2019’s Top 50 MLB Free Agents with Predictions

1.  Gerrit Cole – Dodgers.  Seven years, $235MM. I think the off season’s top prize will end up in LA.

Many think the Angels will ante up for Gerrit Cole. I think it will be the other Los Angeles team that makes the big splash for the top arm on the market.

In the past few seasons, the Dodgers have gotten painfully close to a World Series crown. A common theme in the team’s failure: less than stellar starting pitching.

Pairing Cole and Kershaw for the next few seasons should allow the Dodgers to stay atop the National League, and give them a few more shots at a World Series championship.

2.  Anthony Rendon – White Sox.  Six years, $200MM.  I believe Rendon will cash in and move on from the Nationals.

The White Sox, a team on the rise and looking to make a splash, are a good fit for Rendon, who would add a strong bat to the middle of the team’s order.

There will surely be competition for Rendon’s services, but I believe is market will cap right around $200 million, limiting his suitors. The White Sox should have money to spend this off season, and will be looking to help the team take a step forward in a weakened AL Central.

3.  Stephen Strasburg – Nationals.  Six years, $180MM. This seems like it may be a lock.

Strasburg, a Scott Boras client, has reportedly begun re-negotiating a contract with the Nationals.

While he was due nearly $100 million over the next four seasons, Strasburg made the wise decision to opt out, and I think the Nationals will reward him by adding on two additional seasons to his deal and another $80 million.

He earned it this postseason.

4.  Zack Wheeler – Phillies.  Five years, $110MM. 

Wheeler fits almost every team in the league, and due to not being the top arm on the market, he will surely have an increased number of offers.

The Phillies are one of the most desperate teams for starting pitching across baseball.

After spending big last off season and landing OF Bryce Harper, I believe the Phillies will play below the top of the market this off season, and look to capitalize on a guy like Wheeler.

He does come with risk, as Wheeler is a former Tommy John recipient, but now two years removed from the surgery and with one of his best seasons coming in 2019, I believe he can score over $100 million.

5.  Josh Donaldson – Braves.  One year, $22.5MM. The Braves and Donaldson were pretty much a perfect marriage last season.

Donaldson returned to near-MVP form and didn’t struggle with injury while adding a big right-handed bat to the middle of Atlanta’s order. He handled the third base job all season, despite 3B Austin Riley making his debut at the Major Leagues.

Frankly, Riley didn’t instill a ton of confidence for me to believe the Braves would be willing to move on from Donaldson, leading to another one year deal with a buyout or mutual option for a second year.

6.  Madison Bumgarner – Yankees.  Five years, $120MM. Bumgarner is the most intriguing arm on the market, in my opinion.

A former World Series winner and clutch playoff performer, Bumgarner suffered a shoulder injury a few seasons ago that cost him some time and made some question if his best days were behind him.

Then, Bumgarner was able to put up over 200 innings in 2019 for the first time in a few seasons.

Despite a rising ERA the past three years, Bumgarner is still a proven performer that was tasked with pitching on some bad Giants’ teams of late.

A move back to a contender could bring out the best in Bumgarner, and the fact that he’s left-handed increases his value as well. That’s why I believe he will end up getting more than Wheeler, reeling in that sum from the Bronx Bombers, who could desperately use a top-of-the-rotation arm.

7.  Yasmani Grandal – Reds.  Four years, $70MM. Grandal bet on himself, taking a one-year-deal with the Brewers last off season, and responded with his best season as a pro.

Now, I believe he will cash in, and return to the team that drafted him: the Cincinnati Reds.

The Reds have been searching for Grandal’s replacement since they traded him, and his return would add a huge boost to the Reds’ lineup and pitching staff.

8.  Nicholas Castellanos – White Sox.  Four years, $60MM. Castellanos is a difficult one to place.

He is likely going to sign with an American League team, so he could be utilized in a team’s DH spot, as well as its outfield.

If the White Sox truly are looking to make a splash as I believe, Castellanos is just the kind of guy they could be looking to add.

A bat-first player, Castellanos would add depth to the middle of a White Sox order that would be a huge pain to deal with.

