The Houston Astros were the best team in the American League all season and at the end of the 2022 MLB season, they were crowned the best team in all of baseball. In six games, the Astros were able to win at home against the Philadelphia Phillies in a pretty entertaining series.
And while the Astros did win the 2017 World Series, that was obviously shrouded in cheating accusations…rightly so. I have no problem with people still being angry at that, but the fact remains the Astors have been good well beyond that. At some point, we just have to agree they’re a great team that didn’t need to cheat in the first place. It was one of the most unbelievable cheating stories in sports in the last decade and people are going to hold that against them for a long time. A lot of those players have moved on, and some remain, but the team has continued to be a juggernaut in the AL.
But now that the postseason is over, all 30 teams have the offseason to look forward to. I expect tons of movement over the next several weeks with the GM meetings happening last week. Free agency is officially open and there are several big fish out there looking to cash in.
On the pitching market, there are tons of top-of-the-line starters available. Justin Verlander and Jacob DeGrom are probably the two biggest names and despite their ages, they will be looking for tons of money on short-term deals. Verlander is a Cy Young candidate in 2022 and I bet he’s looking for a two-year deal with a big dollar amount attached. DeGrom is probably the best pitcher — when healthy — and that’s the biggest risk with a long-term deal. Carlos Rodon is another great starter that will likely get a nice payday after a great year in San Fran. Other starters on the market includes Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea, Jose Quintana, Taijuan Walker, and Ross Stripling. Any team looking for a starting pitcher will be able to find something there. It may not be a number one guy, but there is a ton of names that can be serviceable in the starting five.
Almost every single team will see some sort of new mix in the bullpen and there are tons of relievers out there. While Edwin Diaz already signed a mammoth five-year deal with the Mets, Kenney Kansen, Taylor Rogers, Michael Fulmer, and a wide list of receivers will test the market.
If a team needs a catcher, Wilson Contreras will likely be the number one target. He’s 31 years old but he’s a good defender with some pop and any team needing a number-one guy will inquire. The Toronto Blue Jays are also rumoured to trade one of Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, or Gabriel Moreno, so there’s another avenue. Mike Zunino, Omar Narvaez, Gary Sanchez, Christian Vazquez, and Tucker Barnhart are also all free agents and they could easily be a good platoon option.
Looking across the infield, there are some interesting names for sure. At first base, Trey Mancini, Jose Abreu, Anthony Rizzo, and Josh Bell will all be top targets. They’re all over 30, so don’t expect huge deals, but teams will be interested, to say the least. Up the middle at second, Jean Segura, Adam Frazier, and Josh Harrison are the most intriguing names. None of them are top-tier players or anything, but they could easily be starters or even provide some platoon opportunities for teams.
Shortstop sees a handful of great players looking for new deals. Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner, and Dansby Swanson headline the free-agent shortstop class. All four are going to get massive deals and each team that lands one of these guys is going to be better. Third base doesn’t see a ton of big names on the market, but Justin Turner, Brandon Drury, Jace Peterson, and Evan Longoria are all free agents. Again, these may not be the best guys available, but they’re all great depth options that can provide a variety of things for teams.
The outfield is another interesting place where big names are available — and none bigger than Aaron Judge. He’s going to be paid this offseason and rightfully so. Other than Judge, teams will be looking at Andrew Benintendi, Joe Pederson, Brandon Nimmo, Mitch Haniger, Michael Conforto, J.D. Martinez, and Michael Brantley.
I’m no insider but here are my predictions for some of the big names on the market.
Jacob DeGrom: Astros
Justin Verlander: Blue Jays
Carlos Rodon: Rangers
Wilson Contreras: Tigers
Jose Abreu: White Sox
Trey Mancini: Mariners
Anthony Rizzo: Astros
Josh Bell: Yankees
Carlos Correa: Cubs
Xander Bogaerts: Twins
Trea Turner: Braves
Dansby Swanson: Red Sox
Aaron Judge: Giants
Andrew Benintendi: Marlins
Brandon Nimmo: Blue Jays