 -15.4 1.4

Kiley’s Take
Castellanos is very young for a free agent bat, so he may get a longer-term deal than his track record would suggest. Still, he’s posted a -28 DRS and -17.6 UZR in two full seasons as a corner outfielder, and if teams think that is his true talent level in the field, they may not be comfortable with whatever his glove will be in 2023.

Player Notes
You won’t see teams paying Castellanos big money for his .321/.356/.646 line with the Cubs, but his late-season resurgence in Chicago after a bland half-year in Detroit helped to re-establish his offensive value. The difference between a 120-plus wRC+ and a 110 wRC+ for a player with glove as weak as Castellanos’ is the difference between a DH-only role and being someone whose bat may be just enough to compensate for his poor defense if put in the right situation. Baseball doesn’t have much appetite for non-star, corner outfielders or first basemen these days, but Castellanos’ case is helped by his signing not coming with the loss of a draft pick. – DS

12. Dallas Keuchel, SP, Age 32
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 3 $15.0 M $45.0 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $17.6 M $70.4 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.97 $15.1 M $44.7 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
191.0 7.5% 17.6% 56.5% 4.20 4.30 4.24 2.7 2.9

Kiley’s Take
With an 87-90 mph sinker, Keuchel is the opposite of what most teams are trying to do right now, relying on velocity and pitching up in the zone. He’s been durable and is probably going to post a couple more years of 2-point-something WAR as an innings-eating fourth starter for a contending club.

Player Notes
Another returner from last winter’s frosty free agent market, Keuchel held out all the way into June before signing a one-year deal with Atlanta. As a pillow contract, Keuchel’s 2019 performance probably didn’t change the calculus in his quest for a long-term deal. His run prevention numbers barely budged from 2018, though they were accompanied by modest improvements in his strikeout and groundball ratios. But even after factoring in the new environment, the southpaw was unusually homer prone and his BB/9 crept to the wrong side of 3.0. Rust probably wasn’t a huge factor — he actually started out pretty well before dipping mid-summer — so there isn’t much reason to think he’s any better positioned for the payday he wanted last winter. That doesn’t mean he won’t get a multi-year deal; it just won’t be anywhere near his initial hopes and dreams. – BG

13. Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, Age 33
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 2 $16.0 M $32.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $16.0 M $48.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.12 $19.0 M $59.3 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
180.0 5.6% 21.4% 47.9% 4.05 4.08 4.11 3.1 3.2

Kiley’s Take
Ryu had a huge platform year playing on a qualifying offer this season, but his durability history is spotty and he’ll be 33 in 2020. He’ll likely get two or three years at roughly the qualifying offer rate once again.

Player Notes
After being limited to 15 starts in 2018 due to a severe groin strain, the portly port-sider pitched enough innings to qualify for the ERA title for the first time since his 2013 rookie campaign. He didn’t just qualify, he led the NL with a 2.32 mark despite fading late. Through July, he posted a 1.53 ERA and 2.85 FIP, but that ballooned to 4.60 and 3.83 over the final two months, with a 10-day IL stint for neck soreness thrown in. Ryu’s success isn’t quite as enigmatic or unorthodox as his process, which includes rarely throwing bullpens between starts. Via a five-pitch arsenal, with his changeup the real star, he’s exceptional at limiting hard contact; his average exit velocity of 85.3 mph ranked in the 96th percentile, his .282 xwOBA in the 81st. His strikeout rate was a modest 22.5%, but he walked an NL-low 3.3%, so his 19.2% K-BB% ranked 12th, and his 3.10 FIP fourth. After accepting a qualifying offer last fall, he’s well-positioned for a multi-year deal despite the questions about his durability. – JJ

14. Mike Moustakas, 3B, Age 31
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 2 $16.0 M $32.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $12.0 M $36.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.53 $12.9 M $32.6 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
630 8.1% 17.3% .260 .325 .499 .340 110 6.4 0.8 2.8

Kiley’s Take
Moustakas has had two straight hard-luck winters that lead to below-market, one-year deals. It seems like that should end this year?

Player Notes
After declining the $10 million mutual option on his contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, Moustakas hits the free agent market for the third straight offseason in the best position yet to secure a favorable contract. Despite falling off as a hitter in the second half of the season — a 124 wRC+ in the first half turned to a 95 wRC+ after the All-Star break, possibly due to a lingering wrist injury — he finished the year grading out positively both at the plate and in the field, and remains one of the best third-base options available. – RM

15. Kyle Gibson, SP, Age 32
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 3 $15.0 M $45.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.28 $9.8 M $22.3 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
174.0 8.3% 22.2% 52.4% 4.04 4.11 4.05 3.0 3.1

Kiley’s Take
It’ll surely hurt the Division Champion Twins to lose 9.6 WAR and 60% of their rotation with Gibson, Odorizzi, and Pineda hitting free agency. Gibson was the player with the most helium amongst team-side analyst-types consulted for the first iteration of this list. Some have him over Keuchel, in part because his 92-95 mph heater gives more margin for error in games, in projecting his future, and in projecting a role in a playoff rotation. His ERA indicators suggest he’s a sub-4 ERA type and he’s made 25-plus starts six years in a row. Gibson seems like a solid candidate for a sneaky big and/or early deal from a club confident he offers the best value among the 10 or so starters with a solid chance at a multi-year contract.