Plus, his defensive shortcomings should limit what he can make on the open market, making him more affordable for Chicago.

9.  Hyun-Jin Ryu – Dodgers.  Three years, $50MM.  Ryu set himself up nicely for free agency with arguably his best season in 2019.

However, he will be 33-years-old next season, and has dealt with a major shoulder injury in the past.

Therefore, I believe familiarity will prevail, allowing Ryu to stay in LA while earning a pay raise.

10.  Jake Odorizzi – Twins.  Three years, $45MM. Odorizzi is firmly in the second tier of available arms this winter.

With a number of guys of his ilk available, my gut feel is that he may have trouble finding a deal he likes, which could lead him returning to the Twin Cities.

Odorizzi was one of the Twins best starters in 2019, and the team surely can’t let all of their arms walk in free agency. He should be reasonably priced, which is why I believe he will return.

11.  Marcell Ozuna – Giants.  Three years, $50MM. Ozuna is one of the more under-the-radar type guys available this year.

While he can be inconsistent, Ozuna has shown the ability to be a solid middle-of-the-order producer when he’s going right.

The Giants aren’t a team that will be competing for the playoffs next season, but one of the team’s many holes is in the corner outfield, and Ozuna would surely fit quite well.

12.  Didi Gregorius – Marlins.  Three years, $40MM. Queue up my Derek Jeter-Yankee connection here.

Look: The Marlins are in for another tough year in 2020, but did take some steps forward this season.

The team would surely benefit from Gregorius’ veteran presence, and his left-handed bat in the middle of the team’s order. He would also serve as a fine place holder for top prospect SS Jazz Chisholm.

I think DiDi would be exactly the kind of guy that the Marlins will be looking to add.

13.  Will Smith – Phillies.  Three years, $39MM. Smith has been one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball over the past four years.

The Phillies are one of the most bullpen-needy teams in the league.

After being burned on some pitching signings in recent years, Philadelphia will surely be looking for consistency.

Enter Smith, one of the most consistent relievers in the league. Another plus: he has closing experience. I’d expect the Phillies to be among his top suitors.

14.  Dallas Keuchel – Angels.  Three years, $45MM. After having to wait until June for a deal from the Atlanta Braves, I believe Keuchel will have a much shorter wait on the free agent market this time around.

The Los Angeles Angels, one of Keuchel’s former rivals when he was a member of the Houston Astros, will be searching for pitching this off season.

Enter Keuchel, a pitcher the team has a ton of experience with, generates ground balls, and is left-handed.

I think a number of teams will be interested but if the Angels can guarantee three seasons, that may be enough to land Keuchel.

15.  Cole Hamels – Phillies.  Two years, $20MM. This one should be a lock.

Hamels himself has said he wants to return to Philadelphia, even on a one-year deal.

When healthy, Hamels has shown he can be a consistent performer, even at his advanced age.

The Phillies are in need of starting pitching, and I believe they’ll bring Hamels back to finish his career with the team.

16.  Jose Abreu – White Sox.  Three years, $40MM. I have the White Sox making some big splashes in free agency, but that doesn’t mean I think they’ll forget one of their own.

Abreu seems to be a team leader in Chicago, and I can’t imagine it would be a popular move for the team to let him walk.

He still provides consistent production in the middle of the order, and if the Sox make the other moves I’ve predicted, Abreu would be returning to the best White Sox team he’s ever played on.

17.  Michael Pineda – Braves.  Two years, $20MM. The Braves will be seeking veteran arms to add to the team’s young rotation this off season.

After missing out on some of the team’s top targets, I have Atlanta re-routing and snagging Pineda, who had one of his most healthy years in some time in 2019.

While he comes with big injury risk, Pineda is now an experienced Major League pitcher who has good, hard stuff when healthy.

Plus, due to his past, he shouldn’t break the bank for the dollar-conscious Braves.

18.  Mike Moustakas – Nationals.  Two years, $30MM. With the Nationals losing out on Rendon, the team will need a third baseman.

The Brewers, who Moustakas resigned last off season, are likely to spend money on pitching this year than retaining the third bagger.

I’d think Moustakas would have a fair amount of interest on the open market, and would be a decent way to replace Rendon for 1/8 of the price.

