With the Los Angeles Dodgers winning the World Series on Tuesday night, 147 players hit the open market as unrestricted free agents on Wednesday at noon ET.
While players aren’t eligible to sign with clubs until Sunday, front offices around the league have certainly been preparing for the start of the 2021 free-agent period for some time.
Although the original list, as announced on Wednesday by the MLB Players’ Association, sat at 147 players, others have hit the open market by way of teams declining their 2021 club options. So, the list has expanded some over the last 24 hours.
Let’s check in with the players that have hit the open market since noon Wednesday on a team-by-team basis.
*Odds courtesy of BetOnline
147 Hit Open Market, Others Join
Arizona Diamondbacks (5): Junior Guerra, Jon Jay, Mike Leake, Hector Rondon, Yasmany Tomas
Atlanta Braves (9): Tyler Flowers, Shane Greene, Cole Hamels, Adeiny Hechavarria, Nick Markakis, Mark Melancon, Marcell Ozuna, Pablo Sandoval, Josh Tomlin
Baltimore Orioles (2): Bryan Holiday, Wade LeBlanc
Boston Red Sox (5): Jackie Bradley Jr., Rusney Castillo, Collin McHugh, Jose Peraza, Cesar Puello
Chicago Cubs (8): Andrew Chafin, Tyler Chatwood, Billy Hamilton, Jeremy Jeffress, Jason Kipnis, Cameron Maybin, Josh Phegley, Jose Quintana
Chicago White Sox (3): Alex Colome, Jarrod Dyson, James McCann
Cincinnati Reds (4): Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani, Freddy Galvis, Tyler Thornburg
Cleveland Indians (3): Cesar Hernandez, Sandy Leon, Oliver Perez
Colorado Rockies (6): Drew Butera, Matt Kemp, Daniel Murphy, Chris Owings, Kevin Pillar, A.J. Ramos
Detroit Tigers (5): C.J. Cron, Ivan Nova, Austin Romine, Jonathan Schoop, Jordan Zimmermann
Houston Astros (4): Michael Brantley, Brad Peacock, Josh Reddick, George Springer
Kansas City Royals (4): Alex Gordon, Matt Harvey, Greg Holland, Ian Kennedy
Los Angeles Angels (2): Andrelton Simmons, Julio Teheran
Los Angeles Dodgers (7): Pedro Baez, Enrique Hernandez, Jake McGee, Joc Pederson, Blake Treinen, Justin Turner, Alex Wood
Miami Marlins (8): Brad Boxberger, Francisco Cervelli, Logan Forsythe, Matt Joyce, Brian Moran, Sean Rodriguez, Drew Steckenrider, Nick Vincent
Milwaukee Brewers (1): Brett Anderson
Minnesota Twins (9): Ehire Adrianza, Alex Avila, Tyler CLippard, Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, Rich Hill, Trevor May, Jake Odorizzi, Sergio Romo
New York Mets (14): Yoenis Cespedes, Robinson Chirinos, Todd Frazier, Jared Hughes, Jed Lowrie, Jake Marisnick, Eduardo Nunez, Rick Porcello, Erasmo Ramirez, Wilson Ramos, Rene Rivera, Marcus Stroman, Michael Wacha, Justin Wilson
New York Yankees (4): Erik Kratz, DJ LeMahieu, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka
Oakland Athletics (10): Mike Fiers, Robbie Grossman, Liam Hendriks, Tomma La Stella, Jake Lamb, T.J. McFarland, Mike Minor, Yusmeiro Petit, Marcus Semien, Joakim Soria
Philadelphia Phillies (7): Jose Alvarez, Jake Arrieta, Jay Bruce, Didi Gregorius, Tommy Hunter, J.T. Realmuto, Brandon Workman
Pittsburgh Pirates (2): Derek Holland, Keone Kela
St. Louis Cardinals (5): Brad Miller, Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, Matt Wieters, Kolten Wong
San Diego Padres (5): Jason Castro, Jurickson Profar, Garrett Richards, Trevor Rosenthal, Kirby Yates
San Francisco Giants (4): Trevor Cahill, Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly, Tony Watson
Seattle Mariners (3): Dee Gordon, Kendall Graveman, Yoshihisa Hirano
Tampa Bay Rays (1): Aaron Loup
Texas Rangers (8): Jesse Chavez, Shin-Soo Choo, Derek Dietrich, Corey Kluber, Jeff Mathis, Juan Nicasio, Andrew Romine, Edinson Volquez
Toronto Blue Jays (7): Anthony Bass, Ken Giles, Joe Panik, Robbie Ray, Matt Shoemaker, Jonathan Villar, Taijuan Walker
Washington Nationals (9): Asdrubal Cabrera, Sean Dootlittle, Adam Eaton, Brock Holt, Howie Kendrick, Anibal Sanchez, Kurt Suzuki, Eric Thames, Ryan Zimmerman
Top Free Agents & Potential Landing Spots
Now let’s break down some of the top free agents, their status heading into the open market and potential landing spots that make sense for their services. We have included 2021 World Series odds with each potential suitor.
