Eleven autumns ago, we at SI.com debuted the Reiter 50, which would become our annual ranking of the top 50 free agents available. That first list was topped by a certain hard-throwing 28-year-old—the same one who just last week walked off the mound, at 39 and in pain, after throwing what was certainly his final pitch for the club that signed him way back then.
The end of Carsten Charles Sabathia’s career was, first and foremost, a reminder of both the passage and ravages of time, as he was not just best but the last remaining active player from that first list. But it also spoke to the franchise-altering potential of the right free agent. Free agency, as an institution, has changed since 2008; owners are more tight-fisted now, and around a third of the league’s clubs each winter can be expected to barely participate at all, preferring to rebuild from within until they judge the time to be right. Still: for the cost of only (a lot of) money, teams might add a Sabathia, or a Scherzer, and never regret it.
This year’s postseason has affirmed the continuing value of elite starting pitchers, and this winter’s class is likely to include at least two of them. The class, in fact, is distinctly tiered: genuine superstars, from No. 1 to No. 3; plain-old All-Stars, from No. 4 to No. 12; really strong contributors, from No. 13 to No. 21; and needs-based pieces with potential, down to the bottom, although it gets a little thin around No. 40. Clubs looking for starters will find them, if they spend, and there are also generally a lot of solid-to-elite infielders—although not many shortstops. Relievers? Your options are limited.
A few notes: when my list initially came out during the World Series, I made educated guesses about which contractual options would or would not be picked up. I missed on a few: I thought J.D. Martinez, originally No. 6 on the list, would opt out of his Red Sox deal (he didn’t) and that the Yankees would opt into one more year of Edwin Encarnacion (they didn’t). I also didn’t anticipate that Aroldis Chapman–then No. 5 overall–would quickly reach an extension in New York. So the Top 10 is changed, as is the best fit for Nicholas Castellanos, who is no longer a logical target for Boston. Further, as usual, each player’s listed age reflects how old he will be during the 2020 season, and we’re using the Baseball Reference version of Wins Above Replacement.
On to the 12th annual Reiter 50:
50. Rich Hill, SP
Age: 40 | 2019 Stats: 4-1, 2.45 ERA, 1.125 WHIP, 11.0 K/9, 1.4 WAR
Current Team: Dodgers | Best Fit: Dodgers
What can you say about the man they call Dick Mountain? He’s the only 40-year-old on this list—the third-oldest player in the league after Fernando Rodney and Albert Pujols—but he’s still dominant when healthy, which he was for 58 2/3 innings this year. He remains a perfect fit for the deep Dodgers, either as a spot starter or reliever, and holds down the last spot on this list over other contenders including, in alphabetical order: Matt Adams, Brett Anderson, Corey Dickerson, Brian Dozier, Gio Gonzalez, Adam Jones, Jason Kipnis, Mitch Moreland, Rick Porcello, Justin Smoak, Julio Teheran, Joe Smith, Jason Vargas, and Ryan Zimmerman.
49. Drew Pomeranz, RP
Age: 31 | 2019 Stats: 2-10, 4.85 ERA, 1.433 WHIP, 11.9 K/9, 0.4 WAR
Current Team: Brewers | Best Fit: White Sox
Many starters are rejuvenated after being moved to the bullpen, but few to the extreme level of Pomeranz in 2019. He was miserable (5.68 ERA) as a Giants starter and then, as a Brewers reliever, sensational: a 2.39 ERA over 25 appearances with an astonishing strikeout rate of 15.4 per nine. The White Sox will likely be in the market for many of the bigger pitching names, but if they fall short, an investment in the continuation of Pomeranz's second half would be wise.
48. Jarrod Dyson, OF
Age: 35 | 2019 Stats: .230 BA, .633 OPS, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 30 SB, 1.3 WAR
Current Team: Diamondbacks | Best Fit: Cubs
Dyson remains what he’s always been since his Royals days, a speed-and-D guy; he finished third in the NL in stolen bases, despite receiving just 452 plate appearances. He’d represent an excellent bench option for the Cubs, who stole an NL-low 45 bags this year and got below-average defense in both center and left.