19.  Kyle Gibson – Brewers.  Two years, $20MM. The Brewers are one of the most starting pitching-needy teams in all of baseball.

While Gibson’s numbers won’t blow anyone away, he has shown consistency over the past few seasons.

For a Brewers pitching staff that has been riddled with injuries over the past few seasons, they’d likely love to pencil in an easy 180 innings over 30 starts.

Enter Gibson, who shouldn’t break the bank for a financially-limited Milwaukee club.

20.  Tanner Roark – Mariners.  Two years, $18MM. Roark is another interesting, difficult to place arm on this list.

He’s definitely a back-of-the-rotation starter, but he’s an innings-eater and starts 30 games year in and year out.

I have Roark landing with the Mariners, due to the team’s need for starting pitching and my belief that Roark’s numbers would get a nice boost from pitching half his games at Safeco Field.

21.  Julio Teheran – Giants.  Three years, $25MM. A few years ago, it would’ve been unimaginable that the Atlanta Braves would let the ace of the team’s young staff hit free agency.

Yet, two lackluster years later, and Teheran will probably move on from Atlanta.

He’ll still only be 29 next season, which should appeal to clubs that aren’t ready to compete.

The Giants are one of those teams, and they need to add a few arms during free agency.

Teheran’s weakness is giving up the home run, which is something he’d be able to stifle in the Giants’ home park.

22.  Will Harris – Astros.  Two years, $18MM. Harris has been one of the most consistent relievers in the league for a few years for the Astros.

No way they let him walk.

23.  Drew Pomeranz – Royals.  One year, $8MM. It was a mixed bag for Pomeranz in 2019, after struggling as a starter with the Giants and finding success as a reliever with the Brewers.

Ultimately, it will be impossible to know how a team will plan to deploy him next season, but the guess here is that Pomeranz will want another chance to start, and that might have to come on a rebuilding team.

He would have plenty of opportunity to pitch on the 2020 version of the Kansas City Royals.

24.  Wade Miley – Astros.  Two years, $16MM. Not-broke-so-don’t-fix-it.

Miley had one of his best season’s last year with the Astros. After likely losing out on retaining P Gerrit Cole, keeping Miley will become more of a necessity.

25.  Corey Dickerson – Padres.  Two years, $16MM. After struggling with injuries in the first half of 2019 with the Pirates, Dickerson was traded and rebounded to have a strong second half with the Phillies.

He’s likely to parlay that performance into a starting job in the corner outfield.

The Padres have spots open, and the team’s lineup would be very deep with the addition of Dickerson.

26.  Travis d’Arnaud – Rays.  Two years, $14MM.  Another case of not-broke-so-don’t-fix-it.

d’Arnaud struggled with injuries every stop of his career, and wasn’t able to put it all together until this season with the Rays.

After a successful run and the versatility he provides, I expect the Rays will retain d’Arnaud.

27.  Chris Martin – Phillies.  Two years, $14MM. One of the Phillies’ biggest weaknesses out of the bullpen was the issuing of the free pass.

Enter Martin, who walked only 5 batters across 55 innings last season.

Seems like a fit to me.

28.  Daniel Hudson – Nationals.  Two years, $12MM. I forsee Hudson parlaying his strong 2019 season into a new contract with the Nationals.

One of the team’s playoff heroes, Hudson has fully rebounded from an injury plagued few seasons and was able to provide strong innings out of the back of the bullpen for Washington.

I expect the two sides will be able to work out a new deal.

29.  Avisail Garcia – Indians.  Two years, $18MM. Garcia had a solid season with the Rays last season, and I expect he will be able to get a little more than the Rays will be willing to offer in free agency.

The Indians have struggled with injuries in the outfield over the past couple seasons and are likely to let OF Yasiel Puig leave free agency.

Enter Garcia.

30.  Howie Kendrick – Mets.  Two years, $12MM.  After a strong postseason run, Kendrick will be sought after by contenders.

The Mets are a team hoping to make the postseason in 2020, and have multiple older players in positions where Kendrick could back them up. I see it as a decent fit.