J.T. Realmuto (30), C
You could argue Trevor Bauer as the top free agent on the market as he is likely to enter free agency with a 2020 NL Cy Young award in his back pocket, but given the scarcity of elite catching options available and the importance of the position, Realmuto probably remains the top name available.
After all, the White Sox signed Yasmani Grandal – widely regarded as the second-best overall catcher in baseball next to Realmuto – last winter on a four-year, $73M pact, giving credence to the notion that catchers are highly valued in free agency.
Realmuto hits the market on the heels of a 2020 season in which he slashed .266/.349/.491 with 11 homers and a 125 wRC+ that came just one tick under his career-high of 126 in 2018. That said, his .225 ISO and .361 wOBA were indeed career highs.
According to FanGraphs, Realmuto was worth -1 Defensive Runs Saved behind the plate, although he did show some versatility as he logged 20.2 innings at first base as well. He also caught just 25% of attempted base-stealers after posting a +13 DRS while throwing out 46.7% of base stealers in 2019.
That said, he is regarded as one of the best pitch-framing catchers in baseball as Statcast ranked him in the league’s 95th percentile in that department. At the plate, Statcast had him in at least the 73rd percentile in exit velocity, xwOBA, xSLG and barrel rate. He also offers a rare speed aspect for a catcher, ranking in the league’s 84th percentile in top sprint speed in 2020.
He dealt with a hip ailment down the stretch of the regular season, but despite tightened financials across the league, Realmuto should land a sizeable deal on the open market this winter, especially if the universal DH remains in place moving forward.
Potential Landing Spots: Philadelphia Phillies (+4000), Atlanta Braves (+1200), New York Mets (+3300), Cincinnati Reds (+1600), Milwaukee Brewers (+5000), Los Angeles Angels (+4000)
Trevor Bauer (30), RHP
Bauer is hands-down the top pitching option on the open market and couldn’t be hitting free agency at more opportune time.
Bauer dominated throughout the 2020 regular season, working to a 1.73 ERA – second to only Shane Bieber league wide – with a 2.88 FIP, 12.33 K/9 and a 2.5 fWAR that ranked fourth in baseball. He added a postseason gem as well, hurling 7.2 innings of shutout ball while issuing zero walks and 12 strikeouts against a deadly Atlanta Braves in the Wild Card round.
It's the @BauerOutage strut for us. 😂
— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) October 22, 2020
That’s two lights-out seasons over the last three for Bauer after he worked to a 2.21 ERA/2.44 FIP with the 2018 Cleveland Indians, although he struggled mightily after a trade deadline deal to Cincinnati in 2019.
Bauer has apparently come off his previous declaration that he is only interested in one-year deals in free agency moving forward, which will limit his market but the charismatic right-hander will still have plenty of suitors this winter on the heels of an impressive 2020 campaign.
Potential Landing Spots: Los Angeles Angels (+4000), San Diego Padres (+800), Atlanta Braves (+1200), Houston Astros (+2200), Cincinnati Reds (+1600), Minnesota Twins (+1400), Philadelphia Phillies (+4000)
George Springer (31), OF
Like Bauer and Realmuto before him, Springer is hitting free agency at an opportune time after another excellent regular season and postseason as the Astros marched their way to the American League Championship Series.
