As winter meetings arrive, a look at the top MLB free agents
Patrick Corbin and Josh Donaldson are already signed, but there are plenty of significant free agents still available heading into the winter meetings this week. The market appears less sluggish than a year ago, and Machado and Harper will remain focal points.
Here’s a look at the top free agents — broken down by position — who are still available. Players are listed with their most recent teams, with their ages in parentheses:
Dallas Keuchel, Astros (30)
With Corbin off the board , Keuchel may be the top remaining starter on the market. He slipped a bit after his Cy Young-winning performance of 2015, but this past season was encouraging from a health standpoint. He made a career-high 34 starts and posted a 3.74 ERA.
Other options: J.A. Happ hasn’t had an ERA over 3.65 in any of the past four seasons. At 36, he’s a risky bet for a long-term deal, but he could be a helpful addition for a contender if the price is right. Drew Pomeranz had a rough 2018, but he’s still only 30 and went 17-6 two seasons ago.
Zach Britton, Yankees (30)
The question here is: Who do you trust more, Britton or Andrew Miller? Both lefties have dealt with recent injury troubles. Britton is the younger of the two, but he has a long way to go if he’s going to return to his 2014-16 peak.
Other options: The 33-year-old Miller had a 4.24 ERA in 37 appearances this year and spent time on the disabled list. His track record remains impressive, but 2018 was not a great note to enter free agency. Oliver Perez posted a 1.39 ERA in 32 1/3 innings for Cleveland this season, but that was easily his best showing in years.
Charlie Morton, Astros (35)
Morton has a chance to cash in on two impressive years in Houston, in which he made 55 starts and went 29-10 with a 3.36 ERA. At his age, he’s not an ideal long-term pick, but neither is anyone else in this group.
Other options: Lance Lynn went 10-10 with a 4.77 ERA for the Twins and Yankees this year, but he averaged over a strikeout an inning for the first time since 2012. Prior to this season, he’d never posted an ERA higher than 3.97. Trevor Cahill went 7-4 with a 3.76 ERA this year, but he made only 20 starts — and that was his most since 2013. Matt Harvey hasn’t turned 30 yet and showed some signs of rebounding during a serviceable stint with Cincinnati.
Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox (30)
Kimbrel isn’t as dominant as he was toward the beginning of his career, but after a 42-save season for the champion Red Sox, he’s the biggest star among the available relievers. Kimbrel turned down a qualifying offer, so his free agency has compensation attached.
Other options: Jeurys Familia did not receive a qualifying offer, and he’s a year younger than Kimbrel. There are plenty of other familiar names available too, such as David Robertson, Kelvin Herrera, Adam Ottavino, Cody Allen and Bud Norris.
Yasmani Grandal, Dodgers (30)
Grandal had a difficult postseason — and he turned down a qualifying offer after the season — but it’s hard to ignore his productivity with the bat. He’s hit at least 22 homers for three years running.
Other options: All-Star Wilson Ramos was hurt for a bit last season but hit well after being traded to Philadelphia. Jonathan Lucroy’s on-base percentage plummeted to .291 in 2018, but at age 32, he could bounce back.
Matt Adams, Cardinals (30)
Not a terribly inspiring group at this position. Adams hit fine for the Nationals last season but batted only .158 in 27 games after returning to St. Louis.
Other options: Logan Morrison’s 38-homer season in 2017 looks like an outlier right now. He hit only 15 in 95 games this year and battled hip problems. Lucas Duda managed only 14 home runs in 107 games last season.
Brian Dozier, Dodgers (31)
It was an uncharacteristically poor year with the bat for Dozier, but he remains the player with the most upside among a deep group of free-agent second basemen. He hit 104 homers from 2015-17.
Other options: There are plenty. DJ LeMahieu is relatively young at age 30, although his home-road splits in recent years suggest a move from Colorado could hurt his production. Daniel Murphy, Jed Lowrie and, at the older end of the spectrum, Ian Kinsler are all available. Asdrubal Cabrera and Josh Harrison get points for versatility.
Mike Moustakas, Brewers (30)
With 66 home runs in the past two years, Moustakas stands out in a market that’s a bit underwhelming in terms of corner infielders now that Donaldson is taken .
Other options: Well … maybe some team can convince Adrian Beltre to change his mind on retirement ? Otherwise, it’s hard to say who is next on the list behind Moustakas. Teams desperate for help at third base might want to consider acquiring someone like Harrison or Cabrera and putting him there.
Manny Machado, Dodgers (26)
Machado obviously would also top the list of third baseman if he went back to that position, but he played mostly shortstop this year. At 26, he’s very much in his prime and coming off a stellar season in which he hit .297 with 37 home runs and 107 RBIs. He is at worst the second-best free agent available.
Other options: The well runs pretty dry here after Machado. Jose Iglesias offers slick fielding and can hit a decent number of doubles. Iglesias, Adeiny Hechavarria and Freddy Galvis haven’t turned 30 yet. Alcides Escobar offers impressive durability after playing a full 162 games in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
Bryce Harper, Nationals (26)
Michael Brantley, Indians (31)
Andrew McCutchen, Yankees (32)
Along with Machado, Harper is the cream of this free-agent crop. Last season was a struggle at times, but he still ended up with 34 homers and 100 RBIs. Brantley enjoyed a nice rebound this year, hitting .309 with 17 home runs. McCutchen has slipped from his MVP-level peak, but he still managed to extend his streak to eight straight seasons with at least 20 homers.
Other options: A.J. Pollock hasn’t played close to a full season since 2015, but he can be a valuable center fielder when he’s in the lineup. Adam Jones and Carlos Gonzalez are intriguing but are getting into their mid-30s. Marwin Gonzalez couldn’t repeat his excellent 2017 season at the plate, but he played every position except pitcher and catcher this year.
Nelson Cruz, Mariners (38)
Cruz is still going strong, with five straight seasons of at least 37 home runs. Seattle is undergoing an offseason overhaul after trading Cano, Edwin Diaz and James Paxton, but Cruz figures to draw interest somewhere in the American League.