Now that the World Series is over, it’s time to turn our attention to the free agent market. We don’t have a complete list yet of people who will be free agents, as players and teams can decline options and become free agents. But we’re not interested in a complete list, rather the top of the market. So, let’s use the list of the 25-best free agents from MLB.com and give thoughts to how they might fit on the Mets, what they might get in a “normal” year and what team might sign them. The latter two are primarily for fun, not anything on which to wager. There are no crystal balls nor stays in Holiday Inn Express involved in these guesses.

J.T. Realmuto
A two-way player at a prime position of need for the Mets. In a vacuum, he’s the ideal acquisition. But he’s looking for a big payday, both in dollars and years. The dollars aren’t the issue – it’s the years. That’s because one of the team’s top prospects is a catcher, one who should be ready in three years or so. Realmuto has visions of a seven-year deal dancing in his head. That makes no sense for the Mets.
Prediction – Phillies, 6/$132

Trevor Bauer
The Mets need lots of starters and Bauer is considered the top guy available. He comes with some baggage and benefited from pitching against a bunch of sub-.500 teams this year. But he’s a better fit than Realmuto and it would be a shock if the Mets weren’t seriously interested in getting him.
Prediction – Red Sox, 3/$105

George Springer
If the Mets can trade one of their current outfielders, it would make a ton of sense to get Springer. He would be an immediate upgrade defensively and the club wouldn’t experience any offensive drop. And he would help balance the lineup, being a RHB. Would the Mets sign him before executing a trade? Does being an East Coast guy give Springer an incentive to let the Mets wait?
Prediction – Cardinals, 5/$85

Marcus Semien
The Mets don’t need a SS and if they were to acquire one, they’d probably aim higher than 2020 Semien.
Prediction – Reds, 1/$18

Marcell Ozuna
Maybe at one point you could play him in center field but not any longer. And that likely kills any Mets interest.
Prediction – White Sox, 4/$96

DJ LeMahieu
A RHB who could potentially play 3B. He’s generally not listed among the likely free agent targets for the club yet he wouldn’t be a bad fit at all. Plus he comes with no doubts at all if he can play in New York.
Prediction – Yankees, 4/$90

Marcus Stroman
Mets should be in on any starting pitcher and while he might not be my first choice, my guess is that he takes the Qualifying Offer (QO.)
Prediction – Mets, 1/$18.9

Didi Gregorius
Mets probably won’t be interested. A Philly reunion makes sense on a short-term deal, perhaps the QO. If he declines that, or it isn’t offered, it could be a case of SS roulette. Which team becomes the SS Las Vegas, the last option available?
Prediction – A’s, 3/$40

Liam Hendriks
Mets need relievers but it’s extremely doubtful they’re shopping at the top end of the closer’s market.
Prediction – Rangers, 4/$50

Blake Treinen
Great in 2018, hurt in 2019, a bit of a bounceback in 2020 as a set-up guy. Got a ring with the Dodgers in 2020, seems like he would go for the biggest paycheck, rather than a chance to win. Feels like a closer on a .500 or worse team.
Prediction – Orioles, 3/$27

Alex Colome
Seems likely to work out a deal to remain in Chicago
Prediction – White Sox, 3/$40

Shane Greene
Does he want to go to where he’ll be a closer? Had a nice year in Atlanta as a set-up guy. He was better than Treinen in 2020 but never as good as Treinen was in 2018.
Prediction – Tigers, 2/$20

Masahiro Tanaka
Had his best ERA (3.56) since 2016 but his worst FIP (4.42) ever. There’s talk he might go back to Japan. If he stays in this country, how likely is he to leave the Yankees?
Prediction – Yankees, 3/$66

Taijuan Walker
Everyone wants the free agents in their 20s and Walker will be in his age 28 season in 2021. However, he’s made more than a dozen starts just three times in his career, the last time coming in 2017. Walker had a 2.70 ERA split between two clubs last year but a 4.56 FIP.
Prediction – Mets, 4/$72

Mike Minor
Great year in 2019 followed by a poor year in 2020. And unlike Walker, he turns 33 the day after Christmas. A one-year “prove it” deal or a multi-year deal at a relatively low AAV?
Prediction – Phillies, 3/$36

Robbie Ray
Drew CY Award support in 2017 but that season is an outlier in his career. Has great stuff but mediocre results. Could be a 15-game winner, could be a reliever. Just one year older than Walker.
Prediction – Giants, 3/$54

Jake Odorizzi
Another guy who was great in 2019 but not so hot last season. Might be a good candidate for a mutual option deal with a back-loaded structure.
Prediction – Nationals, 3/$40