Player Notes
Gibson has grown from his humble origins as a sinker-balling, groundball specialist to a guy who struck out more than a batter per inning last year. He’s still kept the grounders, mind you, which makes him interesting even as he’s gotten a little too homer-prone for comfort. Through it all, he’s about as valuable as he was on the other side: He’s still a durable if somewhat inefficient 2-3 WAR pitcher who reliably takes the ball every fifth day. Given the markets we’ve seen the last few winters, it’s tough to forecast what Gibson will command this offseason, but he seems like the kind of middle class free agent who hasn’t fared well in the recent harsher climate. – BG

16. Will Smith, RP, Age 30
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 3 $12.0 M $36.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $10.0 M $30.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.02 $10.0 M $30.1 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
62.0 8.9% 30.4% 40.9% 3.55 3.60 3.78 0.7 0.9

Kiley’s Take
The best reliever on this year’s market, Smith is still just 30, left-handed, and offered quality and bulk the last two years. I’m projecting three years, but could see a team going to four, with an eight figure AAV. Big Willie’s style is slider-heavy from the left side, but with him still throwing 92-94 mph, he’s a decent bet to stay effective into his mid-30s, or the next Willennium.

Player Notes
After being, if not a bad boy, then certainly a middling boy for the first few years of his career, Will Smith was able to focus, put six degrees of separation between himself and his earlier struggles, and embark on an Ali-like run of greatness in 2019, when he was the best pitcher in baseball by WPA. Luckily for him, this year marks his independence day, and he’ll be able to hitch his wagon to whichever team most interests him. Will his pursuit of happyness keep him in the wild wild west, with the Dodgers? Will he see the collateral beauty of playing in Miami or Tampa Bay, the two teams in his home state of Florida? Or will he elect to be an enemy of the state of Massachusetts by becoming one of the men in black(ish) pinstripes in the Yankees’ bullpen? Whichever team secures his John Hancock hopes his future will be bright, rather than a return to being a bad boy for life. And his future should be bright! He’s put up three straight solid years and is only 30. – BC

17. Jake Odorizzi, SP, Age 30
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 3 $13.0 M $39.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $15.0 M $45.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.29 $15.1 M $49.6 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
167.0 8.3% 25.7% 35.3% 4.29 4.36 4.60 2.5 2.6

Kiley’s Take
Odorizzi picked the right time to have a career year. He’s outperformed his xFIP five years in a row and has pitched at least 140 innings for six while his velo jumped almost two ticks this year. A three-year deal seems most likely, at around $40 million.

Player Notes
The soon-to-be 30-year-old right-hander just put up a very impressive season with the Twins. His FIP and ERA were both in the mid-threes and his 4.3 WAR ranked 20th among pitchers. Odorizzi’s velocity bumped up a couple ticks (he averaged 93 mph on his fastball), and with it came a four percentage point jump in strikeouts (to 27%) to go along with a drop in walk rate. Odorizzi is not an innings horse, with just two of his 2019 starts going beyond six innings and 20 of 30 starts coming in under six. He also had a few minor injuries, though none were arm-related, with an IL stint due to a blister and hamstring issues toward the end of the season. Still, Odorizzi worked specifically to increase his velocity, and if the changes he made this year are lasting, he should remain a good starter even if he can’t go deep into games. – CE

18. Yasiel Puig, RF/LF, Age 29
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 3 $13.0 M $39.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $12.8 M $38.3 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.01 $13.0 M $39.1 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
582 8.7% 20.6% .267 .335 .478 .340 110 6.9 -7.3 1.9

Kiley’s Take
Since he’s still in his 20s and his antics have mellowed a bit, teams can now see a safe-ish, lower-risk free agent bet on Puig making sense. Statistically, he was two different players for the Indians and Reds last year, but his underlying stats don’t suggest he’s a prime candidate to break out. He’ll likely get two or three years with a low eight-figure AAV, but is probably just a 1.5-to-2.0 WAR player now.

Player Notes
Yasiel Puig isn’t the best outfielder on the market. He might be the highest-volatility one, though, and he’s certainly one of the most fun to watch. A power outage in power-friendly 2019 is worrisome (his ISO dropped by 36 points while the league’s went up by 22), but teams will surely be excited to see that his performance ticked up as the year went on. After a disastrous start during which he swung far too much, he reined in his aggression and from June 1 on (roughly when his swing rate returned to normal), recorded a 120 wRC+, playing at a 2.6 WAR/600 pace. Is it bad analysis to slice up a season into even smaller samples? Quite possibly! But Puig looked like he was pressing to start the season in his new city, and he’s been at his best over his career when he’s harnessed his aggression by swinging less and with greater purpose. The power didn’t come back even as his results picked up, but that feels like nitpicking. Want a guaranteed 2 WAR? Keep looking. Want offense, highlights, and hijinks? Puig’s your guy. – BC

19. Cole Hamels, SP, Age 36
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 2 $14.0 M $28.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $15.0 M $30.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.93 $14.6 M $28.2 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
164.0 8.4% 21.7% 46.1% 4.50 4.52 4.56 2.1 2.0

Kiley’s Take
Hamels is now an older, reliable mid-rotation type who’s good enough to land a two-year deal and eat regular season innings.

Player Notes
The sun has yet to totally set on Hamels and his Changeup of the Century. It’s probably twilight, though. He’s pitched like a No. 4 starter each of the last three seasons. He’ll be 36 in December and after nine consecutive seasons of at least 30 starts, Hamels has dealt with oblique issues in two of the last three years and was shut down due to shoulder fatigue late in 2019.

He returned from the shoulder issue to make one start at the end of September, and he dominated, striking out eight Cardinals in just four shutout innings, allowing two hits and walking none. His velo was up in that start, a tick better than it had been during the month-long stretch between when he returned from the oblique issue and was shut down because of the shoulder.

