The MLB offseason is full of exciting and important decisions made in the free agency market. Each team tries to find a player that best fits their team, while players attempt to maximize contracts. Last year’s MLB free agency class was headlined by Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole. Similarly, this year’s number one free agent is Trevor Bauer, with position players George Springer and J.T. Realmuto also there. Each player has a high chance of resigning with their current team, but the “Hot Stove” always comes with surprises. Let’s look at where the league’s biggest players may sign, and how that would affect each team’s playoff chances.
Baseball’s most exciting pitcher is also the perhaps the most influential player on the MLB free agency market. I have already given an in depth look on Bauer’s possible suitors, but in the end, I think he is headed to Anaheim to join Mike Trout. The possible Cy Young winner has expressed his desire to join a contender, and the Angels biggest need is pitching. It seems like a match made in heaven, and although the Angels have made big deposits in Anthony Rendon and Mike Trout’s new contracts, they should be able to move a few pieces around to free up the money. Adding an ace like Bauer to the fourth worst pitching staff in baseball could see the Angels nab a wildcard spot.
The 2017 World Series MVP may be the most influential position player that can be added this offseason. His ability to perform in the postseason is almost unmatched, but Springer would be required to help the Red Sox in a huge playoff push if he chooses to sign to Boston. The Red Sox would be a perfect fit for Springer, as they would have the money for a big contract. The possible departure of Jackie Bradley Jr. could leave a hole in centerfield that needs filling from an elite bat. The pitching staff may be the most depleted part of the team; however, Springer could play an important role.
The other likely situation would be Springer resigning with the Astros. Springer may not get as big of a contract, but he would get to stay in Houston. The 3x all-star joins Carlos Correa and Zack Greinke as big names who could leave in the next few years. Correa is younger than Springer, so if the Astros had to choose one it would probably be the shortstop. If Houston has a plan to keep both, expect the 2-time silver slugger to stay. Unfortunately for Astros fans keeping both is unlikely, so Boston may soon be Springer’s new home.
The safest bet from MLB free agency would be the 2020 batting title winner. The rumors have been held to a minimum about the soft-spoken utility infielder, and that is a good thing. The Yankees understand how valuable LeMahieu is and don’t plan on losing their most consistent hitter. LeMahieu was a steal when the Bombers signed him two years ago, but that will not be the case anymore. DJ will be expensive, but nobody is better prepared to shell out money then New York. Although LeMahieu’s versatility would make him a good fit on any contender, resigning the 3x all-star is enough for the Yankees, who plan on being in the title race until the end of Gerrit Cole’s contract.
With the universal designated hitter expected to stick around, Ozuna will be in high demand this off season. Ozuna was one of the most elite batters in the national league this season, and keeping him will be the Braves’ first priority. Ozuna will be affordable for the Braves despite a bigger contract, and for a Braves team that could not push runs across the board in the NLCS this year, Ozuna will be a contributor that Atlanta doesn’t just want back but needs.
If Ozuna does choose to leave to go to another team, then expect the Braves to make a bigger push to acquire Trevor Bauer. Resigning Ozuna will be the main off-season goal, and the fit seems perfect. Ozuna is coming off a career year, and Atlanta is a contender that gives him a chance at a ring.
Lastly, the most influential position player on the market could be headed to New York. The Mets’ new owner Steve Cohen brings money that can be used to bring in Realmuto. A lack of catchers makes J.T. the perfect fit after the expected departure of Wilson Ramos and Robert Chirinos. Realmuto has expressed his desire to become the highest paid catcher in baseball, and the Mets can make that happen. With the Phillies looking to cut their cap, it is unlikely Bryce Harper will be getting the help he needs. The Mets desperately need to make a change under their new owner, and so splashing in free agency is expected. A weak bullpen was the core of New York’s problems but adding an elite catcher could not only improve offense, but also the confidence of the pitchers within the organization.
The 2020 season was one of the most exciting in recent years. The offseason could also be full of surprises that will totally shape 2021. Although players are trying to get as much money as possible, they are also trying to form winning teams. Predictions are hard to make, and everything that happens in free agency will influence next season. For my last predictions article, check it out here!