Springer hit four homers this October to tie Albert Pujols for fourth all-time with 19 postseason home runs, but he also hit 14 regular-season big flies and posted a .379 wOBA and 146 wRC+ in the 2020 regular season, the latter two of which are the second-best marks of his career only to his 2019 figures.
The one issue with Springer is his ability to stay on the field. He’s avoided major injuries in his career, but hasn’t played a full season since 2016. He missed 22 games in both 2017 and 2018 before missing 40 in 2019 and another nine in this season’s 60-game schedule.
His defense was stellar this season, especially in center field where he posted a +6 DRS according to FanGraphs. Statcast had him in the league’s 69th percentile in outs above average and in the 62nd percentile in outfielder jump.
His defense and speed on the bases keeps him ranked ahead of Marcell Ozuna in terms of his overall ability as he too will see a strong pursuit this offseason.
Potential Landing Spots: Atlanta Braves (+1200), Houston Astros (+2200), San Francisco Giants (+8000), Arizona Diamondbacks (+6600), Miami Marlins (+6000), Cincinnati Reds (+1600)
Marcell Ozuna, (30) OF/DH
The fourth consecutive player on this list that is hitting the market at a wildly opportune time, perhaps no one on this list – save for Bauer – is hitting the market at a better time than Ozuna.
After a couple of solid yet unspectacular seasons with the Cardinals, Ozuna bet on himself with a one-year deal in Atlanta for 2020 and was even rumored to have turned down a three-year pact from the Reds last winter.
The move likely won’t pay off as much as it would have in a normal financial setting, however Ozuna nevertheless seemed to have made the right choice as he exploded for an NL-leading 18 home runs while posting career-highs in ISO (.298), OPS (1.067), wOBA (.444) and wRC (+179), among others.
By our calculations*, Marcell Ozuna's three home runs tonight have traveled a combined 6 miles.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 2, 2020
Ozuna also ranked in the league’s 94th percentile or better in exit velocity (96th), hard hit rate (97th), xwOBA (99th), xBA (97th), xSLG (98th) and barrel rate (94th).
Ozuna was the Braves’ primary DH last season as he logged just 162 innings in the outfield and posted a -2 DRS in the process. He was worth -1 outs above average in the outfield as well, as per Statcast, ranking 101st among MLB outfielders.
That said, here’s a guy that would benefit in a big way if the universal DH continues, which seems like a strong possibility as this point. It was already gaining steam before the truncated 2020 season and will likely be here to stay, to Ozuna’s benefit.
Potential Landing Spots: Atlanta Braves (+1200), Cincinnati Reds (+1600), Houston Astros (+2200), Washington Nationals (+3300), Milwaukee Brewers (+5000), San Francisco Giants (+8000), Colorado Rockies (+12500), Texas Rangers (+12500)
DJ LeMahieu (32), 1B/2B/3B
LeMahieu has been among the biggest bargains in the recent free-agent history as he fell to the Yankees on a two-year, $24M deal prior to the 2019 season.
The $12M annual salary isn’t exactly dirt cheap, but he led all of baseball with a .364 batting average in the shortened 2020 season after ranking fourth with a .327 mark in 2019.
His 2.5 fWAR from this past season tied him for 11th alongside Ozuna and the Rockies’ Trevor Story while his 177 wRC+ finished third in baseball in 2020, just one spot behind Ozuna.
He’s added defensive versatility to his arsenal as he can played every infield position save for shortstop. He didn’t rank particularly well in the field, however, as he earned a 0 DRS at all of third base, second base and first base for the Yankees last season while Statcast had his defense in the league’s 20th percentile with -2 outs above average when combining all three positions played.
His fielding isn’t likely to improve a whole lot at the age of 32 and he missed 10 games this past season due to injury, factors that could limit his market.