47. Alex Gordon, OF
Age: 36 | 2019 Stats: .266 BA, .741 OPS, 13 HR, 76 RBI, 5 SB, 1.2 WAR
Current Team: Royals | Best Fit: Giants
The Royals are certain to exercise the $4 million buyout of their longtime centerpiece’s $23 million option for 2020, putting him on the open market for the first time since they drafted him second overall in 2005. Gordon quite easily had his best OPS since his last All-Star season, 2015, and he remains a strong outfielder, if no longer a Gold Glover. Giants leftfielders combined to bat .218 this season, with a .672 OPS. They need help.
46. Homer Bailey, SP
Age: 34 | 2019 Stats: 13-9, 4.57 ERA, 1.316 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, 1.9 WAR
Current Team: A's | Best Fit: A's
What did the Reds get for the six-year, $105 million extension they gave Bailey in 2014? Just 18 wins and a 5.27 ERA over the contract’s first five seasons—about $21 million in value, total, according to FanGraphs—before they pulled the plug. But he was exactly league-average during his 13 second-half starts with Oakland (6-3, 4.30 ERA), and the A’s still need presumably cheap innings.
45. Adam Wainwright, SP
Age: 38 | 2019 Stats: 14-10, 4.19 ERA, 1.427 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 2.1 WAR
Current Team: Cardinals | Best Fit: Cardinals
Certainly no longer the annual Cy Young candidate of a decade ago, since 2014 and led the Cardinals’ NLCS run, allowing just three runs in 16 2/3 playoff innings. A 16th year in St. Louis is an absolute certainty.
44. Brandon Kintzler, RP
Age: 35 | 2019 Stats: 3-3, 2.68 ERA, 1.018 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 1 SV, 1.7 WAR
Current Team: Cubs | Best Fit: Cubs
The strikeout rate doesn’t scream “quality reliever,” but Kintzler is difficult to square up. He allowed only 47 hits in 57 innings, just five of them homers. The Cubs, of recent vintage, have been in perennial need of bullpen help, and they ought to be motivated to bring back one of their best pieces.
43. Sergio Romo, RP
Age: 37 | 2019 Stats: 2-1, 3.43 ERA, 1.110 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 20 SV, 0.6 WAR
Current Team: Twins | Best Fit: Marlins
Another effective season for the longtime-Giant-turned-journeyman, who actually is 17th in saves over the past two seasons (45) even though he spent the second half of last year in a setup role for the Twins. The Marlins signed him last winter to a one-year, $2.5 million deal before flipping him to Minnesota, and they could try it again.
42. Hunter Pence, OF/DH
Age: 37 | 2019 Stats: .297 BA, .910 OPS, 18 HR, 59 RBI, 6 SB, 1.7 WAR
Current Team: Rangers | Best Fit: Rays
It was an incredible bounce-back season for Pence, an All-Star for the first time in five years. Although injuries to his groin and back limited him to 83 games, a change in approach led to his best average exit velocity (91.4 mph) and launch angle (10.1 degrees) of the five-year StatCast era. The Rays checked in on him at the trade deadline, and could bring him aboard to address their continuing needs at DH.
41. Kyle Gibson, SP
Age: 32 | 2019 Stats: 13-7, 4.84 ERA, 1.444 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 0.4 WAR
Current Team: Twins | Best Fit: Royals
Gibson struggled with ulcerative colitis this year—a chronic digestive condition that can be debilitating—but still managed to work 160 innings. If his illness abates, he might represent a strong buy-low candidate, especially as he pitched to a 3.62 ERA in 2018. The Royals could use one of those, particularly in their rotation.
