Written By: James Kirby
#10. Marcus Stroman (SP)
Stroman is a bit of a tricky player, since he didn’t pitch at all last season, opting out due to COVID concerns. In 2019 with the Mets and Blue Jays, Stroman had a nice comeback from his abysmal 2018. He sported a 3.22 ERA, and even made his first career All-Star game. Stroman definitely has elite pitching potential and throws an excellent sinker and slider. Due to the lack of starting pitching on the market, Stroman should garner lots of attention from teams in need of a quality arm on the mound.
#9. Michael Brantley (LF)
Like LeMahieu, Michael Brantley is one of the last pure hitters in the game and has proven to be a difference maker in any lineup. Brantley has hit over .300 seven times in his career, and while he doesn’t have outstanding power like many of the other hitters on this list, he still hit 22 home runs in 2019. However, home runs are not his game; his game is contact, and if you ever need a big hit with a runner in scoring position, he’s your guy. Brantley is definitely a valuable hitter on the market right now.
#8. Charlie Morton (SP)
Charlie Morton’s career has been revitalized, and he has suddenly become an All-Star pitcher in his veteran years. Morton was a tremendous factor in the Astros’s “championship” in 2017, and he nearly won the Cy Young in 2019. That year, Morton went 16-6 with a 3.05 ERA, and even led the Rays to the postseason. While Morton did not have a great 2020, he continued his dominant postseason track record, completely shutting down the Astros in game 7 of the ALCS. Morton has made it clear that he is a big game pitcher, and has consistently dominated the Yankees, A’s and Astros in critical games of the playoffs. Morton has one of the best curveballs in baseball and is definitely a great option for any team that needs starting pitching.
#7. Alex Colome (RP)
While there are many great relievers available in this free agency, Alex Colome stands out from the rest. His 4-seam fastball and nasty cutter has led to some outstanding seasons in his career. In 2019, Colome had 30 saves with the White Sox, and in 2017 he led the MLB in saves with 47. Last season, Colome even had an 0.81 ERA, and only gave up FIVE runs all season. Whichever team picks up Colome will be providing a massive boost to their bullpen.
#6. Marcell Ozuna (OF)
Ozuna is coming off the best season of his career, and if he shows any resemblance of last season, he could be an excellent pickup. Ozuna had a career best .338 batting average, which was a massive improvement over his .241 average in 2019. After his 29 homer season with the Cardinals, Ozuna led the NL in home runs with the Braves, and was on pace to hit 49. He also had many big hits in the postseason, and nearly led the Braves to the World Series. He even had an OPS of over 1.000! The one caveat with Ozuna is his poor fielding ability, but he’ll still get lots of attention for his mightily feared bat.
#5. Nelson Cruz (DH)
The ageless wonder himself. It might be the steroids he used earlier in his career, but who cares, Nelson Cruz absolutely rakes. Here are his home runs stats since 2014: 40, 44, 43, 39, 37, 41, AND he was on pace to hit 43 in 2020. Cruz may be 40 years old, but he’s shown no sign of slowing down. And no, he doesn’t just hit home runs; Cruz happened to hit over .300 the last 2 seasons, and even had an OPS of over 1.000 in 2019. While Cruz does not play a fielding position, every team should have his consistent bat on their radar.
#4. George Springer (CF)
While many thought the Astros would slow down without their cheating system, George Springer proved that he is an elite hitter, even when he doesn’t know what pitch is coming. If there was a full season in 2020, Springer would have been on pace for 38 home runs, which was four more than he had in 2017. Springer provides some of the best leadoff power baseball has ever seen, hitting 20+ homers for five seasons in a row, and even had 96 RBIs in 2019, which is absurd for a leadoff hitter. Springer is one of the greatest postseason hitters in history; his career stats include an .895 OPS, 19 home runs, and a World Series MVP. To make him even more appealing, Springer plays centerfield, which is where most teams are stuck with a weak hitter. Whichever team acquires Springer should be eying a championship in their near future.
#3. DJ LeMahieu (2B)
Few hitters in today’s game can hit the ball everywhere in the field and be immune to the shift, but DJ LeMahieu masters it like no other. Ever since entering the league, LeMahieu has been the complete epitome of a ballplayer. His gold glove defense can play all 4 infield positions, and he’s consistently been one of the best hitters in the game. In 2019, LeMahieu hit .327 with 26 home runs. He also was completely unstoppable with runners in scoring position, hitting .421 with RISP and two outs, and even had 100 RBIs as a leadoff hitter! His outstanding performance carried on in the playoffs, and believe or not, LeMahieu was even better in 2020. LeMahieu won the batting title hitting .364, and if there was a full season, he would be on pace to surpass his season high in home runs. While it is likely he wants to stay in New York, LeMahieu should be looking at an enormous contract this offseason.
#2. JT Realmuto (C)
Providing an excellent bat and glove to one of the most crucial positions in the game, Realmuto may break records with his contract this offseason. Elite catchers are extremely hard to come by, and Realmuto is debatably the best in baseball. After 4 impressive seasons in Miami, Realmuto joined the Phillies in 2019, and did not slow down from there. He batted .275 with 25 home runs, 83 RBIs, and made his second All Star team in a row. Realmuto has also led all catchers in extra base hits, was the second best in framed pitches, and was seventh best in caught stealing rate. He was even the fastest catcher in baseball according to speed from home to first. Realmuto is an above average hitter who can also fill the catcher spot in the order, which makes him a complete gamechanger.
#1. Trevor Bauer (SP)
With very scarce starting pitching available, and Bauer coming off a Cy Young caliber season, there is no doubt he will be the most sought-after free agent. Bauer had a breakout year in 2020, sporting an NL best 1.73 ERA, 2 complete game shutouts, and led the Reds to the postseason for the first time since 2013. While the Reds were knocked out early, Bauer dominated his one start and completely shut down the powerful Braves offense. Bauer has also garnered attention by fans and the media for his wild personality on and off the field. Every team looking for starting pitching should have their eye on this guy.
For more of James’s content, find his Instagram here! https://www.instagram.com/mlbnerd/