Nonetheless, the bat is as professional as it gets. His walk rate of 8.3% nearly matched his K-rate of 9.7% and he ranked in the league’s 99th percentile in whiff rate with a 4.5% swinging strike rate on the season.
Potential Landing Spots: New York Yankees (+650), Oakland Athletics (+1600), St. Louis Cardinals (+3300), Washington Nationals (+3300), Philadelphia Phillies (+4000), Boston Red Sox (+5000), Milwaukee Brewers (+5000), Miami Marlins (+6000), Texas Rangers (+12500)
Marcus Semien (30), SS
There is a deadly crop of free-agent shortstops set to hit the open market next offseason with the likes of Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Javier Baez and Carlos Correa all schedule to hit the open market after the conclusion of the 2021 World Series.
Such a circumstance will have teams with shortstop needs holding off this time around and waiting until next winter to open up the pocket books, especially with a healthier financial situation likely in tow.
That said, it will be interesting to see what Semien’s market shakes out to be this winter. He performed at an MVP level in the 2019 season, but his production plummeted in 2020.
The first name on this list hitting the open market at an inopportune time, Semien slashed just .223/.305/.374 with a .152 ISO, .299 wOBA and 91 wRC+. He hit just seven homers and stole only four bases in 52 games while his 91 wRC+ figure was his worst since his 64-game 2014 season with the White Sox.
His defense has improved over the years to the point where he was worth +14 DRS in 2018 and another +12 in 2019, but he dropped to a -5 mark this season and ranked in just the 6th percentile in outs above average, as per Statcast. He also ranked in the 13th percentile or worse in exit velocity (12th), hard hit rate (9th), xwOBA (10th), xBA (7th) and xSLG (13th).
Teams will therefore be hesitant to hit Semien with a lucrative, multi-year deal this winter, but it will also be difficult for him to compete with his shortstop peers on next year’s open market. It’s certainly a tough spot for Semien to be in that the moment coming off an extremely poor season, so it will be interesting to keep an eye on his market as it develops.
Potential Landing Spots: New York Yankees (+650), Minnesota Twins (+1400), Cincinnati Reds (+1600), Oakland Athletics (+1600), Los Angeles Angels (+4000), Philadelphia Phillies (+4000), Milwaukee Brewers (+5000)
Marcus Stroman (29), RHP
Stroman suffered a calf tear before opting out of the 2020 season. That said, the injury was at least not an arm injury and he’s still on the right side of 30 with less wear and tear on his arm than had he played this season.
He’s also been among the most reliable pitchers in the game. He’s the owner of a career 3.76 ERA/3.64 FIP, but has worked to a 3.22 ERA or better in two of the last three seasons. Even in his down 2018 season in which he posted a 5.54 ERA, he also worked to a 3.91 FIP, 3.84 xFIP and 4.04 SIERA, so that one-off campaign can be chalked up to poor luck.
He’s not a strikeout pitcher by any means with a career 7.36 K/9, but is one of the best ground-ball pitchers in baseball with a career 58.6% ground-ball rate and has kept the ball in the park at a 0.83 HR/9 clip as a result. Add in the excellent command and Stroman’s results aren’t all that surprising.
Teams in need of a top-of-the-rotation arm for the foreseeable future will be lining up for his services this winter.
Potential Landing Spots: San Diego Padres (+800), Atlanta Braves (+1200), Chicago White Sox (+1600), Houston Astros (+2200), St. Louis Cardinals (+3300), Los Angeles Angels (+4000), Boston Red Sox (+5000), Arizona Diamondbacks (+6600), San Francisco Giants (+8000)
Didi Gregorius (31), SS
Gregorius underwent Tommy John surgery that cost him the first half of the 2019 season and he largely scuffled upon his return to the Yankees lineup. The Phillies took a one-year flier on Gregorius for 2020 and he rewarded them with 10 homers as part of a .205 ISO, .827 OPS, .348 wOBA and 116 wRC+, all of which were the second-best marks of his career behind his 2018 season with the Yankees.
Once known more for his glove than his bat, that narrative has flipped upside down as his bat has improved dramatically while his defense has tailed off after posting a -10 DRS in 2019 and a -2 mark in 2020.