Jose Quintana
He was really good for the White Sox but a cut beneath that in his tenure with the Cubs. And he’ll forever be known among the Wrigley faithful as the guy they traded Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease to get. Hard to see him going back to the Cubs.
Prediction – Cardinals, 3/$25

Andrelton Simmons
Has drawn MVP support three times in his career, which is pretty good here in the 21st Century for a guy with a lifetime .696 OPS. Is he still an elite defensive shortstop?
Prediction – Phillies, 2/$24

Nelson Cruz
Hit 16 HR last year, which was a pace for 43 in a 162-game season. Yeah, he’s 40 now. But all he does is rake. He hit at least 37 HR in six straight seasons before 2020. My expectation is he’ll repeat his contract from the last time he was a free agent.
Prediction – Twins, 1/$14/3

Joc Pederson
There’s a factory out there somewhere producing lefty-hitting outfielders that clubs try to use in CF. Glad to see other teams besides the Mets have this model. Hit 36 HR in 2019 but the less said about 2020, the better.
Prediction – Indians, 4/$60

James Paxton
Has never made 30 starts in a season but combined for 57 over the 2018-19 period. He’s really good when healthy; he’s just not healthy often enough. Will the Yankees let a potential 15-game winner leave? It may come down to which one they prefer more – Paxton or Tanaka.
Prediction – Blue Jays, 3/$36

Michael Brantley
Can the Astros afford to lose two starting outfielders this offseason?
Prediction – Astros, 2/$32

Justin Turner
Well, it’s hard to write about him objectively now. A proven RHB who’s not awful defensively at 3B. He’d be a good fit on the Mets. But it’s hard to want him after his Covid gaffe in the World Series.
Prediction – Dodgers, 2/$30

Tommy La Stella
Even with a dreadful season in 2018, La Stella has an .800 OPS over the past four years. Seems likely to be a guy squeezed by the uncertain finances but someone will probably get a nice short-term value signing with him.
Prediction – Red Sox, 2/$20

*****

It’s hard to make good free agent predictions in a normal year and this time around is anything but normal. These teams and dollar values are jumping off points for a discussion on the players. If two or three of these end up right on either team or dollars, I’ll be both surprised and happy.

24 comments on “MLB 2020-21 free agent prediction thread

  • Michael

    Sure hope you are correct on Realmuto. He turns 30 in March and I can’t see giving him a costly long term contract since he will probably DHing in the latter years. If things stay the same and the DH is kept for the NL we would have Smith, Alonso, Cano and Davis for that role.

  • Arbitol

    You’re really predicting a banner offseason for the Mets. So glad our new owner is richer than the next three richest combined.

  • Steve S.

    Now this is fun! Some good educated guesses, Brian.

    For the Mets signees, I’ll venture these guesses, with the feeling that Cohen goes big:
    Odorizzi 3 years/$50 million
    Springer 6 years/$150 million
    Realmuto 6 years/$165 million
    Stroman 1 year/$18.9 million
    Walker 3 years/$45 million

    Backloading of some contracts, looking to the day when Cano, Familia, and even deGrom are off the payroll.

    Trade Davis. OF of Nimmo, Springer, Conforto.
    Trade Rosario. INF of Smith, Cano, Gimenez, McNeil.
    Relievers acquired in deals.
    DH is mainly Alonso.
    Nontender Matz and Heredia.
    SP: deGrom, Odorizzi, Stroman, Walker, Peterson at the start of the season.

  • Thomas M Christensen

    I have been a Met fan since day one 1962 because I was a Dodger fan till they went west and just wanted a team to root for and the Mets came to be ! We have gone through many years looking for the right players that fit the mold and while it took a few years 1969 when Gil Hodges and Frank Cashen got the ball rolling and made the Mets a winner. Then again in 1986 the got another team together to win it all but things have gone down hill till we got Mike Piazza and had quite a few good years .This team needs about 4 good players now and the main priority is a catcher that can compare to Piazza and he is presently o a rival team in the division who will try like hell to keep him so if the Mets want Realmuto they’ll have to pay up or get another has been cheaper . They need a speedy center fielder that can also hit like Pederson again they’ll have to pay so they better dig deep for these two players who ever they may be ? They could use a real closer that can come in and get 3 or 4 outs without giving up a home run and they too aren’t cheap they have some trading pieces but if they can get what they need in the free agent market so be it but lets face it New York is a hot spot for sports and flowndering around the bottom for quite a few years because certain tight wads wouldn’t let loose the money but they sure made it from the fans .I still say I can’t believe NY has lots of money from fans that are dedicated and have waited too long for this team to come alive and win it all . The time is now to make things happen with a few new faces that can get the job done .I do feel they need a manager who will shake things up and get involved & make things happen in 2021 ! “Lets go Mets” I am 87 years old and have played minor league baseball and know how things can work out if you want a winner ! I have been a baseball fan and a player since I was 10 years old I played in the one Brooklyn Amateur baseball league when I was younger and in high school on L.I. and another league when I returned from the Korean war and played with at least 4 major league players of which one right now is a hall of famer from Boston ! I guess I’ve run along to much but it’s now time to get things rolling if this team wants to be a winner in 2021???

