MLB Free Agency Predictions
MLB free agency has been a slow process in recent years. That is set to be exaggerated by COVID-19 further reigning in owners who are already shy of spending. There’s still uncertainty over what the 2021 MLB season will look like, and there’s a raft of free agents who don’t know where they’ll be playing.
The reigning National League Cy Young winner, an elite catcher and an All-Star outfielder have hit the market. Behind them, there’s an infielder who shone with the Yankees and a former Marlins outfielder.
5 MLB Free Agency Predictions 2020/21
Here are the top five MLB free agents for the 2020/21 offseason.
Free agency is often complex, and never more so than with Trevor Bauer. The National League Cy Young winner is an abrasive character. He’s outspoken on social media, he’s fallen out with seemingly half of MLB and he’s keen to sign with a contender who embraces technology (Bauer is the greatest success story of Driveline).
Previously wanting a one-year deal, it’s thought Bauer could sign a longer pact, but it will take a huge financial commitment for the former Arizona Diamondback to relinquish control over his future.
Every team in MLB should want Bauer. For financial and personality reasons, that’s unlikely to be the case despite his dominant 2020 season.
Prediction: New York Mets, five years, $150 million with multiple opt outs.
Is J.T. Realmuto the best catcher in baseball? Many would say he is, and he’s certainly looking to be paid like that – the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Realmuto’s camp are looking for a deal close to what Paul Goldschmidt signed with the Cardinals: five years, $130 million.
After giving up star prospect Sixto Sanchez to land Realmuto, the Phillies need to re-sign the All-Star catcher. Realmuto is an above-average hitter and an all-round exceptional defender at his position.
The Mets, Angels and Blue Jays are all teams to watch in the race for Realmuto. There’s sufficient pressure on the Phillies to force them to outbid everyone, though.
Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies, five years, $135 million
Playing alongside Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman, George Springer’s brilliance has been underrated. Only a handful of hitters have bettered his 153 wRC+ since the start of 2019, and he can still play a solid center field. Experience of playing in right will help teams plan for the back end of his contract.
The sign stealing scandal might have an impact on how fans perceive Springer, but it’s unlikely to put off front offices.
It’s a question of if Houston will pay him. They’ve already got big contracts committed and will need to extend Correa soon. A lot of teams get better with Springer – how good would he look alongside Goldschmidt?
Prediction: St Louis Cardinals, four years, $110 million
Teams overlooked DJ LeMahieu when he was a free agent a couple of winters ago. The Yankees snapped him up for a bargain two years and $24 million – LeMahieu was a legitimate MVP contender in both his seasons in New York.
Playing plus defense at second, third and occasionally first, LeMahieu brings everything a manager could want. The combination of reliable hitting and elite defense will see him get paid this winter.
A return to the Yankees is the most likely outcome, though Brian Cashman could look elsewhere if they swing a trade for Francisco Lindor or focus on next season’s loaded infield free agency.
Prediction: New York Yankees, five years, $75 million
The future of Marcell Ozuna will depend on the universal DH. Ozuna’s defense has collapsed following injuries during his time as a Cardinal – he’s a liability in the field now. National League teams are not going to pay him big money if there’s no DH.
Ozuna had an outrageous 2020, ranking among the best hitters in baseball in an array of Statcast categories and smashing 18 homers.
He improves every line-up in the sport. If, as expected, the DH is confirmed in the NL for 2021, there will be huge demand for Ozuna.
Prediction: San Diego Padres, four years, $80 million