Welcome to November. We made it. Congratulations to the Los Angeles Dodgers for their World Series victory. Was a long time coming but they finally completed the task with their $108,417,397 dollar payroll opposed to the great Tampa Bay Rays and their $28,290,689 dollar payroll. However, a win is a win and congrats to everyone in the Dodgers organization. With the conclusion of 2020 season comes expiring contracts. There are some very intriguing options out there, some of which could really help bolster some teams into being competitive if all the stars align. Let’s discuss two of the top free agents from each position and where they could possibly land.
Has received Qualifying offer
No better place to start. Possibly the biggest free agent available this off-season, Realmuto is guaranteed to surpass the $100 million mark and if he were a little younger and had a team that was willing to keep him around, Realmuto definitely would have surpassed Buster Posey’s 8yr $159,000,000 dollar deal he signed way back in 2013. It’s not secret Realmuto can do it all. From 2015-2019 (not including the stats from the shortened 2020 season) Realmuto averages 30 doubles, four triples, 17 home runs, 63 RBI, eight steals, while slashing .279/.328/.454–781 OPS per 135 games. Realmuto is no slouch behind the dish either as he led all of catchers in 2019 in caught stealing percentage with nailing 47% would be base stealers. Of course, every team wishes they could get J.T. Realmuto but it seems the only teams who are going to be seriously involved are the bigger market teams. The Phillies have came out and said they would like to try and negotiate and contract, as well as some personal endorsement from Bryce Harper, but the Yankees and Mets have been rumored to make a run for him. Everything is speculation at this point and it’s a true toss up where Realmuto wants to end up playing.
Even after McCann’s coming out party in 2019, the White Sox still went out and paid the premium price for Yasmani Grandal. After clearly showing they did not view McCann as their backstop of the future, McCann still went out and played in 31 of the 60 games and still slashed a healthy .289/.360/.536 with seven home runs, 15 RBI, three doubles, and 20 runs through 97 at bats. McCann has a 36% caught stealing rate and a .993% fielding percentage. McCann is a quality catcher when given the opportunity and will be highly sought after for teams needing a rare hitting catcher with the ability to hold it down on the defensive end. Whoever does not get Realmuto between the Phillies or Mets, look for that team to go right after McCann as a backup option. A good one at that.
If Carlos Santana was around during the “Moneyball” era, he would have been Billy Beane’s number one overall pick. Most likely would have been traded after a couple good seasons, but the man has built a career doing what most can’t. Santana has built a great career not being afraid to take the walk even possessing over the fence power. After an off year in the shortened 2020 season that saw him slash .199/.349/.350 with eight home runs, 30 RBI, and STILL having more walks than strikeouts as he finished with 47 walks (leading the American League) opposed to 43 strikeouts. Santana was struck by some bad luck with his BABIP average coming in at .212. All that means is Santana is due for a bounce back year. Santana could also get behind the dish and catch a couple games to give the regular catcher a day off or two so whoever signs him will be getting a little bit of versatility. Santana will be 35 when the 2021 season starts but should be a great signing on a 2 year deal. Although the Rays do have a plethora of guys that can play first base, Santana would be a great hitter in a lineup that needs a big bat. Then again, I’m sure almost every team in need of a first baseman will be in on him.
Mitch Moreland or Asdrubal Cabrera? Who would you rather have? That is what I just asked myself and I chose Cabrera for one reason; versatility. Both have won a World Series, both have All-Star appearances and are now considered veterans. Cabrera just have the versatility upside that Moreland does not. Cabrera can play all infield position, bat anywhere in the order and still has a little bit of pop left in his bat. I assume he will get signed by a contender as a bat off the bench or by a team just needing to hold a spot over for an up and coming rookie. Either way, Cabrera will either have to sign a cheap one year deal, or get brought on by a Minor League offer. Either way, he could help in both conditions.
Has received Qualifying Offer
Funny to think that people thought LeMahieu might suffer from being away from the confines of Coors Field. Fast forward two years and we could be looking at the American League MVP. it’s no secret LeMahieu will get $100 million. The question becomes how many years will he command and get? LeMahieu slashed .364/.421/.590– 1.011 OPS, 177 OPS+, 10 home runs, 27 RBI, and 10 doubles. All that was through 50 games and he led the league in batting average, on base percentage, OPS, and OPS+. The Yankees have extended a qualifying offer which is $18.9 million, but Lemahieu will certainly decline that and wait for an offer in the $100 million range. I’m sure the Yankees will offer the most money and he will accept but in case that doesn’t come to fruition, it will most likely be a higher market team making him a nice offer.
After Lemahieu, the second base position levels out to players that offer a specific value and don’t contribute in many facets of the game, like Lemahieu. It was between Schoop, Jonathan Villar, and Kolten Wong and I believed Schoop will give you what you pay for. He’s a solid defender, can still hit, and is consistent. On a young Detroit team, Schoop solidified the lineup with his cemented role between 2-4 being a constant professional and coming up clutch when needed. Schoop has been with three teams the past three seasons but looked comfortable in Detroit. In my opinion, it would be in their best interest to sign a guy like Schoop who you can rely on and then worry about other needs from there. A 2-3 year deal, which would put Schoop in Detroit through his age 32 season, would be most beneficial for both parties but I’m sure any team needing to fill the void at second base would love to have the steady presence of a veteran like Schoop in their day to day lineup.
