This year’s free agency class will be revolutionary for the future of baseball. Trevor Bauer is one of the best pitchers in baseball, and D.J. LeMahieu is one of the best hitters. If they join new teams it will be interesting to see how the formation of the league changes. However, the 2022 MLB free agency class might be even better than the current one. Although they don’t have the best catcher in the league, J.T. Realmuto, they have an endless number of superstars that could make the class go down as one of the most loaded ever. Teams will have to be careful with their spending this year because of the incoming players. The infield is the most loaded part of the 2022 MLB free agency class, but there is talent everywhere. Let’s meet the group.
The available backstops in 2022 are not the most stacked part of the class, but they are not no-names. Buster Posey, who just held out of his 2020 season, will have to prove himself in 2021 to get resigned. Posey is getting old, and the Giants have him on a club option. If the 6-time all-star can perform again, then he may get one last solid 2-year deal with San Francisco. Salvador Perez, Travis d’Arnaud, and Yan Gomes are three more veteran catchers who may be approaching their last few years in the league. The best available catcher in the group is Christian Vazquez of the Red Sox. Vazquez is also on a club option, and if he can keep up his steady production, he should be extended. 2020 Gold Glove winner Tucker Barnhart is also available, and his elite defense will be helpful to any team.
The shortstops are by far the most enticing part of the 2022 MLB free agency class. Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story, Carlos Correa, and Corey Seager are arguable the four best at the hot spot in baseball right now, and they are all entering their primes. Correa will be expiring from his rookie deal and should be able to gather a maximum contract. In fact, all four players may have earned a max deal. I think Correa has the best chance of getting near Mike Trout’s contract, but Seager could as well. Lindor may be getting traded very soon, so he might receive an extension instead of testing the open market. These four superstars, along with Fernando Tatis Jr, are probably the best offensive players in the position. If even one or two of these studs decide to switch teams, we are in for a revolutionary offseason.
The Rest of the Infield
Warning Cubs fans, the 2022 MLB free agency class might hurt. Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javy Baez all have contracts that expire after this upcoming season. Javier Baez is one of the most exciting players in baseball, and although his defense and baserunning far outshines his bat, his hitting is still dependable enough to make him a valuable singing as a utility infielder. Bryant had a down 2020, but the 2016 MVP has been very consistent prior to this season. Rizzo may be the best of the bunch though. He is a four-time gold glove winner and has been the 2nd most consistent first baseman in baseball.
However, the most consistent first baseman in the league has been Freddie Freeman, who also approaches free agency in 2022. The National League MVP is a future hall of famer and will benefit any team who wants him. The rest of the infielders that will be on the market are extremely viable options as well. If Nolan Arenado chooses to decline his player option, which is expected, he will be leaving Colorado. Arenado is probably the best defensive player in baseball. , and after gathering MVP votes in 5 of his eight seasons, he may be the best third baseman in the league. Jose Ramirez is also on a club option, but don’t expect the Indians to let him go after his extension. The second baseman supply is weak, but Starlin Castro provides a veteran presence after his tenth year in the league.
There are a plethora of reliable, starting-caliber outfielders that will be available to sign in 2022, but no superstars. Charlie Blackmon and J.D. Martinez are really the only ‘superstars’ on the market, and both are on player options. Martinez may stay, but I expect Blackmon to leave unless Colorado can compete in the tough NL West. Jorge Soler and Khris Davis are more designated hitter types, but they have both been on a decline in the past few seasons. Nick Castellanos has been great for the Reds, and if he opts out, he may leave.
The rest of the available outfielders are not the biggest names in the league, but they are consistent and reliable. Michael Conforto, Tommy Pham, Eddie Rosario, and Starling Marte will all be nearing their young thirties and are still improving. If Kyle Schwarber can continue to develop this upcoming season for Chicago, he may be a signing that’s worthwhile for many teams in need of a power bat.
The pitchers for the 2022 MLB free agency group feature the best pitcher in baseball, and a few future hall-of-famers. Noah Syndergaard’s contract with the Mets will be expiring, and he has the potential to be the biggest signing ever. If the Mets can begin to contend under new owner Steve Cohen, then Syndergaard leaving is not definite. While Syndergaard still has years of dominance ahead of him, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Zack Greinke also approach free agency with their primes coming to an end. The veterans will more than likely stay with their current teams, but it will be interesting to see if any teams want to milk the last few years that the Cooperstown-bound pitchers have left. While the starting pitching lineup is filled with huge names, the bullpen is not too shabby either. Kenley Jansen and Jeurys Familia will headline the accessible closers.
If all the possible players with expiring contracts don’t resign, 2022 could be historical. With the amount of young talent and big-name veterans, the 2022 MLB free agency class could be one of the best in history.
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