    Editor’s Note – Please do not capitalize words in your post, as that is a violation of our Comment Policy.

    • Steve S.

      Hey, Tom! Hi! I agree with many of your thoughts! Now’s the time!

      I, too, was a Brooklyn Dodger fan, who became a fan of the Mets. I just read The Duke of Flatbush(Duke Snider’s autobiography). A great read! It was wonderful to relive going to Ebbets Field with my family in the 1950s, and watching the great Dodger teams, with Jackie, Campy, the Duke, Gil, Pee Wee, Erskine, Newk, et al.

      Now I want another great Mets team, with the fantastic deGrom leading the charge, better defense up the middle, and the booming bats of Alonso, Smith, Conforto, and, hopefully, Springer! Let’s Go Mets!

  • Dan Capwell

    Agree on your choices for our team and I would throw James McCann and Kike Hernandez in on that pile as well. The rest of the acquisitions are going to come via the trade route: Rosario and Nimmo for as many major league arms as they can bring back.

  • MattyMets

    As I evaluate available FAs and trade candidates I almost ignore 2020, as long as they didnt suffer a serious injury. A lot of great players had bad seasons that are not indicative of what they’ll likely do in 2020. Not suggesting I want to keep Matz in the rotation though.

  • TJ

    In a very interesting move, the Indians placed Brad Hand on waivers, as they clearly do not intend on picking up his $10 million option for next year and are hoping to avoid the $1 million buyout. The Mets are near the top of the waiver order, given their last place finish. Claiming Hand and working a deal, which essentially would be nothing, makes total sense. The Mets most certainly would have taken his option for $10 million off last year. Adding his high quality left arm to the pen makes total sense, with only a 1 year commitment, and would set them up for the offseason without worrying about the pen and even leaving Lugo in the back end starter pool through spring training. It’s only money and a modest one year commitment, and word on the street is, well, you know…

    • Mike W

      I just saw that about Hand. Lers make move number one today.

    • Steve S.

      Hand and now O’Day! Relievers available!

    • Name

      “The Mets most certainly would have taken his option for $10 million off last year.”

      Nope! Not one team ended up claiming.

      Brian – you thinking about doing a re-do on this list giving what has transpired over the last 48 hours?

      • Brian Joura

        Since you’ve brought this up multiple times, I guess you missed the opening paragraph.
        From TFA:

        So, let’s use the list of the 25-best free agents from MLB.com and give thoughts to how they might fit on the Mets, what they might get in a “normal” year and what team might sign them. The latter two are primarily for fun, not anything on which to wager.

        And that point was repeated at the end of the column — It’s hard to make good free agent predictions in a normal year and this time around is anything but normal. These teams and dollar values are jumping off points for a discussion on the players

        This was never meant as a serious forecast for what free agents would get in this market. I feel bad that you misunderstood but I’m not sure what more I reasonably could have done.

  • Name

    The early returns do not bold well for these aggressive valuations.

    Reliever market looks like it’ll be absolutely flooded and if that’s the case it’ll be a great opportunity to bring in almost entirely new faces at bargain rates. No reason to tender contracts to Gsellman or Castro and we should view guys like Familia and Betances as backup plans in spring training only to make the team if there are injuries to other guys, and released if not.