Easily the best third baseman available, Turner will be 36 when the 2021 season starts and seems to showing no signs of slowing down from an offensive standpoint. Through 42 games in 2020, Turner slashed .307/.400/.460– .860 OPS for all the math wizards out there, along with four home runs, 23 RBI, 9 doubles all the while being a consistent and clutch performer batting third in a loaded Dodgers lineup. Although age will 100% factor into his contract negotiations, a two-year deal should be well worth it for both sides and the Dodgers are one team that should not have a problem opening up the check book for a man that helped win the Dodgers their first World Series since 1988. If the DH does indeed stay in the NL, that should make the decision for the Dodgers to resign him alot easier but in the case the Dodgers want to move on and start developing their younger talent, there should be MANY takers for his services. (Cough cough Tampa Bay Rays cough cough.)
There are a couple guys at third who could maybe put themselves in this conversation but it seems Marwin is the lucky guy to have me speak about them. Marwin is as versatile as it comes. Him and Chris Taylor of the Dodgers are the most versatile guys in baseball besides every Rays player basically. Gonzalez had a bit of a down year through his 53 games slashing .211/.286/.320 with five home runs and 22 RBI. Not much of a runner and not the greatest defender but is a great plug and play player that can be average at every position on the diamond besides catcher. Someone needing to hold on a spot for a rookie to emerge or a contender will re-up Gonzalez on a one year deal.
Semien had an unbelievably good 2019 that saw him finish third in the MVP voting for the American League. He’s always had the tools and finally put it all together that year to only come back and place a dud in the shortened 2020 season. The A’s don’t seem to be putting too much stock into the shortened season as both the General Manager, David Forst, and notorious penny pincher, Billy Beane, both seem very interested on bringing him back on what would be very uncharacteristic of the cost concerned Oakland A’s. If he does not sign with Oakland, look for Semien to score it big with whoever wants to pay him.
Talk about making the most of your opportunities during a shortened season. Didi had a great 2020 through 60 games slashing .284/.339/.488– .827 OPS, 10 home runs, 40 RBI, and 10 doubles. A far cry from his 2019 with the Yankees where he batted .238 through 82 games. Philly has bigger fish to fry on that roster but a shortstop like Didi does not fall in your lap often. If Philly does not capitalize on their opportunity I’m sure a shortstop hungry team with a little dough in their pocket would love to negotiate with Gregorius. Look for the Angels to try and reel him in if Andrelton Simmons does not re-up with them this off-season.
There aren’t many consistent hitters like Brantley still left. When healthy, Brantley is easily one of the better pure hitters baseball has. Doesn’t chase too many pitches, doesn’t swing and miss alot, and squares up alot of baseballs. Brantley can hit in the middle of the lineup for hit in the two hole and be just as much of a threat. With the DH most likely being permanently implemented in both leagues, it just helps Brantley’s case out that much more. The one aspect not on Brantley’s side is his age and being injury prone. Injuries are no secret in his career and unfortunately the older your get the more prone to injuries you become. Duh. But if the Stros do not get Springer back, I would assume Brantley will get a 2-3 year contract at most. If not, he can help multiple teams out with being a left handed bat.
Honorable Mentions- Brett Gardner, Joc Pederson, Ryan Braun, Jay Bruce
Has received Qualifying Offer
Arguably the most highly sought after free agent this off-season, Springer will definitely deny his Qualifying Offer he was given by the Astros and take the highest bidder. It’s not often one of baseballs better hitters, let alone a centerfielder, is available for negotiations. One thing Springer has going for him that most free agents don’t is his postseason resume. He has been to the postseason every year of his career except for 2014, his rookie year. The rest or his ability speaks for itself. The man can hit, is a leader, and isn’t a slouch on the field either. It should be interesting if the Astros do not sign Springer to a deal as he should command well over $100 million and whoever signs him will definitely be a bigger market team. The question then becomes, which one?
Honorable Mentions– Jackie Bradley Jr, Kevil Pillar, Billy Hamilton
Eaton’s one full healthy year with the Nationals proves to any teams that wants his services that there could still be a very productive hitter still in there. The question then becomes, “does he have a few good seasons left in him?” If the answer is yes, then it’s “can he stay healthy?” Eaton’s shortened season was not a pretty one as he career worsts across the board but did make note of not feeling comfortable with no fans in the stands. I’m sure Eaton will sign a “prove it” one year deal and either continue with those for the rest of his career or grab a couple two year offers to ride off into the sunset. Or could just never retire.
Honorable Mentions- Cameron Maybin, Yasiel Puig, Josh Reddick
The ageless wonder. The man just won’t stop hitting and now with the DH being in both leagues, now all 30 teams can get in on some Nelson Cruz. Even with the shortened season, Cruz still slashed .303/.397/.595– .992 OPS with 16 home runs, 33 RBI and played in 53 of the 60 total games. He needs 83 home runs to make it to 500 so I assume someone will either try and sign him to a a two year deal or he will go year by year. The only question is, “when will he slow down?”
An absolute monster season by every stretch of the imagination. Not going to lie, as a Braves fan, I wasn’t skeptical but I was hesitant on the amount of money which he was given. Now I’m starting to think the Braves owe HIM a little bit more. Ozuna led the league in home runs (18), RBI (56), and total bases (145). Not to mention how clutch of a hitter he was when the Braves needed him. He can play left and right field and of course DH. Personally, I’m really hoping the Braves resign him to at least a three year deal but I’ll take any deal. If the Braves do not sign him, I’m sure he will maybe even push for a four year deal and be able to obtain that. One thing is for sure though, the man will get PAID.
Honorable Mentions- Howie Kendrick, Edwin Encarnacion, Brad Miller, Derek Dietrich