It was still down from the Hamels that somehow sat 92-93 and touched 95 in April and May, but fluctuations in fastball velocity have plagued him for so long that in this instance it’s not a guaranteed sign of aging so much as evidence that this is Cole Hamels. He still has the ability to throw that enticing changeup in any count and to alter his fastball shape (cut, sink, ride) and offset some of what he’s lost in raw heat, and his shapely curveball is fine to dump in situationally. This is a backend starter, but a good one. – EL

20. Michael Pineda, SP, Age 31
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $16.0 M $16.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $11.0 M $22.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.15 $11.1 M $23.8 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
138.0 5.8% 22.9% 43.5% 4.34 4.26 4.23 2.1 2.1

Kiley’s Take
Pineda took a step forward in his age-30 season that also marked his return from Tommy John surgery, but it was cut short by a 60-game suspension for taking a banned substance. This likely means he gets a one-year, make-good deal with incentives and possibly an option. He’s a prime target for smaller-payroll clubs or ones dipping their toes into free agency, since he brings clear 3-plus WAR upside for $10-15 million and just one year. When a GM who doesn’t have much money to spend says he wants to add a frontline starter, just know he hopes to land Pineda and convince his fanbase that this is the answer to their prayers.

Player Notes
For much of the 2019 season, Michael Pineda seemed primed to enter free agency in a relatively strong position. Coming off a full season lost to Tommy John surgery, the 30-year-old performed consistently for the unexpected division-champion Twins, with a 4.01 ERA and 4.02 FIP in 146 innings pitched over 26 starts in 2019. But on September 7, Pineda was suspended for 60 games for a violation of MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, eliminating him from the Twins’ postseason plans; the suspension will extend into the beginning of the 2020 season. The violation in question was a drug called hydrochlorothiazide, which, while not a performance-enhancer, is often used as a masking agent for anabolic steroids. Pineda was able to convince an independent arbitrator that he hadn’t knowingly used the drug as a masking agent, but the lateness of the suspension in the season rendered that an essentially moot point. – RM

21. Brett Gardner, CF/LF, Age 36
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $13.0 M $13.0 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $8.0 M $8.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.45 $8.8 M $12.7 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
569 9.8% 19.4% .248 .328 .415 .318 96 -0.5 -1.3 1.7

Kiley’s Take
Gardner has the recent WAR figures (4.0, 2.6, 3.6) to garner a two-year deal in a vacuum even at age 36, but he took a pay cut last year, so the projection here is balancing the outcomes of being a pricey role player on a one-year deal for the Yankees with the chance he chases guaranteed money elsewhere.

Player Notes
The lone position player remaining from the Yankees’ 2009 championship team, Gardner took a pay cut to return to the Bronx in anticipation of a reduced role. Due to the team’s myriad injuries, he wound up playing more outfield than any other Yankee, placing third on the team in plate appearances (550) and setting career highs in homers (28), slugging percentage (.503), and wRC+ (115) — in part because he hit the ball in the air with consistency, setting a career high with a 38.2% fly ball rate. Defensively, he played more innings in center field (920) than any year since 2013, and was plenty competent (1.7 UZR, -2 DRS) while remaining a standout in left (1.3 UZR and 7 DRS in 348.1 innings). His 3.6 WAR leaves no doubt of his utility even as he ages, and given Aaron Hicks‘ Tommy John surgery, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him remain in pinstripes. – JJ

22. Dellin Betances, RP, Age 32
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $12.0 M $12.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $9.0 M $18.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.99 $9.3 M $18.5 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
50.0 10.4% 33.1% 47.0% 3.24 3.23 3.38 0.8 0.8

Kiley’s Take
When healthy, Betances fits in the top-tier reliever bin, one of the player groups to actually do well by the recent shifts in the free agent market. But the fact that he’s listed at 6-foot-8 and 265 pounds, is on the wrong side of 30, and will be coming off of an Achilles tear makes him very dangerous on a multi-year contract. Most sources suggested an eight-figure AAV, incentive-laden deal, ideally with an option for the club that ends up with him.

Player Notes
From 2014 to 2018, Dellin Betances averaged 2.25 WAR per season (whether you prefer FIP or RA9), outstanding for a reliever. Then he didn’t pitch until September of 2019, sidelined by shoulder injuries. Unfortunately, his only appearance this season ended in tragedy, as he partially tore his Achilles while leaving the mound after a two-batter stint. The injury won’t require surgery, but it will sideline him for an unknown amount of time, and his velocity was understandably down in that lone appearance, which is just another risk factor in a pitching profile full of them. An incentive-laden, short-term contract seems most likely at this point, because that gives both sides what they want: Betances secures another chance at free agency after re-establishing his value, and the team that signs him gets a chance of their small initial outlay netting one of the best relievers in baseball at a reasonable cost if he’s healthy. – BC

23. Will Harris, RP, Age 35
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $7.0 M $14.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.81 $7.2 M $13.0 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
62.0 7.3% 24.5% 51.0% 3.70 3.67 3.76 0.7 0.7

Kiley’s Take
Harris is as steady as they come, with a 2.77-3.04 xFIP each of the last four seasons, and at least 45 innings in each year. He’s 35, which will limit the upside, but he seems likely to garner a two-year deal with a high-seven or low-eight-figure AAV.

