While the expiration of the baseball collective bargaining agreement has put MLB’s hot oven down for the time being, the looming threat of a lockout led to an early off-season signing deadline, which led to the kind of excitement normally only seen around the trading deadline.
Quite a few of the best off-season free agents signed up before the lockout, but when a new CBA is worked out there will still be some valuable players available. While we wait for the lockdown to end, 10 free agents can be seen here when the off-season resumes.
Carlos Correa, SS
The top player who was available at the start of the offseason remains the top player who is available now. Correa, still only 27, has played in the major leagues for seven seasons and comes from a 2021 MVP in which he led the Houston Astros to their third World Series appearance in five years. Correa has just won the platinum glove awarded to the best defensive player in baseball, beating .279 with 26 home runs, 92 RBI and a .850 OPS. He’ll likely have a monster contract of nearly 10 years and well over $ 300 million, but this could still be a bargain for one of the best baseball players just now beginning their prime.
Kris Bryant, 3B / OF
As the former MVP who led the Chicago Cubs to their historic World Series championship in 2016, Bryant is a proven winner who continued to demonstrate uniquely versatility in 2021. 265 with 25 home runs, 73 RBI and one .835 OPS, he proved that he is still an impressive hitter even after a lost 2020 season. Bryant will turn 30 when the 2022 season kicks off, but after 31-year-old Marcus Semien signed for seven years and $ 175 million, the market for Bryant should be similarly resilient.
Freddie Freeman, 1B
It’s hard to imagine Freddie Freeman playing anywhere other than Atlanta. The 32-year-old has played his entire 12-year career with the Braves, earning five All-Star Nicks during that time, winning the 2020 NL MVP Award and leading the Braves to their first World Series title in 26 years Fall. Still, Atlanta could have worked out an extension with Freeman long ago, and now he could leave after a title similar to Albert Pujols a decade ago after leading the Cardinals to the 2011 championship.
Trevor Story, SS
Trevor Story has consistently been one of the top hit shortstops in baseball for his six major league seasons, and in addition to his standout bat, he’s also a sneaky, dangerous baserunner. At 29, he’s still in the prime of his career and should get a big long-term deal, albeit probably not a Correa-level deal, which should make him attractive to medium-sized teams looking to make the leap to the playoffs.
Seiya Suzuki, OF
The reigning MVP of the Japanese Nippon Professional Baseball League, Seiya Suzuki, was employed by the Hiroshima Toyo Carp and is considered to be the best Japanese baseball player to make the leap into the MLB since Shohei Ohtani. Known for his Juan Soto-like combination of strength and plate discipline, the 27-year-old Suzuki also has an excellent limb.
Nick Castellanos, OF
Nick Castellanos has grown into one of the most prolific power hitters in baseball. The 29-year-old was enjoying a 2021 breakout season, hitting a career high of 34 home runs with 100 RBI to make his first All-Star appearance.
Clayton Kershaw, Sp
A future Hall of Famer and one of the best pitchers of his generation, 33-year-old Kershaw may be near the end of his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Kershaw posted an ERA of 3.55 in 2021, but increasing injuries is becoming a significant problem. If he chooses to continue his career and stay healthy, Kershaw could be a fantastic addition to any team he ends up on, but in some ways it’s hard to imagine him pitching Ravine anywhere else as Chavez.
Kenley Jansen, RP
As one of the best closers of the last decade, Kenley Jansen showed he still has it after posting 38 saves with a 2.22 ERA for the Dodgers last season. At 34, Jansen is on the older side, but he remains available among the top relief pitchers and should be in great demand.
Carlos Rodon, Sp
Carlos Rodon has some question marks about his health and consistency, but one of the best pitchers in baseball on an inning basis. Last year, the 28-year-old enjoyed a breakout season hitting a 2.37 ERA with an impressive 185 strikeouts in just 132.2 innings.
Kyle Schwarber, OF
Kyle Schwarber wrote one of the most productive months for any player in baseball history in June, scoring 16 home runs at the Washington Nationals, and after joining the Boston Red Sox at close of trading, helped run the club to the ALCS. Aside from his home run power, he is characterized by a patient approach to the record, as well as his tendency to make it big in important places.
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