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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Mets need relievers but it’s extremely doubtful they’re shopping at the top end of the closer’s market.
Prediction – Rangers, 4/$50
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
Seems likely to work out a deal to remain in Chicago
Prediction – White Sox, 3/$40
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Can the Astros afford to lose two starting outfielders this offseason?
Prediction – Astros, 2/$32
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.