Player Notes
Harris has never had an extended run as a closer, but he’s a similar caliber as his compatriots who normally take the ball in the ninth. From a run suppression perspective, 2019 was the best year of his career, and he again struck out more than a batter per inning while limiting damage on contact. He’s no one-year wonder either: over the last five seasons, he’s posted a sub-3 FIP while running a 175 ERA+. Relievers are the one positional group that has done pretty well on the market in recent years, so even though Harris is 35, his history of steady production suggests he’ll have a few compelling offers to sort through. – BG

24. Drew Pomeranz, RP/SP, Age 31
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $6.0 M $12.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.99 $5.8 M $11.6 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
60.0 9.0% 29.2% 41.9% 3.68 3.76 3.89 0.6 0.8

Kiley’s Take
Pomeranz’s roller coaster career has him back in the “players with value” category once again. In 2019, he had a 4.72 xFIP as a starter (75.1) and 1.67 xFIP as a reliever (28.2), which partially obscures how good he was as a reliever in the second half. A multi-year deal is likely and he’s a candidate to be a surprise overpay relative to the projections above.

Player Notes
After a poor showing in 2018 with the Red Sox, Pomeranz took a flyer on a one-year contract with the non-contending Giants this season. He didn’t fare much better in San Francisco — a 5.68 ERA and 5.24 FIP in 77 and two-thirds innings, primarily as a starter — but the beleaguered Brewers, in search of pitching depth, traded for him at the deadline. Pomeranz made 25 appearances for Milwaukee, all but one of which was in relief. And in that role, he thrived, with a 2.39 ERA and 2.68 FIP, striking out 45% of batters he faced. He finished the year with positive value, something that would have seemed unlikely after the first half of the season, and could make a valuable addition to bullpens in search of quality left-handers. – RM

25. Edwin Encarnación, 1B/3B/DH, Age 37
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $11.0 M $11.0 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $14.0 M $14.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.44 $14.0 M $20.1 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
579 11.9% 22.5% .247 .344 .494 .350 117 10.2 -14.9 1.4

Kiley’s Take
A 37-year-old DH is exactly that kind of player who has been hit the hardest in free agency by more risk-averse teams, but there are some parallels to Nelson Cruz from last winter here. Cruz had a superior recent track record and got one year and $14 million for his age-38 season; the Twins recently picked up his $12 million 2020 option. Encarnación should get a similar deal, for a bit less.

Player Notes
Encarnación enters the winter with a strong record of recent performance: He doesn’t look like the 150 wRC+ guy we saw early in his Blue Jays tenure, but he’s only a tier or so below that at the plate. Whether he gets paid like a middle of the order bat is another matter. Fairly or not, his mediocre 2018 numbers and injury-plagued New York stint won’t help in what will likely be another bear market, particularly given his age and positional limitations. He deserves eight figures anyway, but there are fewer AL contenders in need of help at DH than you’d think. – BG

26. Howie Kendrick, 2B/1B/3B, Age 36
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 2 $7.0 M $14.0 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $7.0 M $7.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.48 $7.1 M $10.6 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
407 7.0% 16.1% .299 .354 .479 .351 117 8.3 -8.1 1.4

Player Notes
So what does a guy do after he hits a seventh-inning homer to give his team the lead in Game 7 of the World Series? If you’re Howie Kendrick, you cash in. The downsides to Kendrick are pretty clear. He’s now 36 years old, and the postseason exposed some of his liabilities in the field. He’s had a bit of trouble staying healthy, and probably isn’t someone to rely on every day. But the positives are also obvious. He can hit. In 370 plate appearances, Kendrick put up a 146 wRC+, and this came after two other above-average seasons with the bat. His strikeout rate dipped down to 13% last season, making him a tough out. He is…a professional hitter. And he hits both lefties and righties well, so he doesn’t need to be on the weak side of a platoon, though he could probably fit as a designated hitter, playing two out of every three games with the occasional start in the field. – CE

27. Travis d’Arnaud, C, Age 31
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 2 $7.0 M $14.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $5.0 M $10.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.89 $5.5 M $10.5 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
390 7.5% 20.2% .256 .316 .444 .320 97 -1.9 4.9 1.8

Player Notes
What you think of Travis d’Arnaud’s free agency is entirely a matter of perspective. Is he the player who the Mets released in May? Is he the cleanup hitter for a playoff team? Both are true, but neither paints a complete picture. It goes beyond this year, too: is he the former top prospect who compiled 6.2 WAR in roughly 700 PA in 2014 and 2015, or the injury-prone journeyman who totaled 2.4 WAR in a similar amount of time over the next three seasons, losing his job to a carousel of middling backstops in the process? Again, the truth lies somewhere between these two extremes. Put it all together, and d’Arnaud projects as a roughly average player, and average catchers entering their age 31 seasons aren’t typically in high demand. There’s still a whiff of pedigree to him, however, even after his inconsistent career thus far, and plenty of playoff hopefuls could use an average catcher, which means d’Arnaud will likely have his pick of destinations on a small-ish contract. – BC

28. Tanner Roark, SP, Age 33
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $10.0 M $10.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.02 $9.6 M $19.4 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
174.0 7.2% 19.8% 41.8% 4.89 4.88 4.92 1.6 1.5

Player Notes
Roark’s early years were defined by a substantial gap between his already-good peripherals and much lower run prevention figures. Through some combination of natural regression and the changing aerodynamic properties of the baseball, those numbers eventually converged and Roark settled in as a mid-rotation starter by most metrics. 2019 was a return to his early-career habit — but this time only because the peripherals were bad, particularly down the stretch with Oakland, where he allowed 14 homers in just 55 innings. The overall body of work suggests he’s still a No. 3 or 4 starter, and without a qualifying offer attached to him, he stands a better chance to get a multi-year deal than some in his cohort. – BG

29. Adam Wainwright, SP, Age 38
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $10.0 M $10.0 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $8.0 M $8.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.12 $8.1 M $9.1 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
163.0 8.2% 19.5% 46.8% 4.68 4.69 4.71 1.6 1.8