31.  Rick Porcello – Padres.  Two years, $30MM. After missing out on some of the top names on the market, I think the Padres will go out and get a veteran pitcher to lead their staff.

Porcello has pretty much done it all in his career, and could benefit from pitching his home games in Petco Park.

Plus, I bet the Padres would be willing to overpay to secure his services.

32.  Brett Gardner – Yankees.  One year, $10MM. Could you really imagine him somewhere else?

Despite Gardner rising in age, he still provides value to a contending club.

The gut feel here is that the Yanks find a way to keep him around for another season.

33.  Robinson Chirinos – Astros.  Two years, $10MM. All is well in Houston, right?

Chirinos fits the Astros and the team’s pitching staff. Doubt they would let him leave.

34.  Jason Castro – Angels.  Two years, $10MM. Catcher has been a dark hole for the LA Angels for some time now.

I believe they address that this off season by bringing in Castro, who has regressed to a middle-tier offensive catcher at this point in his career.

However, even mid-tier is better than anything the Angels have received from the catcher’s spot over the last few seasons.

35.  Craig Stammen – Indians.  Two years, $10MM.  Stammen continued his late career resurgence with the Padres in 2019.

It’s tough to place middle relief options in free agency. Yet, I have him landing with the Indians.

36.  Steve Cishek – Diamondbacks.  Two years, $10MM.  Cishek has had a solid couple seasons with the Cubs, and could now be in a position to find a closer’s job.

Arizona could afford to add late inning arms, and Cishek would certainly be an affordable option.

37.  Yasiel Puig – Blue Jays.  One year, $10MM.  Puig is one of the toughest players to place on the list.

Apparently, he had bad blood when he left the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Then, the Reds were inspired to trade him after his antics ended in a benches clearing brawl in 2019.

In my mind, a team would need to be willing to take a risk with Puig.

The Toronto Blue Jays are one of MLB’s brightest up-and-coming teams, but aren’t expected to compete in 2020.

The team does have holes in the corner outfield, and adding Puig’s bat to the team’s lineup would certainly deepen it. Plus, if things go sour, Puig could be a fine Trade Deadline chip for the rebuilding club.

38.  Edwin Encarnacion – Yankees.  One year, $10MM.  I mean, they can’t really let The Parrot walk, right?

But seriously, after a year in which both 1B Greg Bird and 1B/DH Luke Voit were less than stellar, I think it’s a no-brainer for the Yanks to re-sign Encarnacion.

39.  Alex Wood – Cardinals.  Two years, $20MM.  Wood is another intriguing option on this list of free agent arms.

In 2019, Wood was only able to make seven starts with the Reds while dealing with injury all season.

However, he was able to start 27 games in 2018 and is only two years removed from a year that he started 25 games with a 2.72 ERA in just over 150 innings.

Due to his injury history, I expect that Wood won’t be able to land a long term deal, despite being 28-years-old.

The Cardinals appear to be a decent fit for Wood, as the team could use a left-handed starting option at a decent price.

40.  Adam Wainwright – Cardinals.  One year, $8MM.  To be honest, I though Wainwright might retire.

Then, I realized what a good season he had for a 38-year-old pitcher, and have read that Wainwright isn’t necessarily going to hang them up.

He’s a career Cardinal — that would never change. I expect he gives it one more go around with the Red Birds.

41.  Brock Holt – Phillies.  Two years, $8MM. Holt is one of the most versatile players on the market, and one of the Phillies’ weaknesses last year was bench depth.

Plus, manager Joe Girardi should be plenty familiar with what Holt can do, after managing against the former Red Sox player for years.

42.  Josh Lindblom – Padres.  Two years, $8MM. A precedent has been set for former Major League flame outs to return to The Show after some success in Korea while playing in the KBO.

Each of the past two off seasons has seen a pitcher return to the Majors, with mixed results.

I believe Lindblom will be the third, and could even return to his former team in the Padres, who will be turning over every rock to find pitching this off season.

43.  Dellin Betances – Phillies.  Two years, $16MM. Betances is coming off of an injury-plagued year that saw him make only one appearance all of 2019.