  • Remember1969

    Great stuff Brian! I cannot disagree with most of your predictions, but I will offer you some alternative ones as well.
    (1) Realmuto. I like the 6yrs/$132M, but I think he’ll sign with the Cardinals as they move on from Molina.
    (2) Bauer. Got nothing here, and while he may command $35M, the team that signs him that will regret it. Three years only will take some of the sting off.
    (3) Springer. If 5yrs/$85M can sign this guy, the Mets made a major blunder. I have him at closer to $25 to 30M/yr than $17. I may be a tad high, but thinking something like a 6yr/$150M with a player opt out after 4.
    (4) Ozuna. Unlike Donaldson, I see Ozuna returning to Atlanta. 4/96 is fair, maybe even a touch high. I can’t see Chicago has a spot for him, although he would probably be an upgrade over Mazara.
    (5) Stroman. Spot on. I will be extremely surprised if they don’t offer him the Q.O. and likewise if he does not accept it. He would have made $14M in 2020 for a full season, didn’t throw a pitch, and $18.9 is top end.
    (6) Walker. I see this one as your overpay. He has a lot of promise when healthy, but hasn’t had enough track record to surpass Stroman’s payday. I have him on a shorter deal with significantly less money – 2 years and $22M was my initial guess. I could go up on the dollars a bit, perhaps even to $30M, but I don’t see any team going long term for him until he can put another couple years together. I am really hoping the Mets can shag him.
    Other. James McCann (not on the list), but my prediction: Mets 3yrs/$30M May be a touch of an overpay.

    Other. There are a couple of the relievers out there that may be interesting to ‘kick the tires on’. Treinen or Greene perhaps. You are right that Hendricks will get too expensive. Brad Hand could be the best option Cleveland buys him out (although he could approach that big money of Hendricks).

    Other. Two other free agents that I have thought about – Kevin Gausman for the rotation – I have seen some low estimates for him. I’ll say 2yrs/$15M. and I’m looking at Jurickson Profar for the bench as a multi-position switch hitter. Another 2/$15M might get that done, maybe a touch more. This will not be possible if any other team can promise him a starting job.

    Good stuff . .i’ll bookmark this article separately and refer back to it . . I would not be surprised to see you hit at least a couple of these. If not team, certainly the value, unless Covid really throws the market into total weirdness.

    • Bob P

      I would rather see money go into pitching and catcher rather than CF but I agree with you on Springer. If we can get him for 5/$85 I’m in.

  • TexasGusCC

    Realmuto: PHI 6/$140
    Bauer: NYY 4/$110
    Springer: NYM 5/$105
    Semien: OAK 1/$18.9 (QO)
    Ozuna: BOS 3/$54
    LeMahieu: NYY 3/$63
    Stroman: NYM 1/$18.9(QO) (No way he rolls the dice after not pitching a whole year)
    Gregorius: LAA 3/$39
    Hendriks: NYM 4/$44
    Treinen: HOU 3/$25
    Colome: SEA 3/$28
    Greene: LAA 3/$21
    Tanaka: NYY 3/$45
    Walker: PHI 4/$56
    Minor: CIN 2/$20
    Ray: NYM 3/$30
    Ordozzi: NYY 4/$60
    Quintana: WAS 3/$30
    Simmons: PHI 3/$27
    Cruz: CLE 2/$12
    Pederson: CLE 4/$44
    Paxton: CHW 3/$33
    Brantley: HOU 2/$20
    Turner: LAD 3/$45
    La Stella: SEA 3/$27
    Zunino: NYM 3/$28 (And it will be a steal)
    Hand: ATL 3/$25
    Kluber: NYM 2/$22

  • Brian Joura

    Robbie Ray to the Blue Jays – 1/$8

    • Remember1969

      Pretty insane. I can’t imagine the MLBPA is very happy with that one. A sign of things to come? Does this change Stroman’s Q.O. thinking a bit?

      • Name

        What exactly is insane about this?

        Guy had a 6.62 ERA last year and could not find the strike zone at all with a 7.8 bb/9. Yes he’s one year removed from a decent season but players aren’t typically rewarded after a horrendous year.

        Kevin Gausman is a pretty solid comp and this deal mirrors the one he got last year (1/$9). His 2019 was also dreadful, and he’s been touted as someone with good stuff but has been mostly average. Same age as well.

  • Brian Joura

    Marcus Stroman to the Mets – 1/$18.9

    • Metsense

      Now to sign Morton 1/$15m and Walker 3/$30m to round out the rotation. Complete the battery with Realmuto 6/$132m.
      It wouldn’t surprise me if Sandy signed Bauer 5/$150m after yesterday’s new conference.

  • Remember1969

    An interesting twist with Drew Smyly, not in the top 25, but signing an $11M one year deal with the Braves. Seems like a bit of an overpay? Is this an small early indicator that prices may not be as covid-depressed as one might think?

    • Brian Joura

      My opinion is that this signing will be either a ceiling or an outlier.

      If Smyly signed with any of the other 29 teams, this would seem like a wing and a prayer. The guy has only three seasons in his career where he’s made 20 starts and only one of those was actually good and it came in 2014. But because it’s the Braves, he’ll make a career high in starts and end up putting up a season that’s at least as good as 2014, when he had a 118 ERA+

      • Remember1969

        Exactly!

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