Player Notes
Heading into last offseason, Adam Wainwright couldn’t have been thrilled to find himself at a point in his career where he had to accept a contract with a low guaranteed salary and a ton of incentives based on games started, but he looks to be in much better shape after meeting those incentives in 2019. The 38-year-old started 30 games and put up a league average FIP and ERA. He was even better in the postseason, with 19 strikeouts in 16 and two-thirds innings to go along with just three walks and three runs. His fastball sits at just 90 mph, but heavy use of his signature curve keeps hitters off balance. It’s difficult to envision Wainwright and the Cardinals separating after 15 seasons, and after the year he just had, his guarantee should be a bit higher than the $2 million he got last winter. – CE

30. Avisaíl García, RF/LF, Age 29
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $10.0 M $10.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $6.8 M $13.5 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.18 $7.1 M $15.5 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
559 6.4% 23.4% .272 .327 .463 .331 104 2.2 -9.3 1.2

Player Notes
It wasn’t anywhere near the level of his .330/.380/.506, 4.2 WAR shocker in 2017, but Avisaíl García was…fine in 2019, serving as a reasonable stopgap for the Rays. Expecting anything more than that in the future is probably a stretch; García’s most useful on a contender with a gaping wound in an outfield corner, less so for a would-be contender with ambition. One bit of good news is that unlike during his early days as a prospect, when he was oddly compared to Miguel Cabrera, García is good enough defensively that he’s not limited to being a designated hitter. – DS

31. Rick Porcello, SP, Age 31
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 2 $9.0 M $18.0 M
Median Crowdsource 3 $12.0 M $36.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.47 $11.7 M $29.0 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
182.0 6.1% 19.8% 41.8% 4.85 4.79 4.78 1.9 1.7

Player Notes
Bonus baby prospect! A debut at 19! Three years of floundering numbers. A partial rejuvenation. A trade to the Red Sox. A big extension! The worst year of his career. A Cy Young award! A World Series ring! The worst ERA and second-worst FIP of his career.

Thirty years old now, Porcello hits the open market for the first time, and what a strange ride he took to get here. His 2019 was undoubtedly a disappointment, but the open question is whether his history helps to overcome that. Prospective teams have tough questions to ask themselves here: Is there any chance you get the Cy Young version of Porcello? Or at least the guy who has already notched 28 career WAR? Or are you getting the other Porcello, the one who has spent far too much of his career clinging to his spot in a big league rotation? Are they the same guy? Does anybody know anything about this sport, and can they really prove it? Has anyone ever been a better fit for a one-year, incentive-laden contract? – BG

32. Wade Miley, SP, Age 33
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $9.0 M $9.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.7 $6.9 M $11.7 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
147.0 8.6% 18.5% 50.3% 4.54 4.64 4.67 1.6 1.8

Player Notes
On the morning of August 10, Wade Miley was 11-4 with a 2.99 ERA and was the third-best fourth starter in the majors by WAR behind Kenta Maeda and Jon Lester. Two months later, he had a 3.98 ERA and was left off the Astros’ playoff roster. After putting up just one quality start in his final nine, Miley suddenly became a lot riskier of a pick up, though still a worthwhile one if a team can figure out (and fix) what bedeviled him at the end of the summer. – DS

33. Brock Holt, 2B/3B/OF, Age 32
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 2 $7.5 M $15.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $4.0 M $8.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.65 $4.5 M $7.4 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
408 9.7% 20.9% .249 .331 .365 .303 86 -7.9 0.9 0.7

Player Notes
Though Holt continues to show precious little in the way of power, improved on-base ability and a high BABIP led him to a second straight season with an above-average overall performance at the plate. Holt saw play at all non-pitcher fielding positions except catcher and center field, and though he’s not an exceptional defender at any of those positions, there’s something to be said for a guy with that level of versatility, especially if he can continue to perform passably at the plate. As in seasons past, though, Holt saw his playing time in Boston limited by injury in 2019, which remains an ongoing concern. – RM

34. Jason Castro, C, Age 33
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 2 $6.0 M $12.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $6.0 M $12.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.69 $6.4 M $10.8 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
323 11.1% 30.6% .222 .316 .396 .307 88 -5.9 8.0 1.7

Player Notes
In the final year of his three-year contract with the Twins, and coming off an injury-marred 2019, Castro’s 3.2 FRM doesn’t come close to the peak value he’s shown as a pitch-framer in years past. But he did display a capability this season that he’s only shown once before in his major-league career: an above-average performance at the plate. Swing changes that resulted in improved quality of contact led the historically light-hitting Castro to a 103 wRC+ this season, and he continues to be a solid option as a backstop. – RM

35. Chris Martin, RP, Age 34
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 2 $6.0 M $12.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $4.5 M $9.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.58 $4.8 M $7.7 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
60.0 5.6% 26.7% 47.1% 3.53 3.45 3.56 0.8 0.8

Player Notes
Chris Martin’s unfortunately-timed oblique injury changed the Braves’ postseason relief setup and kept Max Fried out of the rotation. The 33-year-old Martin had become a fixture in the pen for Atlanta after a trade from the Rangers at the deadline. The righty’s season totals were solid, with a 30% strikeout rate and just five walks in 55 and a third innings. Though he goes with his 96 mph fastball nearly half the time, he actually mixes in four other pitches with some regularity. Assuming the injury is behind him and that he can replicate his 2019 season, Martin will be a solid bullpen piece for some team next season. – CE

36. Josh Lindblom, SP, Age 33
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $4.3 M $8.5 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.08 $5.3 M $11.0 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
139.0 7.2% 17.1% 38.6% 5.41 5.46 5.44 0.5 0.5

Player Notes
An unsigned Astros third rounder in 2005, Lindblom has gone from being Purdue’s closer to a fast-tracked Dodgers prospect to being twice-traded for former All Stars (Shane Victorino and Michael Young) in a six-month span before kicking around waivers (Texas, Oakland, Pittsburgh) and Korea (Lotte Giants) for a couple of years, coming back to MLB (Pittsburgh, again), and then heading back to Korea (Doosan Bears) for what have been the two best seasons of his career.