40. Jose Iglesias, SS
Age: 30 | 2019 Stats: .288 BA, .724 OPS, 11 HR, 59 RBI, 6 SB, 1.5 WAR
Current Team: Reds | Best Fit: Twins
He hit better than ever before, reaching double-digits in homers for the first time, but his value rests with his still-elite fielding. Advanced metrics suggest that the Twins received the majors’ worst fielding at shortstop, and they could slide the offensively excellent Jorge Polanco over to second and use Iglesias as a short-term stopgap until top-10 prospect Royce Lewis, 20, is ready.
39. Wade Miley, SP
Age: 33 | 2019 Stats: 14-6, 3.98 ERA, 1.345 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 2.0 WAR
Current Team: Astros | Best Fit: Twins
Miley looked like the steal of last winter through the end of August, at which point—on a one-year, $4.5 million contract—he was 13-4 with a 3.06 ERA. Then he yielded 21 earned runs in just 11 1/3 September innings, and fell out of the Astros’ postseason plans. If the Twins fail to land the ace they seek, he could prove a smart Plan B.
38. Kole Calhoun, OF
Age: 32 | 2019 Stats: .232 BA, .792 OPS, 33 HR, 74 RBI, 4 SB, 2.3 WAR
Current Team: Angels | Best Fit: Indians
The eight-year Angels stalwart set a career-high in home runs this year, but Anaheim is unlikely to exercise his $14 million option, not with Mike Trout and Justin Upton entrenched in the outfield, Jo Adell (MLB Pipeline’s No. 5 overall prospect) nearing his debut, and other spots of concern. The Indians, meanwhile, desperately need outfield power, and Calhoun likely won’t cost a lot—a key for them.
37. Steve Cishek, RP
Age: 34 | 2019 Stats: 4-6, 2.95 ERA, 1.203 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 7 SV, 1.8 WAR
Current Team: Cubs | Best Fit: Rockies
The side-winding veteran of five teams provides rare consistency in the bullpen: his excellent ERA this season was actually his highest since 2015. In fact, only Kenley Jansen and Clayton Kershaw have pitched more than Cishek’s 243 innings over the past four years to a better ERA than his 2.52. The Rockies have spent a ton on their bullpen over the past several years, and yet they still had an NL-worst 5.14 ERA this year. They need his rare consistency.
36. Todd Frazier, 3B
Age: 34 | 2019 Stats: .251 BA, .772 OPS, 21 HR, 67 RBI, 1 SB, 2.2 WAR
Current Team: Mets | Best Fit: Nationals
Frazier slugged 40 home runs for the White Sox in 2016, but just 39 over his two seasons as a Met. He retains value, though, and the Nationals might be faced with a gaping hole at third base.
35. Cameron Maybin, OF
Age: 33 | 2019 Stats: .285 BA, .858 OPS, 11 HR, 32 RBI, 9 SB, 1.5 WAR
Current Team: Yankees | Best Fit: Mets
Maybin was both a revelation and a savior for the banged-up Yankees this year—actually his third organization of the season, as he’d been cut by both the Giants and Indians by the end of April—posting impressive numbers in just 82 games played. The Mets got precious little from their centerfielders—primarily Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo—and an inter-boro acquisition could be affordable and fruitful.
34. Eric Sogard, 2B
Age: 34 | 2019 Stats: .290 BA, .810 OPS, 13 HR, 40 RBI, 8 SB, 2.6 WAR
Current Team: Rays | Best Fit: Red Sox
The bespectacled longtime glue guy for the A’s and Brewers broke out for the Blue Jays and Rays this year, displaying surprising pop to go with his trademark versatility (he played six defensive positions). For the Red Sox—who can’t wait for Dustin Pedroia anymore, and whose pursestrings have tightened—he’d be an everyday second baseman.
33. Robinson Chirinos, C
Age: 36 | 2019 Stats: .238 BA, .790 OPS, 17 HR, 58 RBI, 1 SB, 3.8 WAR
Current Team: Astros | Best Fit: Astros
Yet another bargain signing by the Astros, he far outproduced his one-year, $5.75 million contract, in part by fairly significantly improving his defense behind the plate. He’d be higher—above Travis d’Arnaud—were he not getting up there in years. But he quickly became Justin Verlander’s personal catcher—‘”It’s been a pretty special year for him and I,” Verlander said after his no-hitter on Sept. 1—which is another reason the Astros will want him back.
