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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

MLB free agency preview

Teams have the opportunity to improve their rosters with several star players available in free agency

 

By PATRICK FIGUEROA — sports@theaggie.org

 

With the end of the MLB postseason, the offseason begins. Now, baseball fans are focused on free agency — a period of time during which MLB teams can sign players without existing contracts. While some star pitchers like Clayton Kershaw, Edwin Díaz and Robert Suarez have already signed deals with their previous teams, there are still many players who will be looking to sign long-term contracts in the near future. 

There are multiple talented shortstops on the market, including former Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner, Minnesota Twins’ shortstop Carlos Correa, Boston Red Sox’s Xander Bogaerts and Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson. 

Turner has established himself as one of the best shortstops in baseball during the past two seasons. What stands out most about Turner is his speed, making him a threat whenever he gets on base. Fangraphs predicts that Turner will receive a seven-year, $210-million contract. The Philadelphia Phillies are currently the favorites to sign Turner. 

Correa opted out of his three-year contract with the Twins after one year to test the free agency market. He is a great all-around shortstop, but his defensive abilities, which contributed to his Platinum Glove Award win in 2021, are especially noteworthy. Fangraphs projects him to get an eight-year contract worth $256 million. There is no clear favorite to land Correa, but whichever team does acquire him will have an elite shortstop. 

Bogaerts has been a stalwart shortstop for the Red Sox for nearly a decade. Bogaerts won his fifth American League (AL) Silver Slugger Award last season. Projected to receive a six-year, $168-million contract, fans should expect a team looking for offensive production to sign Bogaerts. 

Swanson won a National League (NL) Gold Glove Award in 2022 after putting together the best season of his career. With great defensive abilities and above-average hitting, Swanson is reliable. He is projected to receive much less than the other top shortstops, at $141 million over six years. However, this could be an advantage for teams that desire a good shortstop without breaking the bank on a single player. 

There are also several pitchers that teams can acquire to bolster their starting pitching rotation. Former New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom, Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander and Japanese phenom Kodai Senga are all on the free-agent market. 

34-year-old deGrom is arguably the best available pitcher, despite his injury history. Teams are willing to sign deGrom to a record-breaking deal because of his incredible abilities when healthy. Projected to sign a three-year, $140-million contract, deGrom has recently expressed interest in signing with the Texas Rangers

After winning his third Cy Young Award and a World Series championship last season, Justin Verlander opted out of the second year of his two-year contract with the Astros, thus making him a free agent. Despite the fact that he will be 40 years old when the 2023 season starts, Verlander is projected to receive a two-year contract worth $70 million. Despite there not being a clear favorite to sign Verlander, the Dodgers have expressed interest. 

Kodai Senga is a Japanese pitcher who is on the international free-agent market this year. Senga has only pitched in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league, the highest level of baseball in Japan,  but he has a variety of pitches that should translate well in MLB, such as his splitter. Senga can choose whether he stays in the NPB or if he signs to play with a team in MLB for an estimated four-year contract worth $60 million. 

There are also some noteworthy outfielders in the free-agency market. This includes one of the best available free agents, former Yankees’ outfielder Aaron Judge, as well as former Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo. 

After a historic season in which Judge broke the AL home run record and won his first MVP award, he is now a free agent. Projected to receive an eight-year, $300 million contract, Judge will be a huge asset for any team that he signs with. The Yankees are the favorites to re-sign Judge, but it is not certain. Fans can expect Judge’s childhood team, the San Francisco Giants, and Dodgers to be in the race for Judge’s services as well. 

Nimmo is not the flashiest player in MLB, but he has a skill that many general managers desire: high on-base percentage (OBP). Nimmo has a stellar career OBP of .385. He is a jack-of-all-trades that is projected to receive a five-year, $100 million contract. After the Toronto Blue Jays traded away outfielder Teoscar Hernandez to the Seattle Mariners, they have expressed interest in Nimmo. 

Other free agents that baseball fans need to know about are former Giants’ pitcher Carlos Rodon, who opted out of his two-year contract with the Giants, becoming the best left-handed pitcher available, as well as former White Sox first baseman José Abreu and designated hitter J. D. Martinez, a former member of the Red Sox and an all-star last season. 

 

Written by: Patrick Figueroa — sports@theaggie.org