Lindblom won the 2018 Choi Dong-Won award, the KBO’s equivalent of the Cy Young, then led the league in innings (194) and posted a .997 WHIP during the Doosan Bears’ 2019 championship run (Doosan has won three of the last five KBO titles).

Now 32, Lindblom is coming off of a one-year, $1.7 million deal. His fastball is below big league average, operating in the low-90s, but he has developed an above-average splitter, and has good glove-side command of a serviceable slider/cutter. He also has a loopy, low-70s curveball.

Durability — he has just three IL stints in a decade — and repertoire depth push Lindblom toward the starter end of the spectrum, while a need to work heavily with the offspeed stuff so his fastball doesn’t get crushed slides him back toward the bullpen. The combo looks like a long relief type, one especially suited to face a lineup full of lefties because of the split, and his ability to tie up lefties with that slider/cutter. – EL

37. Rich Hill, SP, Age 40
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $8.0 M $8.0 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $10.0 M $10.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.09 $10.6 M $11.6 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
123.0 8.5% 26.0% 40.6% 4.10 4.22 4.33 2.0 2.2

Player Notes
The career renaissance that Hill began with his September 2015 stint with the Red Sox remains in effect, albeit in fits and starts around the aging southpaw’s frequent injuries. In 2019, he was limited to 13 starts not by his recurring blisters but by a left MCL sprain and a flexor tendon strain, and since being acquired from the A’s on July 31, 2016, he’s spent 233 days on the injured list, about 70 per full season. As in 2016-18, when he was available, he was very good, striking out 29.8% of hitters and limiting the ones that made contact to an 84.6 mph average exit velocity (98th percentile), 27.7% hard-hit rate (97th percentile), and .266 wOBA (90th percentile). Home runs (1.53 per nine) were nonetheless a problem, but the same can be said for dozens of other pitchers circa 2019. Hill’s no workhorse, but he’s capable of above-average production across 20-25 starts. Expect an incentive-laden deal, perhaps involving a vesting option. – JJ

38. Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Age 28
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $7.0 M $7.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.2 $8.0 M $17.6 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
524 4.8% 23.8% .255 .300 .465 .318 96 -3.8 -1.9 1.2

Player Notes
Sure, you may remember Schoop’s four-win, 120 wRC+, age-25 season but did you realize that it happened just three years ago? Since, Schoop has produced half as many wins in twice the time. His defensive numbers ticked down and the rabbit ball ate into what used to make him special (hitting for power) while magnifying his inability to reach base. Still, Schoop offers a rare dash of upside for a player this far down our list: If you think he’s still decent at second base, and consider his disastrous stint in Milwaukee a stone-cold fluke, you can dream on a league-average bat with adequate defense at the keystone; there are certainly worse gambles than a 28-year-old with Schoop’s career numbers and a 100 wRC+ just last season. But it’s also possible that Schoop’s power and defensive prowess are both waning, in which case he’s just not a very good player anymore. – BG

39. Todd Frazier, 3B/1B, Age 34
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $7.0 M $7.0 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $7.0 M $7.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.42 $7.3 M $10.4 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
476 9.8% 22.4% .235 .323 .443 .324 100 -0.9 0.2 1.5

Player Notes
I admit it: I thought The Toddfather was toast back in May. Frazier is no longer a serious contender for a Gold Glove at third, but he remains a more than competent defender at the hot corner. I suspect the days when he can surely snag a starting job are gone, but there are plenty of teams that could use a role player who can put up a 100 wRC+. It might have been helpful to Frazier if the Mets had snuck in a few more innings for him at first base and worked him into the outfield, but I can see a team like Washington having interest anyway. – DS

40. Gio Gonzalez, SP, Age 34
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $8.0 M $8.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $10.0 M $20.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.47 $5.7 M $8.4 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
151.0 9.4% 19.4% 45.5% 4.69 4.75 4.93 1.6 1.6

Player Notes
Gio Gonzalez has been a model of consistency — the last time he recorded a FIP- above 100 was 2009, and he’s made 30 or more starts in eight of the 10 seasons since then. At 34, he’s no spring chicken, but he’s adapted to his declining stuff, throwing fewer fastballs and leaning on his delightful, befuddling changeup. The title of “crafty lefty” is handed out too liberally for my tastes, but in this case, it might apply. Gonzalez lost a tick off of his fastball between 2018 and 2019 — and recorded the second-highest swinging strike rate of his career. He’s never thrown a lower percentage of pitches in the strike zone, and he’s also never gotten a higher swing rate on pitches outside it. That’s something to keep an eye on; if batters respond by swinging less often, Gio will be forced to attack the zone more frequently to keep his walk rate down, a dangerous proposition with a fastball that doesn’t crack 90 mph. That uncertainty will keep him from securing a long-term contract, but Gonzalez should slot in as a solid mid-to-back end starter, which means that he should appeal to (checks depth charts) every team in baseball. – BC

41. Kwang Hyun Kim, SP, Age 32
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 2 $7.0 M $14.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $5.0 M $10.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.55 $6.2 M $15.8 M

Player Notes
Kim has been at the center of an awful lot of winning dating back to his amateur career. MVP of a high school national championship team and a gold medal and MVP winner at the 2006 World Juniors, he won gold medals in the 2008 Olympics, 2014 Asian Games, and 2015 Premier12 tournament, plus four KBO titles (‘07, ‘08, ‘10, ‘18) and a KBO MVP (‘08) with SK Wyverns, the KBO club with which Kim is under contract for one more season. The Wyverns finished 88-55 this year, and Kim is a cornerstone of their rotation.