32. Arodys Vizcaino, RP
Age: 29 | 2019 Stats: 1-0, 2.25 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 13.5 K/9, 1 SV, 0.1 WAR
Current Team: Mariners | Best Fit: Dodgers
An early torn labrum meant that the former Brave pitched only 3 1/3 more innings in 2019 than Dellin Betances—Vizcaino worked four—but he represents a similar proposition. That’s a formerly dominant late inning force (a 2.54 ERA over 95.2 innings in `17 and `18, with 104 strikeouts and 30 saves) whose price could be suppressed by his recent health woes. The Dodgers need someone like that, with Kenley Jansen not what he once was, and they have the wherewithal to sustain the risk.
31. Tanner Roark, SP
Age: 33 | 2019 Stats: 10-10, 4.35 ERA, 1.397 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 2.0 WAR
Current Team: A's | Best Fit: Blue Jays
You more or less know what you’ll get with Roark. He’s durable—30+ starts in each of the past four seasons—and almost exactly league average, with a 99 ERA+ over the past three. A solid No. 3 or 4, for most teams, although on the Blue Jays—who have a rising young offense but a terribly thin rotation, now that Marcus Stroman’s gone—he could be the No. 1, in name anyway.
30. Travis d'Arnaud, C
Age: 31 | 2019 Stats: .251 BA, .745 OPS, 16 HR, 69 RBI, 0 SB, 1.0 WAR
Current Team: Rays | Best Fit: Pirates
On May 10, d’Arnaud was batting .089 and jobless, having been released by the Mets and sold by the Dodgers to the Rays. He ended the season as the deserving nightly starter for a playoff team, and as one of the top three catchers available on the market. The Rays will want to keep his turnaround going, but there will be competition—including from the Pirates, who have precious little behind the plate after Francisco Cervelli’s release.
29. Asdrubal Cabrera, 3B
Age: 34 | 2019 Stats: .260 BA, .783 OPS, 18 HR, 91 RBI, 4 SB, 1.7 WAR
Current Team: Nationals | Best Fit: Brewers
The switch-hitter was released by the Rangers in August, then was flat-out fantastic as the Nationals surged to the World Series, batting .323 with six homers, 40 RBI and a .969 OPS in 38 games. He’d be a cost-effective third base option for the Brewers if Mike Moustakas moves on.
28. Howie Kendrick, UTIL
Age: 36 | 2019 Stats: .344 BA, .966 OPS, 17 HR, 62 RBI, 2 SB, 2.6 WAR
Current Team: Nationals | Best Fit: Nationals
He’s already a Nationals legend, thanks to his 10th-inning grand slam in Game 5 of the NLDS, but perhaps that moment shouldn’t have been such a surprise. Look at those numbers! The Nats might suffer some significant losses from their World Series run, but expect them to bring back Kendrick.
27. Daniel Hudson, RP
Age: 32 | 2019 Stats: 9-3, 2.47 ERA, 1.137 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 2.0 WAR
Current Team: Nationals | Best Fit: A's
The veteran of six teams and two Tommy John surgeries was precisely the stabilizing late-innings force the Nationals hoped for when they acquired him from Toronto, pitching to a 1.44 ERA in 25 regular season innings for them and then allowing no runs (and just seven baserunners) over his first six playoff outings. Pretty much every team ought to be interested in him, so this is a bit of a dart-throw, but the A’s, who can never compete for sought after free agent starters, might be able to afford him.
26. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Age: 37 | 2019 Stats: .244 BA, .875 OPS, 34 HR, 86 RBI, 0 SB, 2.4 WAR
Current Team: Yankees | Best Fit: Rays
I initially believed the Yankees would exercise Encarnacion's $20 million option, rather than paying him a $5 million buyout. That they chose the latter speaks to a few things: low demand for slugging 1B/DH types–even those who remain premium ones–and New York's desire to save for even bigger fish. The slim market could mean that the Rays, who in recent years have unsuccessfully pursued Nelson Cruz among other similar players, might finally land their relatively cheap, aging masher.
25. Michael Pineda, SP
Age: 30 | 2019 Stats: 11-5, 4.01 ERA, 1.158 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 2.4 WAR
Current Team: Twins | Best Fit: Astros
The crimson red flag with Pineda: he was in early September banned 60 games for testing positive for a prohibited diuretic, one which is often used as a masking agent. It was a big blow to the Twins, as Pineda had returned from Tommy John surgery as a quality No. 3, and it will mean that whatever team signs him will be taking on not only his injury history but the fact he’ll be ineligible to play for the first month of the season or so. His peripherals were excellent, though—including an elite 5.0 strikeout-to-walk rate—and the Astros could add him to help mitigate the likely loss of Gerrit Cole.
24. Starlin Castro, 2B
Age: 30 | 2019 Stats: .270 BA, .736 OPS, 22 HR, 86 RBI, 2 SB, 0.8 WAR
Current Team: Marlins | Best Fit: Angels
Castro had a miserable first half—he batted .245 with six homers and a .608 OPS—but the former Cub and Yankee turned it on after the break, when absolutely no one was paying attention to the Marlins. Then he hit .302 with 16 homers and 52 RBI; his .892 second half OPS ranked eighth among regular second basemen. He could prove a sneaky signing for Anaheim, who need infield help.
23. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
Age: 28 | 2019 Stats: .256 BA, .777 OPS, 23 HR, 59 RBI, 1 SB, 1.6 WAR
Current Team: Twins | Best Fit: Indians
Schoop hasn’t come close to matching his breakout year in 2017, when he had 32 homers, 105 RBI, and an .841 OPS, and finished 12th in the AL MVP voting. But he still provides significant power at second base, and is young enough to recapture `17’s magic. The power-needy Indians are declining fixture Jason Kipnis’s $16.5 million option, and Schoop won’t command nearly as much.
22. Will Harris, RP
Age: 35 | 2019 Stats: 4-1, 1.50 ERA, 0.933 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 4 SV, 2.1 WAR
Current Team: Astros | Best Fit: Astros
Harris is the type of player every team would love to have, a reliever who delivers results year after year (sub-3.00 ERAs in four of the last five) and one who is effective against both righties (.183 BAA) and lefties (.207). Of course, the years are accumulating now, but even at 35 he figures to be one of the Astros’ free agents whom they will try to keep.
21. Avisail Garcia, OF
Age: 29 | 2019 Stats: .282 BA, .796 OPS, 20 HR, 72 RBI, 10 SB, 2.0 WAR
Current Team: Rays | Best Fit: Diamondbacks
The Rays signed him to a one-year, $3.5 million deal. He delivered a season worth about four times that, according to FanGraphs’ metrics. Even in a year in which they traded their two best players, Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke, the Diamondbacks went 85-77 and finished four games out of a wild-card spot. While they’re unlikely to spend big, a few smart signings like Garcia could push them over the edge.
20. Dellin Betances, RP
Age: 32 | 2019 Stats: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.000 WHIP, 27.0 K/9, 0 SV, 0.0 WAR
Current Team: Yankees | Best Fit: Phillies
The strikeout rate: incredible! Unfortunately, it only came in 2/3 of an inning of work, as after finally returning from shoulder trouble in mid-September he partially tore his left achilles while jumping to celebrate his two whiffs. Before his lost 2019, Betances posted a 2.22 combined ERA between 2014-18, with an astonishing (and more sustained) strikeout rate of 14.6 per nine. The Phillies didn’t have much luck with the last Yankees reliever they signed, David Robertson, but they need bullpen help, bad.
