Four teams are on the cusp of a championship and are playing deep into October. For 26 other teams, however, the offseason preparations have already begun.
This year’s free-agent class is loaded, and there will be plenty of movement around the league. Let’s take a look at the top five free agents of a deep class this offseason.
5. SP Robbie Ray – 2021 Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Ray was an All-Star in 2017, posting a 2.89 ERA and a 15-5 record. He struggled over the next three seasons, including a 6.62 ERA with Arizona and Toronto.
The Blue Jays took a chance and brought Ray back on a one-year deal worth $8 million last November. The results couldn’t have worked out better.
Ray posted a 2.84 ERA in 32 starts and a career-best 248 strikeouts with just 52 walks. The Cy-Young front-runner just turned 30 and likely has a $100+ million deal in his future.
Where Will Ray Go?
With Trout returning from injury and Shohei Ohtani iffy about his future in L.A., the Angels could make a big splash to improve their rotation, something that seemingly has never happened since Trout arrived in the big leagues.
The Phillies are also a team that could make a run at Ray. They finished in the bottom half of the league in team ERA at 4.39, and another ace could push them back into the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
4. SS Trevor Story – 2021 Team: Colorado Rockies
Why Story wasn’t traded at the deadline remains a mystery. The Rockies will only get a draft pick from a qualifying offer instead of a decent haul of prospects. This is the same team that gave away Nolan Arenado to St. Louis. Who knows what they are thinking?
Story struggled early in 2021 but will still likely get a handsome deal this winter after a strong second half, posting an OPS of .843.
Seager and Correa will likely get larger deals, but Story is still in the market to top $100 million.
Where Will Story Go?
Texas makes a lot of sense for Story. He is from Irving and played high school baseball there, and the Rangers are looking to start over after selling at the trade deadline and finishing at 60-102.
3. 3B Kris Bryant – 2021 Teams: Chicago Cubs And San Francisco Giants
Bryant is one of the faces of the Cubs World Series team. He won Rookie of the Year in 2015 and MVP in 2016. He has topped 130 hits in five of his full six seasons (excluding 2020) and has a career OPS of .880.
While San Francisco didn’t get a ring out of the acquisition at the trade deadline, they gave him a preview of what the next several years would look like in the Bay Area.
Where Will Bryant Play In 2022?
Re-signing in San Francisco makes sense, but I think the Mets can lure Bryant over and add another stud to a star-packed infield.
We can’t write out the possibility of him returning to Chicago as well. He spent the first six and a half seasons of his career there and has hinted that he would not be opposed to returning.
2. SS Corey Seager – 2021 Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
He has missed some time with injuries, but Seager is one of the best shortstops in the game when healthy. He has posted an OPS over .900 each of the last two seasons, as well as averaging .307 and .306 and a career-best OBP of .349 in 2021.
His injury history may scare some teams away, but a massive contract in the seven-nine-year range isn’t out of the question for the 2016 Rookie of the Year.
Where Will Seager Play In 2022?
Don’t the Yankees make too much sense? They need lefties in a lineup stacked with right-handed power hitters, and the short porch is a left-hander’s dream. The Yankees have the money, the need and are the favorites to land Seager for the next decade.
1. SS Carlos Correa – 2021 Team: Houston Astros
Correa heads a star-studded shortstop class and will likely receive the biggest payday this winter. He is one of the best two-way players in the league and has been a staple of the deep Houston playoff runs in the last half-decade.
He may win *another ring* this season, and a strong performance the rest of the postseason will only help boost his value even further.
Where Will Correa Play In 2022?
This is the hardest of the five to pick, and to be honest; I don’t know where to pick. I have heard and seen predictions from San Francisco to Miami.
If I had to guess, Correa will likely take his money and become the face of a franchise that hopes to jump into a playoff race in the coming seasons. A reunion in Detroit with A.J. Hinch will make sense for both sides if the money is right.