If he comes stateside, it won’t be the first time Kim has been posted. The Padres won his negotiating rights for $2 million back in 2014 but could not reach an agreement after a physical. Kim had Tommy John a few years later and missed all of 2017. His walk rates, which were terrifying throughout his early and mid-20s, got much better in the latter half of that decade of life, especially after he returned from surgery.

Many pitchers return from TJ with a new physique thanks to their time away from throwing, during which they’re focused on the rest of their body. That’s not the case here, as Kim’s athleticism is seeping away, his arm slot has lowered a bit, and he’s less balanced over his blocking leg than he used to be. Stuff wise, Kim has a nasty, tilt-a-whirl slider he deploys as his primary swing and miss weapon; the rest of his repertoire (a low-90s fastball, low-70s curveball, and upper-70s changeup) is average or below. It’s a fifth starter/swingman look, barring some kind of velo explosion out of a bullpen. The question then becomes: is what teams are willing to pay for that sort of profile enticing enough for SK, a competitive team, to ship away such a vital part of their rotation? – EL

42. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, LF/RF, Age 28
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 2 $8.0 M $16.0 M
Median Crowdsource 4 $10.0 M $40.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 3.92 $10.5 M $41.3 M

Player Notes
Sources indicate to FanGraphs that Tsutsugo averaged 92 mph off the bat in NPB last year, which would put him among the top 30 big leaguers by average exit velo. He has monstrous, all-fields power thanks to plate coverage that seems impossible based on how much he opens up his front side during his swing, much like Eddie Rosario.

He’s defensively limited to left field or DH. Tsutsugo has some experience at third base, but he’s a lumbering infielder with below-average hands, which means he should only play there in an emergency. The bad hands make first base kind of dicey, too.

He has a chance to be an average everyday player for a while but there’s no margin for error here because of the defensive limitations, and while he’s one of the youngest free agents of this group, Tsutsugo’s frame is not the sort that typically ages well. – EL

43. Robinson Chirinos, C, Age 36
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $9.0 M $9.0 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $6.0 M $6.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.26 $5.8 M $7.4 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
368 10.3% 29.7% .218 .318 .406 .311 91 -5.8 6.7 0.7

Player Notes
Players with multiple homers in the World Series this year: Juan Soto (3), Alex Bregman (3), Adam Eaton (2), Anthony Rendon (2), George Springer (2), and … Robinson Chirinos?! The Astros catcher didn’t do much more at the plate this postseason than hit his two home runs, but his 113 wRC+ in 2019 was a bit above his 105 career mark. He’s a patient hitter and strikeouts come with that patience, but he’s got some pop with a .205 career ISO. He’s not a very good framer but he’s a solid blocker even at 35 years old. Given Chirinos’ age and position, he could fall off at any time, but he proved to be a solid signing for Houston after the Rangers declined a cheap option on him a year ago. – CE

44. José Abreu, 1B, Age 33
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $11.0 M $11.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $15.0 M $30.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 2.41 $14.9 M $35.9 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
660 6.2% 20.8% .277 .333 .495 .343 113 8.5 -16.6 1.4

Player Notes
Though he’s made the past two AL All-Star teams and is fresh off a career high 123 RBI as well as his second-best home run total (33), Abreu hasn’t been a particularly valuable player in recent years due to low on-base percentages (.330 in 2019, driven by a minuscule 5.2% walk rate) and subpar, near DH-caliber defense (-1.9 UZR, -4 DRS). After hitting a combined .301/.359/.524 for a 139 wRC+ from 2014-17, he’s slipped to .275/.328/.490 over the past two seasons; both his 116 wRC+ and 3.1 WAR rank 15th out of 27 first basemen with at least 800 PA in that span. While his 92.1 mph average exit velocity placed him in the 94th percentile, some of that was wasted by his 46.3% groundball rate, though to be fair, his .361 xwOBA placed in the 82nd percentile. In August, Abreu told the Chicago Sun-Times that White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf told him, “I am not going to wear a jersey other than a White Sox jersey,” so don’t be surprised if he sticks around, particularly — and yes, this cynicism is earned considering the team owner’s long history of anti-labor practices — if the team hamstrings him with a qualifying offer. – JJ

45. Jordan Lyles, SP, Age 29
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 2 $7.0 M $14.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $6.0 M $12.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.94 $6.6 M $12.9 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
150.0 8.7% 21.1% 41.8% 4.87 4.84 4.86 1.5 1.3

Player Notes
Recency bias is a phenomenon where people remember and place more value on events that happened in the near past, at the expense of more distant incidents. Lyles will likely hope that it’s a condition shared by general managers across the league, as the 58 innings he threw in Milwaukee look quite a bit rosier than his numbers in Pittsburgh, or anywhere else, frankly. That’s perhaps a bit too pithy: He actually missed plenty of bats as a Buc, and has been solid since the start of 2018. In any case, he is what he is: A useful swingman who can eat innings as a No. 4 so long as you don’t push him very hard. – BG

46. José Iglesias, SS, Age 30
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $7.0 M $7.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $7.0 M $14.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.78 $4.8 M $8.6 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
498 4.7% 12.8% .267 .306 .386 .294 80 -12.8 8.8 1.2

Player Notes
A free agent last offseason, the 29-year-old Iglesias had to settle for a minor league deal and a spring training invite from Cincinnati. An injury to Scooter Gennett enabled him to break camp with the Reds and thanks to two sizzling months — Iglesias was hitting .308/.340/.443 at the end of May — he held fast to the everyday shortstop gig.

