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#pounditSaturday, November 26, 2022

Top 5 MLB free agents for 2021

Mookie Betts

Uncertainly still surrounds the 2020 MLB season, but the business of baseball will inevitably march on no matter what. Numerous top players will be entering the final season of their contracts in 2020, and most of them should get significant contracts once the season ends as long as they perform to their capabilities.

Here are the top five free agents set to hit the market after the 2020 season.

5. Marcus Stroman, P, Mets

Stroman’s youth will work heavily in his favor as he heads to free agency. The pitcher will be 29 when he hits free agency, and he could get a lot of money if he has a strong year with the Mets. Stroman’s 3.76 career ERA is good, but could get even better in the NL at a favorable pitcher’s park. If that happens, Stroman will be in very high demand as a quality pitcher who is still fairly young and should have a lot of mileage left on his arm.

4. Marcus Semien, SS, Athletics

The 30-year-old shortstop cut his errors almost in half from 2018 to 2019 and became an even better hitter, resulting in a top three MVP finish last season. If Semien can repeat anything close to that, he’s in line for a lot of money at age 30. Semien hit 30 home runs last year with a .285 average. A dropoff would hurt him, but his improvement across the board is encouraging. Teams will be watching him closely in 2020.

3. Trevor Bauer, P, Reds

Bauer’s stock fell in 2019, as he posted an ERA over six after being traded to the Cincinnati Reds, but did so pitching while hurt. It’s worth remembering, however, that he had a 2.21 ERA with Cleveland the year before. The real Bauer might be between those two extremes, but at age 30, teams will be very intrigued by him with the stuff he’s flashed in the past. A good 2020 could lead to a huge contract for him if he wants it, though he’s indicated in the past his preference for one-year deals. Also working in his favor is his durability; he’s pitched at least 175 innings in each of the last five seasons.

2. J.T. Realmuto, C, Phillies

Arguably baseball’s best all-around catcher, Realmuto is going to be in huge demand if he hits the open market. He won’t turn 30 until next March, is fresh off a Gold Glove campaign, and posted an OPS over .800 for the second consecutive season. It’s rare to have a catcher that well-rounded, as it’s a position where defense is usually prioritized. Realmuto can do it all, and that could mean a $100 million deal is in his future.

1. Mookie Betts, OF, Dodgers

Betts’ 2019 was a down year compared to his 2018 MVP campaign, and he still hit .295 with 29 home runs. The new Dodger outfielder is a star on both offense and defense and is one of the game’s most dynamic players. He’s reportedly asked for a contract in the same neighborhood as the biggest in the game, and he just might get it. He’ll be a 28-year-old former MVP on the open market who is one of the game’s best five-tool players. If he hits the market, he’ll be the best free agent available, without question.


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