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Baseball

2020 Top MLB Free Agents

With the 2020 free agency period starting up, teams will be looking to add to an already competing roster, while others will be looking to start a rebuild with one or two key pieces. There are a lot of great names out there, but we decided to look at the top 25 free agents and predict where they will land.

1. Gerrit Cole (RHP, Age: 29)
In my opinion, Gerrit Cole is easily the top free agent of the 2020 offseason. Coming off a 20 win season, while posting an American League-best 2.50 ERA and an MLB leading 326 strikeouts. Cole will be a complete game-changer for whichever club he lands on.
Prediction: Los Angeles Angels

CBS Sports

2. Stephen Strasburg (RHP, Age: 31)
The reigning World Series MVP turned down the remaining 4 years he had on his $100M contract. Coming off a National league-leading, and career-best 18 wins, Strasburg was nothing but dominant in the playoffs. He will be testing the free-agent market for the first time in his career.
Prediction: San Diego Padres

3. Anthony Rendon (3B, Age: 29)
The Nationals were looking to extend Rendon going into the regular season, but a deal was not done. Rendon is coming off an MVP caliber year, driving in an MLB best 126 RBI and being selected to his first All-Star game. Rendon will be looking to use this to gain a big deal contract.
Prediction: Washington Nationals

4. Madison Bumgarner (LHP, Age: 30)
Bumgarner has been on somewhat of a decline since the beginning of the 2017 campaign. Last year he finished the year 9-9 with a career-worst 3.90 ERA. Bumgarner could be looking for a team that he could try to recapture the dominance he once had.
Prediction: New York Yankees

5. Zack Wheeler (RHP, Age: 29)
Last year, Zack Wheeler was a bright spot in a shaky Mets organization. After being sent down to AAA early in the year, Wheeler returned to the majors to end the year with an 11-8 record and a 3.77 ERA. Wheeler has been through a lot, having come back from Tommy John surgery years ago, and all the chaos in the Mets’ front office. He will be looking to break free and sign a big-money deal.
Prediction: Atlanta Braves

New York Post

6. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LHP, Age: 32)
At one point, Hyun-Jin Ryu was thought to be in the running for the NL Cy Young Award but didn’t have a solid second half. He still had an MLB best 2.32 ERA, but had a 3.18 ERA in the second half. Ryu also pitched the most innings of his career last year with 182.2 innings pitched.
Prediction: Chicago Cubs

7. Yasmani Grandal (C, Age: 31)
Yasmani Grandal is in a unique situation. He is, in my opinion, the top catching free agent in the 2020 class. Grandal turned down a $16M option from Milwaukee, which means he is facing free agency for a second straight year. Grandal also cannot receive a qualifying offer, meaning he will more than likely be signing something for 4+ years.
Prediction: New York Mets

8. Josh Donaldson (3B, Age: 33)
After his 2018 season was cut short due to injury, Donaldson signed with the Atlanta Braves on a one year deal and looked really solid all year. Donaldson hit 37 home runs this year, matching the second-best total of his career and was a focal point of a hot Braves lineup. However, his 155 strikeouts are the most of his career.
Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals

9. Marcell Ozuna (OF, Age: 28)
Ozuna had a really good career as a member of the Miami Marlins. In his best season yet, 2017, Ozuna posted career-high numbers with 37 HRs and 124 RBIs. That success didn’t carry over to St. Louis unfortunately. In the two years Ozuna has been there, he hasn’t hit over 30 HRs or over 90 RBIs. While his numbers aren’t totally outrageous, the Cardinals outfield is looking very full at the moment.
Prediction: Texas Rangers

10. Nicholas Castellanos (OF, Age: 28)
While spending his entire career in Detroit, Castellanos was a product of a pretty bad team that wasn’t doing him any favors. But after hitting a career-high .298 in 2018, Castellanos was traded to the Cubs during the 2019 season. Castellanos played 51 games in Chicago, batting .321 with 16 HRs in that time.
Prediction: Chicago White Sox

11. Didi Gregorius (SS, Age: 29)
In the 2018 ALDS, Didi Gregorius injured his elbow, requiring him to have Tommy John surgery. When he returned to the team in 2019, he seemed to lack something at the plate. Gregorius only hit 16 HRs and 16 extra-base hits in the 2019 season. With Miguel Andujar returning to the Yankees, and the emergence of Gio Urshela, all signs point to Didi leaving New York.
Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers

Sports Illustrated

12. Jake Odorizzi (RHP, Age: 29)
Coming off his first All-Star year, Odorizzi burst onto the scene in 2019. He posted career-highs in wins (15), and strikeouts (178). Odorizzi also has started 28 or more games since 2014, showing he can stay healthy throughout the 162 game season. Odorizzi has age on his side and is definitely on the higher end of the second-tier of pitchers.
Prediction: Minnesota Twins

13. Dallas Keuchel (LHP, Age: 31)
Man oh man, do you remember free agency last year? Dallas Keuchel had a qualifying offer attached to him like the plague, which sent most teams running in the other direction. So what does Keuchel do? He waits until after the June amateur draft to sign, which removed the qualifying offer. No draft compensation is attached to his name this year, but was his decent work in Atlanta enough to get him big money?
Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies

14. Mike Moustakas (2B/3B, Age: 31)
Mike Moustakas cannot get a long term deal, and it’s kind of upsetting. This marks his third straight year in the free-agent market. In 2017, Moustakas turned down the qualifying offer, and actually wound up making less money in 2018 and 2019 combined than he would’ve had he accepted. Moustakas has hit 101 home runs over the past 3 years and hopefully will receive a long term deal.
Prediction: Cleveland Indians