19. Jose Abreu, 1B
Age: 33 | 2019 Stats: .284 BA, .834 OPS, 33 HR, 123 RBI, 2 SB, 2.4 WAR
Current Team: White Sox | Best Fit: White Sox
In another era, the reigning AL RBI king would appear much higher on this list. But teams will likely focus on his flaws, like his lack of speed and poor defense at first base, at least equally to the fact that only nine players have hit more home runs than he has since he arrived from Cuba in 2014, and only three have more RBI. The White Sox, in other words, probably appreciate him more than anyone else.
18. Brett Gardner, OF
Age: 36 | 2019 Stats: .251 BA, .829 OPS, 28 HR, 74 RBI, 10 SB, 4.0 WAR
Current Team: Yankees | Best Fit: Yankees
The Constant … well, you know … in the Yankees’ injury-ravaged outfield, he delivered career highs in homers and OPS, and still has wheels despite his advancing age. The last link to the `09 champs, now that CC Sabathia has retired, it’s difficult to imagine him playing anywhere else.
17. Yasiel Puig, OF
Age: 29 | 2019 Stats: .267 BA, .785 OPS, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 19 SB, 1.3 WAR
Current Team: Indians | Best Fit: Padres
As maddening and inconsistent as he is, Puig turned in a strong season split between the Reds and Indians, setting career highs in RBI and steals. He’s a fairly rare commodity on the market in that his physical gifts suggest untapped potential. The Padres don’t figure to spend like they did last winter, but the declining play of Wil Myers in particular means they’re likely at least an outfielder short of being the contenders they ought to be in 2020.
16. Cole Hamels, SP
Age: 36 | 2019 Stats: 7-7, 3.81 ERA, 1.391 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, 3.0 WAR
Current Team: Cubs | Best Fit: Phillies
The southpaw keeps chugging along. He’s now seventh among active pitchers in wins and fifth in strikeouts, and although a strained oblique cost him about six starts this summer, he’s suffered little deterioration as far as the velocity of his fastball (around 92 mph) or the effectiveness of his changeup. Perhaps a return to Philadelphia—for whom he was the MVP of the 2008 World Series—would be overly poetic, but the Phillies do need pitchers of all types.
15. Mike Moustakas, 3B
Age: 31 | 2019 Stats: .254 BA, .845 OPS, 35 HR, 87 RBI, 3 SB, 3.2 WAR
Current Team: Brewers | Best Fit: Mets
Moustakas has become an annual fixture on this list: No. 22 in `18, No. 7 in `17. He had to settle for cheap deals both years ($6.5 million from the Royals, then $7 million from the Brewers), and it’s a head-scratcher for a guy who has averaged 34 homers and 89 RBI since `17 and plays a good third base. Maybe this is the winter he hits a (relative) jackpot—perhaps with the Mets, if they miss out on Josh Donaldson.
14. Will Smith, RP
Age: 30 | 2019 Stats: 6-0, 2.76 ERA, 1.026 WHIP, 13.2 K/9, 2.2 WAR
Current Team: Giants | Best Fit: Nationals
The clear-cut second-best reliever in a thin class of them, the southpaw strikeout machine was a first-time All-Star this year and converted all but four of his save opportunities. He should be a top priority for the Nationals, World Series participants despite a majors-worst 5.66 bullpen ERA during the regular season.
13. Dallas Keuchel, SP
Age: 32 | 2019 Stats: 8-8. 3.75 ERA, 1.367 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 2.0 WAR
Current Team: Braves | Best Fit: Giants
Here we go again. Keuchel was No. 7 on this list last year but didn’t get signed by anyone until the Braves ponied up $13 million for the rest of the season in early June. The former Cy Young winner’s half-season looked familiar—he had a 3.74 ERA in his final campaign with the Astros—and so might his market, although he will no longer be hampered by having a qualifying offer attached to him. Clubs don’t like his strikeout rate, although the Giants, with their solid defense and big ballpark—and possibly without Madison Bumgarner—could be tempted.
