With Trevor Bauer signing a three-year, $102 million deal with the Dodgers (with two opt-outs), all of the top 10 MLB free agents this winter as ranked by MLB Trade Rumors have found a new home for 2021. That said, with a little over a week until the official start of Spring Training, there are still several potential difference makers who remain unsigned, from potential ace-level starters to Gold Glovers and power hitters. Let’s take a look at the top 10 remaining free agents as we quickly approach mid-February:
1) Jake Odorizzi, SP
2020: 0-1, 6.59 ERA, 12 K, 3 BB in 13 ⅔ IP
Odorizzi is now the top remaining starter on the free agent market and would make sense for several teams as a No. 3 level starter. The 6.59 ERA posted by the veteran right-hander in 2020 is misleading, as Odorizzi tossed just 13 ⅔ innings due to a blister and a chest injury that occurred when he was hit by a line drive. In the last two full seasons, the soon-to-be 31-year-old pitched to a solid 4.01 ERA while striking out just over a batter per inning. One recent report indicated that Odorizzi is seeking a three-year deal worth around $45 million, and the Cardinals, Angels, Giants, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Twins have all been connected to him.
2) Justin Turner, 3B
2020: .307/.400/.460, 4 HR, 26 R, 23 RBI in 42 games
It’s seemed inevitable that Turner would end up back with the Dodgers, but months have passed without a deal and the defending World Champions have spent big money elsewhere in Bauer. They’re still the likely favorites to sign the top third baseman on the market this offseason, having not addressed the position otherwise, but would seem unlikely to give Turner the four-year deal he’s reportedly seeking. Turner remains a great hitter and solid defender, but has a rather extensive injury history and is now 36 years old. The Brewers and Braves have also been connected to Turner.
3) Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
2020: .283/.364/.450, 7 HR, 5 SB, 32 R, 22 RBI in 55 games
Bradley is best known as a standout defensive center fielder, though agent Scott Boras is undoubtedly trying to sell the 30-year-old’s .814 OPS in 2020 as a sign his bat deserves some real respect. The underlying metrics indicate a player who’s likely to regress back to something near .240 with 18 homers and 10 steals, which combined with that defense would still make him a solid addition for several clubs. The Mets have been connected to Bradley but also recently added Albert Almora. Other teams who’ve reportedly talked with Bradley’s camp include the Red Sox, Phillies, Astros and Giants. A recent report indicated Bradley’s asking for a significant contract perhaps longer than four years, would could very well explain why nothing has materialized yet.
4) James Paxton, SP
2020: 1-1. 6.64 ERA, 26 K, 7 BB in 20 ⅓ IP
Odorizzi may be the consensus top starter on the free agent market, but Paxton carries the highest upside of anyone still available. The 32-year-old struggled in 2020 while dealing with elbow trouble, but from 2017-19 Paxton pitched like a borderline ace when healthy, posting a 3.54 ERA and 3.26 FIP while striking out over 11 batters per nine innings. He’s likely only looking at a one or two-year deal due to the injury concerns, though Boras, his agent, could be pushing for more. As many as 20 teams were present for his free agent showcase back in December, and the Phillies, Cardinals and Blue Jays have been mentioned recently as potential suitors. As a low-risk, upside play, Paxton could make sense for several clubs.
5) Trevor Rosenthal, RP
2020: 1.90 ERA, 11 SV, 38 K, 8 BB in 23 ⅔ IP
While several pitchers with late-inning experience remain unsigned (Mark Melancon, Shane Greene, Brandon Kintzler, etc.), Rosenthal is pretty clearly the top reliever still on the market. The hard-throwing right-hander fell apart to the tune of a horrific 13.50 ERA between three clubs in 2019, but after joining the Royals on a minor league deal prior the 2020 campaign, Rosenthal rediscovered his previous form with Kansas City and San Diego, as the above numbers indicate. Like Bradley and Paxton, Rosenthal has for his agent Scott Boras, who’s certainly not afraid to wait things out for a good deal. There hasn’t been a ton of buzz regarding possible landing spots for the 30-year-old, though Blue Jays and Padres have reportedly expressed interest this winter.
6) Taijuan Walker, SP
2020: 4-3, 2.70 ERA, 50 K, 19 BB in 53 ⅓ IP
Walker’s 3.64 ERA since the start of the 2016 season ranks 28th among all MLB starters, just behind Luis Castillo, Carlos Martinez and Dallas Keuchel and just ahead of Yu Darvish. There’s no doubt Walker has been effective in recent years, though Tommy John surgery and a shoulder issue limited him to just 14 total innings between 2018 and 2019. Still just 28 years old, Walker is one of the youngest free agent pitchers and could land a nice two or three-year deal. He’s coming off a strong 2020 season and like Odorizzi would make sense for several clubs. The Cardinals, Phillies, Blue Jays and Tigers have been connected to him in recent weeks.
7) Adam Duvall, OF
2020: .237/.301/.532, 16 HR, 34 R, 33 RBI in 57 games
Duvall finished third in the National League in home runs in 2020 yet finds himself still without a job just days before the start of spring training. The Braves surprisingly non-tendered him back in early December and there’s been little talk of potential suitors since then. Duvall has his limitations — low OBP, little speed, etc. — to be sure, but he’s an above average defender in the outfield corners with legitimate 30-homer pop. The Marlins, Cardinals and A’s could be potential fits.
8) Cole Hamels, SP
2020: 0-1, 8.10 ERA, 2 K, 1 BB in 3 ⅓ IP
It’s certainly possible that at age 37, Hamels is done as an effective MLB pitcher. The injuries he dealt with in 2020 (lingering shoulder and triceps issues) certainly weren’t minor. But the four-time All-Star is also just a year removed from posting a 3.81 ERA over roughly 140 innings with the Cubs in 2019 and could be a solid addition for the back end of a rotation. The left-hander hasn’t been directly connected to many teams this offseason. The Giants, A’s, Twins and Cubs are among several possibilities that could make sense.
9) Mitch Moreland, 1B
2020: .265/.342/.551, 10 HR, 22 R, 29 RBI in 42 games
Moreland’s profile isn’t all that exciting, but he’s remained productive at the plate into his mid-30s, is a solid defensive first baseman, and hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down, posting career-best OPS marks in each of the last two seasons. The veteran is best deployed in a platoon role against right-handers, and a return to Boston, where he played for most of the last four seasons, could make sense. Colorado, Detroit and Pittsburgh are other potential fits.
10) Mark Melancon, RP
2020: 2.78 ERA, 11 SV, 14 K, 7 BB in 22 ⅔ IP
It makes sense that many of the younger, higher upside relievers would sign before Melancon, but now it’s time for the veteran to get paid following another impressive, under-the-radar season. The 35-year-old’s strikeout numbers have declined greatly, which is likely a concern for some clubs, but the groundball pitcher continued to get results in the shortened season, logging 11 saves for the Braves. Since the start of the 2017 season, Melancon has posted a 3.57 ERA and 3.18 FIP across nearly 160 frames. There’s been next to no reports regarding Melancon’s market this offseason. Although teams may view him as more of a setup man than a closer, Melancon could still be a key addition for a club such as the Angels, Giants or Phillies.
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