15. Will Smith (LHP, Age: 30)
With Aroldis Chapman staying in New York, Will Smith will now be the most sought out free agent reliever. Smith doesn’t possess 99 MPH stuff like Chapman, but he has struck out 167 batters in the past two years, which is 36% of his batters faced.  Much like we saw with Keuchel last year, a qualifying offer could scare teams away, but I still imagine a front running team will foot the bill and grab Smith.
Prediction: Washington Nationals

16. Cole Hamels (LHP, Age: 36)
Cole Hamels is a Hall of Famer, that is my opinion. He’s a 4-time All-Star, that not only has a World Series ring in his trophy case, but also a World Series MVP. Hamels is in the twilight of his career. When Hamels was traded to Chicago last year, he pitched a 2.36 ERA in 12 starts, and a 3.30 ERA in his 39 total starts as a Cubbie. This is Hamels’ first time as a free agent, and I expect he will be trying to add another World Series to his accolades.
Prediction: Houston Astros

Bleacher Report

17. Yasiel Puig (OF, Age: 28)
I believe Puig isn’t going to get the type of deal that he probably thinks he’s going to get. He caught scrutiny when he didn’t run hard on a ground ball while his team was battling for a playoff spot. Not to mention, his performance doesn’t really seem all that worthy of a long term contract. I’m assuming Puig will have to sign a one-year deal on a team that isn’t in contention.
Prediction: Miami Marlins

18. Jose Abreu (1B/DH, Age: 32)
Former AL rookie of the year and three-time All-Star has, according to reports, already received a qualifying offer from the White Sox. He led the AL in runs with 123 in 2019 and has really been a great asset for the White Sox since defecting from Cuba, and I expect that relationship to continue here.
Prediction: Chicago White Sox

19. Edwin Encarnacion (DH/1B, Age: 36)
Edwin was traded to the New York Yankees from the Seattle Mariners in June of 2019. He put the pinstripes on and immediately performed well. In the 2019 playoffs, though? I don’t think anybody knows what really happened. Encarnacion is entering his age 37 season but will still be looking to show he can perform at the levels he’s shown. The Rays missed out on Nelson Cruz last year, I expect them to try to land a similar player.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays

20. Brett Gardner (OF, Age: 36)
I truly am trying to take my bias out of the equation here, but I do not see Brett Gardner in any uniform except the Yankees. For 12 years Gardner has been a mainstay in the Yankees organization with him and CC Sabathia being the only two players from the 2009 World Series victory left on the team last year. I expect Garnder to sign a one-year deal and remain in the Bronx.
Prediction: New York Yankees

21. Travis d’Arnaud (C, Age: 30)
I see Travis d’Arnaud as the second-best catcher in the free-agent market behind Grandal. He has been apart of two big trades when the Phillies acquired Roy Halladay and was sent (with Noah Syndergaard) to the Mets for R.A. Dickey. When d’Arnaud finally landed in Tampa, he had somewhat of a career resurgence batting .323 with 67 RBIs in his 92 games in Tampa.
Prediction: Cincinnati Reds

CBS Sports

22. Michael Pineda (RHP, Age: 30)
Pineda signed with the Twins back in 2017 after he had Tommy John surgery. He missed the entire 2018 season but Minnesota was focused on 2019. Pineda had a decent season, going 11-5 with a 4.01 ERA. Unfortunately, Pineda was hit with an 80-game suspension that he later appealed down to a 60-game suspension. Either way, Pineda will miss the first 39 games of the 2020 season.
Prediction: Toronto Blue Jays

23. Will Harris (RHP, Age: 35)
Harris pitched well for the Astros in the 2019 season. He posted a 1.50 ERA in 60 innings worked and fanned 62 batters. In the postseason Harris pitched a total of 5.2 innings in the ALDS and ALCS, and hadn’t given up a run. However, in the World Series Harris pitched 4 innings and gave up 2 home runs, including one to Howie Kendrick that honestly was a terrific pitch that Kendrick just went and got. Harris will still get attention from teams looking for bullpen help.
Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers

24. Rick Porcello (RHP, Age: 30)
A former Cy Young winner, Rick Porcello is somewhat of a workhorse. Over the past nine seasons, Porcello has made 281 starts, which is only behind Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Jon Lester in that time. However, with that high work rate, comes a lot of hits and a lot of runs. Porcello had a career-worst 5.52 ERA last year and gave up a career-high 107 earned runs. Even though those numbers are bad, I still believe Porcello will bounce back and put up decent numbers.
Prediction: New York Mets

25. Dellin Betances (RHP, Age: 31)
I feel for Dellin Betances, I really do. He had an incredible 5 years with the Yankees where he posted a 2.22 ERA in that time. But a shoulder injury crept up in Spring Training, keeping Betances out until September. September comes around, and Betances pitches 0.2 innings, striking out both batters, before tearing his left Achilles tendon. Betances is definitely a risky contract to give, but the reward would be incredible.
Prediction: Houston Astros

Bleacher Report

Other names left out is pitcher Julio Teheran, outfielder Avisail Garica, and pitcher Tanner Roark. All three of those players should be looking for big money, as Teheran and Roark still have great stuff, while Garcia will be looking to prove the hype surrounding his name is more than just that.

Featured photo source: Mike Rosa/Game Changer Sports Network

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