Statcast was not only similarly harsh on his defense as he ranked in the 20th percentile in terms of outs above average, but it was not a fan of his bat despite the excellent on-surface results. Statcast ranked him in the 2nd percentile in exit velocity, 8th in hard hit rate and 19th in barrel rate.
That said, teams with a need at shortstop and left-handed pop will be interested in his services for next season and potential beyond. His suitors will be quite similar to Semien’s, and it’s rumored the Angels have early interest in the veteran shortstop with Andrelton Simmons also hitting free agency.
Potential Landing Spots: Los Angeles Angels (+4000), Milwaukee Brewers (+5000), New York Yankees (+650), Cincinnati Reds (+1600), Oakland Athletics (+1600), Pittsburgh Pirates (+30000)
Liam Hendriks (32), RHP
Hendriks, fresh off winning the Mariano Rivera Reliever of the Year Award in the American League, is going to see some heavy interest this offseason.
Not only did Hendriks enjoy a dominant 2020 season in which he led all AL relievers in 1.4 fWAR, he also did that and more in 2019 as his 3.6 fWAR that season was the best mark in all of baseball. His 5.2 fWAR over the last two seasons is miles ahead of the pack as the Rays’ Nick Anderson and his 3.0 mark during that time is the second-best mark in baseball. His 108.1 innings in that time is the second-most among qualified relievers next to the Rays’ Jalen Beeks and his 111.1 frames, although Beeks was used as a multi-inning opener in that time as well.
Liam Hendriks, Overpowering 98mph Fastball. 🔥
"The thrill of victory … and the agony of defeat."
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 7, 2020
In layman’s terms, the best reliever in baseball over the last two seasons – by far – is up for grabs on the open market and will have a bevy of suitors lining up for his services given the increasingly important nature of reliable bullpen arms.
I would expect Hendriks to want to sign with a contender, although some long-shot 2020 playoff teams with bullpen needs will also be checking in.
Potential Landing Spots: New York Yankees (+650), San Diego Padres (+800), Atlanta Braves (+1200), Minnesota Twins (+1400), Chicago White Sox (+1600), Houston Astros (+2200), St. Louis Cardinals (+3300), Washington Nationals (+3300), Toronto Blue Jays (+5000), Miami Marlins (+6000)
Alex Colome (32), RHP
Another closer that dominated this past season, Colome re-established himself as one of the better back-end relievers in the game in the shortened 2020 season.
The right-hander’s 0.81 ERA was the second-best mark in the AL last season, although his 2.97 FIP and 4.26 xFIP indicated sure regression has the season been of normal length. He’s also not a strikeout arm in the least as his 6.45 K/9 from last season ranked 160th of 173 qualified relievers last season.
Despite some iffy peripherals, he’s a reliable veteran reliever who has not worked to an ERA above 3.94 in his career and has been at 3.04 or less in three straight seasons. For his career, colome owns a 2.95 ERA/3.54 FIP with a K/9 of 8.17. He should be in for some positive strikeout regression next season.
Although there are free agent position players who could certainly be ranked ahead of Colome on this list, he’s certainly among the most attractive relievers, albeit in an entirely separate category to Hendriks these days, although I see similar suitors for his services on contenders with bullpen needs.
Potential Landing Spots: Oakland Athletics (+1600), New York Yankees (+650), San Diego Padres (+800), Minnesota Twins (+1400), Houston Astros (+2200), St. Louis Cardinals (+3300), Washington Nationals (+3300), Los Angeles Angels (+4000), Toronto Blue Jays (+5000), Miami Marlins (+6000), San Francisco Giants (+8000)
Additional, High-End Names: Nelson Cruz (40), DH; Michael Brantley (33), OF; Masahiro Tanaka (32), RHP; Shane Greene (32), RHP; Taijuan Walker (28), RHP; Joc Pederson (28), OF; James Paxton (32), LHP; Justin Turner (36), 3B; Jake Odorizzi (31), RHP; Andrelton Simmons (31), SS; Blake Treinen (32), RHP