12. Jake Odorizzi, SP
Age: 30 | 2019 Stats: 15-7, 3.51 ERA, 1.208 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, 3.6 WAR
Current Team: Twins | Best Fit: Brewers
It’s a little hard to trust Odorizzi’s excellent numbers, as his ERA dropped by nearly a run and he struck out more than a batter an inning for the first time since he was a rookie in 2014. Is a significant jump in fastball velocity, from 91 to 93, sustainable? He says it is, since it comes from an overhauled delivery. A small market team like the Brewers might be able to exploit the uncertainty around Odorizzi and bring him aboard.
11. Didi Gregorius, SS
Age: 30 | 2019 Stats: .238 BA, .718 OPS, 16 HR, 61 RBI, 2 SB, 0.6 WAR
Current Team: Yankees | Best Fit: Giants
Gregorius didn’t play particularly well after his mid-season return from Tommy John surgery; his OPS plummeted by more than 100 points. But he’s a good bet to return to power-hitting form after a regular off-season, although not to the Yankees, who seem set to turn the position over to Gleyber Torres. The good news, for Gregorius’s immediate prospects, is that this class of free agent shortstops is dreadfully weak. A move to San Francisco is logical, especially as the soon-to-be 33-year-old Brandon Crawford isn’t producing like an everyday player should anymore.
10. Marcell Ozuna, OF
Age: 29 | 2019 Stats: .241 BA, .800 OPS, 29 HR, 89 RBI, 12 SB, 2.2 WAR
Current Team: Cardinals | Best Fit: Reds
His second season in St. Louis was marginally better than his first, but a two-year OPS+ of 107 was disappointing after he put up a 149 with the Marlins in 2017—and, as we saw in the playoffs, he is not a good outfielder. Even so, the Reds’ 25th-ranked offense was a significant disappointment. They’re trying to win now and he’d undoubtedly benefit from a move from one of the worst ballparks in which to hit (Busch Stadium) to one of the best (Great American Ball Park.)
9. Nick Castellanos, OF
Age: 28 | 2019 Stats: .289 BA, .863 OPS, 27 HR, 73 RBI, 2 SB, 2.7 WAR
Current Team: Cubs | Best Fit: White Sox
He was simply fantastic at the dish after his deadline trade from the Tigers to the Cubs, slugging 16 homers in just 51 games to go with a 1.002 OPS. His fielding was still poor, always the knock against him. I originally theorized he might end up in Boston, as the somewhat similar J.D. Martinez seemed a strong fit for Chicago if Martinez declined his option. With Martinez staying with the Red Sox, it's now logical that Castellanos's socks will go pale.
8. Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP
Age: 33 | 2019 Stats: 14-5, 2.32 ERA, 1.007 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 5.3 WAR
Current Team: Dodgers | Best Fit: Cubs
Look, he will probably go back to the Dodgers after a season in which he accepted their $17.9 million qualifying offer and will end having received quite a few Cy Young votes. But the fact is that there are not enough truly top-tier starters to go around to all the rich clubs who will want one. Ryu is older than the guys ahead of him and strikes out fewer batters, plus he has an extensive injury history—so maybe the Cubs will make him an offer?
7. Josh Donaldson, 3B
Age: 34 | 2019 Stats: .259 BA, .900 OPS, 37 HR, 94 RBI, 4 SB, 6.1 WAR
Current Team: Braves | Best Fit: Phillies
Donaldson made the Braves' one-year, $23 million expenditure on him last winter worthwhile, as the former AL MVP had his best year since `16. A long deal is probably not in the cards at his age, but a high AAV one is—making the Phillies, who may be done dishing out long deals for now but need increased production from third base (.725 combined OPS in `19), a good fit.