While the Phillies have been burned by injury-riddled bullpen acquisitions in recent seasons, Betances will still be considered one of the best relief options available, and has familiarity with manager Joe Girardi.

Plus, the opportunity to close some games in Philadelphia may be too enticing to pass up.

44.  Kole Calhoun – Pirates.  One year, $6MM.  Calhoun is coming off a season where he hit a career-high 33 HR’s, but it was the season of the juiced ball, of course.

With OF Shohei Otani returning to the mix and OF Jo Adell on the rise, I figure the Angels will let Calhoun move on.

Last off season, the Pirates tried to plug a corner outfield spot with the left-handed hitting Lonnie Chisenhall.

Unfortunately for the Buccos, Chisenhall was hurt for most of the season.

I think they attempt to get another left-handed hitting option in Calhoun.

45.  Shogo Akiyama – Rays.  Two years, $6MM.  To be honest, I don’t know much about Akiyama.

He’s a 31-year-old left-handed hitting outfielder that appears to be a decent option for the top of the order, due to his high on base percentage while playing in Japan.

My player comparison would be Nori Aoki, another former outfielder that transferred from Japan to MLB.

Of course, its tough to place Japanese players due a number of factors, but he would appear to be a fit for a contender, and would fit the Rays lineup well.

46.  Rich Hill – Dodgers.  One year, $8MM.  Rich Hill just keeps on pitching.

I would’ve thought he would’ve retired about five times by now, but he still finds a way to keep being productive.

The biggest issue with Hill is his injury history, and he is not likely to make it through a full season healthy.

However, he has provided the Dodgers a steady, veteran presence in their rotation and clubhouse the past few years, and I believe they will bring Hill back one last time in 2020.

47.  Michael Wacha – Twins.  One year, $8MM.  Wacha is one of the more interesting bounce-back candidates available in my opinion.

In arguably the worst season of his career in 2019, Wacha gave up 26 long balls and had an ERA of 4.76.

However, he is just a year removed from making 15 starts with a 3.20 ERA, so a return to form isn’t necessarily a laughable idea.

I believe the Twins will lose some of the guys in their rotation from last season, so adding Wacha into the mix on a cheap deal as a rebound candidate is just the type of move I could see Minnesota making.

48.  Ivan Nova – Rockies.  One year, $5MM.  The Rockies are another team that will be desperate to add starting pitching this off season.

Unfortunately for the team, I don’t know too many pitchers that will be signing up to pitch their home games at Coors Field.

Enter Nova, one of the game’s best ground ball pitchers.

If there were ever a fit for Colorado, it would be the sinker-baller. Plus, it also helps the dollar-conscious Rockies that Nova wouldn’t cost much, as well.

49.  Pedro Strop – Angels.  One year, $6MM.  While I believe the Angels primary focus will be the team’s starting staff, the team needs to make a few bullpen editions as well.

Strop was able to develop into one of the game’s better late inning options over the past few seasons with the Cubs, but ran into some struggles in 2019, finishing with an ERA near 5.00.

For the Angels, Strop would offer the team a late inning option that has closing experience and wouldn’t break the bank, making these two a fit.

50.  Drew Smyly – Mariners.  One year, $4MM.  Smyly was an end-of-year rebound candidate with the Phillies last season.

After posting a few good starts, Smyly stuggled with consistency down the stretch.

A fly ball pitcher, Smyly would fit best in a cavernous home park.

Safeco Field in Seattle would be a good fit, and the team is in need of rotation arms that will be able to eat up innings this season.


Thanks for checking out my picks! Keep up with all the moves this off season and let me know what you think in the comments!

Advertisements
Cale Ahearn

I am currently a Digital Content Producer at WPMT-FOX43, at least that's my day job. I am a graduate of Shippensburg University that majored in Communications/Journalism. My goal and dream is to cover professional sports for a living. I am a lifelong Philadelphia Sports fan, and am a diehard of the Phillies, Eagles, and Sixers. Ultimately, my goal is to make 789 Media the best it can be, your one-stop-shop for news, music and entertainment news, sports, and anything you could want for your homepage of your web browser to be. I hope you enjoy the content of our site as much as we enjoy creating it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s