Then, like a receding tide, Iglesias’ offensive output returned to his meager career norms. He has almost no power, so while he’s tough to strike out (his 11.3% K% is tied with Daniel Murphy and José Ramírez for eighth lowest since 2015), he’s not an impact offensive player. Iglesias owns a .371 career SLG%, and even though he hit as many homers in 2019 as he did in 2017 and ’18 combined, he was still near the bottom of baseball in ISO.

He can still pick it, though. Contending teams looking to play matchups based on game state the way Tampa Bay does, or perhaps more exactly the way Arizona does with Nick Ahmed, should view him as a fit in a utility role, a late-inning defensive replacement, someone who pinch hits when the situation demands a ball in play.

With some combination of Asdrúbal Cabrera, Howie Kendrick, and Anthony Rendon leaving, Washington would seem like a potential landing spot, especially because neither Trea Turner nor Carter Kieboom are very good infield defenders. Iglesias would also be a late-inning defensive upgrade to whichever mashing middle infielder (Seager, Muncy, Lux, Taylor) the Dodgers run out any given day. – EL

47. Daniel Hudson, RP, Age 33
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $6.0 M $6.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $6.0 M $12.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.87 $5.9 M $11.0 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
65.0 9.7% 23.6% 39.7% 4.51 4.60 4.81 0.2 0.2

Player Notes
Hudson began the season as one of the few reliable options on the pitching staff of the basement-adjacent Blue Jays. He ended it closing out the World Series for the Washington Nationals as one of their own few trusted relievers. His upward trajectory reflects the level of success he showed as a high-leverage option in 2019. After a below-replacement-level 2018 with the Dodgers, this was a big year for Hudson. His greatest improvement during his excellent stint with the Nationals was a massive reining-in of his walk rate, an area he’s generally struggled with during his career: his 11.1% rate in his first half with the Blue Jays fell to a 4.1% mark with the Nationals, while he maintained his high strikeout rate and fastball velocity. A career-high rate of hard contact might be an area of concern, though Hudson improved on that score in the second half. – RM

48. Asdrúbal Cabrera, 2B/3B, Age 34
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $6.0 M $6.0 M
Median Crowdsource 2 $6.0 M $12.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.27 $4.8 M $6.1 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
508 8.7% 20.0% .261 .329 .440 .325 100 -2.0 1.4 1.6

Player Notes
It may feel like your grandfather has memories of Cabrera’s debut season at ol’ Municipal Stadium, but the Venezuela native will only be 34 years old on Opening Day. He’s bounced around either side of the 2 WAR mark over the last three seasons, and was fantastic for the Nationals down the stretch. He’s still a capable defender up the middle and his wRC+ since the start of 2017 is well above 100. For whatever reason, Cabrera’s paychecks have never quite reflected the value he provides: the six wins he’s notched over the last three seasons are, conservatively, worth nearly $50 million but he’s been paid less than half that amount. In any just world he gets a nice raise this offseason, even if teams are understandably leery of making a multi-year commitment to someone with his skills at that age. – BG

49. Eric Sogard, 2B/3B/OF, Age 34
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $6.0 M $6.0 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $4.0 M $4.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.37 $3.9 M $5.4 M
2020 Steamer Projections
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
414 9.7% 15.7% .256 .334 .380 .308 89 -5.5 -0.2 0.8

Player Notes
Eric Sogard isn’t actually a slightly hip high school science teacher who connects with the kids via memes, but he looks like he could play one on TV. Don’t let that blind you to the fact that he put up 2.6 WAR in 2019 and hit a home run off of Gerrit Cole in a playoff game. Even if you don’t believe Sogard’s recent power spike (and given how many wall-scrapers he hit, I wouldn’t blame you for your skepticism), his blend of good baserunning, an extremely high contact rate, and defensive versatility make him an excellent first infielder off the bench. A late bloomer who is dipping into free agency for the first time at 33, he won’t secure a long-term deal, but there are any number of playoff contenders with middling depth who would benefit from Sogard’s presence. He won’t be your team’s MVP next year, but he might be its glue guy, someone who prevents the roster from having sub-replacement-level backups while getting spot starts and being a lot of fun on the bench when he’s not playing. – BC

50. Homer Bailey, SP, Age 34
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 1 $7.0 M $7.0 M
Median Crowdsource 1 $5.0 M $5.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 1.39 $5.8 M $8.0 M
2020 Steamer Projections
IP BB% K% GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
151.0 7.4% 19.7% 44.6% 4.71 4.73 4.72 1.7 1.7

Player Notes
Homer Bailey is a lot more interesting a pitcher when you’re not paying him $100 million to be in your rotation. After going 1-14 with a 6.09 ERA and a 5.55 FIP in 2018, I was mildly surprised to see Bailey in the majors at all this season, let alone as an actual contributor. I still wouldn’t invest a significant amount of money to bring Bailey on — nor will any major league team, I’d wager — but with the realization that his splitter is his true bread-and-butter pitch, he can likely contribute in a swingman role. Given that Edwin Jackson keeps finding jobs, Bailey probably deserves to as well. – DS

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newest oldest most voted
Fredchuckdave
Member

Seems like the crowdsourcing processing went much faster this year, thanks

szakyl
Member
szakyl

I wonder if the faster process had any adverse effects on the level of participation though

Fredchuckdave
Member

With how internet traffic goes most of the responses would have happened within the first 3-6 hours of the post or so, after that you’d just get like another 5%ish