6. Yasmani Grandal, C
Age: 31 | 2019 Stats: .246 BA, .848 OPS, 28 HR, 77 RBI, 5 SB, 2.5 WAR
Current Team: Brewers | Best Fit: Braves
Grandal rejected a four-year, $60 million offer from the Mets last winter, choosing a one-year, $18.25 million deal from the Brewers along with the chance to roll the dice again. It could pay off, as he was once again one of the league’s top two catchers (along with the Phillies’ J.T. Realmuto), an on-base machine with power and an expert pitch framer. He’d fill the retired Brian McCann’s shinguards in Atlanta, and then some.
5. Madison Bumgarner, SP
Age: 30 | 2019 Stats: 9-9, 3.90 ERA, 1.127 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 2.8 WAR
Current Team: Giants | Best Fit: Braves
It remains somewhat perplexing that Bumgarner finished the season as a member of the going-nowhere Giants, while it’s somehow also hard to fathom he’ll play elsewhere. His relative youth is complicated by the fact that he’s thrown more innings (1,846) than all but 15 other active players, but he just turned in a fully healthy season and his postseason bona fides are unmatched. He’s exactly the guy the Braves, with a really young and not particularly deep rotation, need.
4. Zack Wheeler, SP
Age: 30 | 2019 Stats: 11-8, 3.96 ERA, 1.259 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 4.1 WAR
Current Team: Mets | Best Fit: Dodgers
Clubs don’t really pay for players’ past accomplishments any more; they spend on their futures. And while Wheeler’s results might be better than you think, he’s this high on the list largely because of his fundamentals, especially an average fastball velocity (97.1) that trailed that of only Noah Syndergaard, Gerrit Cole and Jacob deGrom. His heater is just one part of a quality four-pitch mix that also includes a slider, curveball and changeup. The Dodgers are the type of analytical organization that knows how to get more out of him than the Mets ever did.
3. Stephen Strasburg, SP
Age: 31 | 2019 Stats: 18-6, 3.32 ERA, 1.038 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, 6.5 WAR
Current Team: Nationals | Best Fit: Angels
Status: Opted out of remaining deal with the Nationals. Currently a free agent.
Strasburg can opt out of the remaining four years and $100 million on his Nationals contract—and after another superb season, followed by a crazy run to the World Series in which he struck out 33 hitters over his first four postseason starts while walking one, he likely will. He might then renegotiate a better contract with the Nationals, as Clayton Kershaw did with the Dodgers last year. Or he might truly test the market. I don’t actually think that a players’ birthplace plays that much of a role in his free agency decisions—maybe a tiebreaker, sometimes—but I do think that the Angels will be motivated to spend a lot on the Southern Californian, if they miss out on Gerrit Cole.
2. Anthony Rendon, 3B
Age: 30 | 2019 Stats: .319 BA, 1.010 OPS, 34 HR, 126 RBI, 5 SB, 6.3 WAR
Current Team: Nationals | Best Fit: Rangers
He’d have been an NL MVP candidate in many seasons—just not one that featured even more astounding performances by Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich. But Rendon simply does everything really, really well—including playing third base—and the injuries to his ankle and shoulder that caused him to fall to sixth overall in the 2011 draft haven’t hampered him as a big leaguer (he’s averaged 146 games played over the past four years). He’s a native Texan and played college ball at Rice, but those would be only small factors in the mammoth offer the Rangers might make him to serve as the club’s big acquisition ahead of opening its new ballpark.
1. Gerrit Cole, SP
Age: 29 | 2019 Stats: 20-5. 2.50 ERA, 0.895 WHIP, 13.8 K/9, 6.8 WAR
Current Team: Astros | Best Fit: Yankees
Cole is a lock to break David Price’s record $217 million contract for a pitcher. His sensational two seasons with the Astros certainly added well more than $100 million to his haul—and will probably price Houston out of the competition for him. How much will he command? Well, every big-spending club in the game will likely bid for him, including the Angels, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Phillies and White Sox. He’s believed to want to return to his native California, but it’s possible the Yankees will make an offer that is too absurd for him to pass up—as they did to another native Californian a dozen years ago, CC Sabathia.