Ranking the top 25 potential MLB free agents for 2022-23 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The 2023 MLB free agent market isn't as loaded as last winter's, but there still are some big names who could end up wearing new uniforms next season.
New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom highlight the upcoming free agent class. Other stars, such as Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts and Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander, have player options for 2023. Bogaerts is expected to decline his option and become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.
Other Red Sox players set to hit free agency include right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, designated hitter J.D. Martinez, and righty Michael Wacha. Suffice it to say, Boston's front office has a busy offseason ahead.
So, who could the Red Sox target this winter? Here are the top 25 players who could potentially hit the open market after this season.
1. Aaron Judge, OF
Judge is set to get a monster contract after a historic 2022 campaign. The Yankees would be foolish to not lock up the face of their franchise, and if they don't act on it sooner than later they could lose him to a rival like the New York Mets or the Boston Red Sox.
2. Jacob deGrom, RHP
2023 player option: $30.5 million
deGrom remains the best pitcher in baseball when healthy. Unfortunately, that hasn't been all that often as of late. He'll still sign for big money this offseason, but injuries are a real concern as the two-time Cy Young award winner reaches his mid-30s.
3. Trea Turner, SS
There's nothing Turner can't do. He's a former National League batting champion with blazing speed and the power to boot. He should become one of the league's highest-paid players in 2023.
4. Nolan Arenado, 3B
2023 player option: $35 million
Arenado is unlikely to opt out of his contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. The seven-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glover has five years and $144 million left on his deal. But if he does, he'll immediately become one of the most coveted players on the market.
5. Xander Bogaerts, SS
2023 player option: $20 million
The Red Sox' homegrown shortstop is expected to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. With no extension in sight and seemingly no strong desire from Boston to get a deal done, there's a strong chance Bogaerts will be wearing a new uniform in 2023.
6. Carlos Correa, SS
2023 player option: $35.1 million
It's been a down year by Correa's lofty standards, but he's undoubtedly still one of the game's premier shortstops and should land a huge long-term deal this offseason. He also has a player option for 2024 if he decides to stay in Minnesota next year.
7. Carlos Rodon, LHP
2023 player option: $22.5 million
Rodon has become one of the best pitchers in MLB over the last couple of seasons with the Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants. The southpaw is expected to opt out of his current contract and test the free agent waters, and given how dominant he's been, he should be one of the highest-paid hurlers in the game.
8. Justin Verlander, RHP
2023 player option: $25 million
Verlander has been one of the best stories of the 2022 season. In his return from Tommy John surgery, all the aging veteran has done is post a league-leading 1.84 ERA and 0.86 WHIP through 24 starts. It's incredible what he continues to accomplish at this stage of his career, and a team will reward him for his efforts with a sizable deal this offseason.
9. Willson Contreras, C
Why the Chicago Cubs held on to Contreras at the trade deadline remains a mystery. The veteran catcher will be the most coveted backstop on the open market by far coming off his third All-Star season.
10. Edwin Diaz, RHP
Between his entrance and his performance in 2022, Diaz is one of the most electrifying players in baseball. The two-time All-Star has a career-best 1.38 ERA with an 0.90 WHIP and 29 saves through 52 appearances. He enters free agency as unquestionably the top bullpen arm available.
11. Dansby Swanson, SS
Swanson couldn't have picked a better time to have a career year. The Atlanta Braves star earned his first All-Star nod and is slashing .287/.342/.446 with 17 homers and 77 RBI through 131 games. He's positioned himself for a big payday along with the other star shortstops in the free agent class.
12. Clayton Kershaw, LHP
Kershaw has added another stellar year to his Hall of Fame resume with a 7-3 record and a 2.64 ERA through 15 starts. It's difficult to imagine Kershaw finishing his career with a team other than the Dodgers at this point.
13. Jose Abreu, 1B
Age has yet to catch up with Abreu as the former American League MVP continues to rake for the Chicago White Sox. As of Thursday, he leads the AL in hits (151) and boasts a .840 OPS. He'll have no problem getting a lucrative deal with those numbers.
14. Josh Bell, 1B
Bell should be one of the most coveted first basemen in free agency this winter as a switch-hitter with power and the ability to get on base. He enjoyed an outstanding season with the Washington Nationals and while that success hasn't yet translated to San Diego, the Padres should still look to extend him.
15. Chris Bassitt, RHP
2023 mutual option: $19 million
Bassitt is expected to opt out of his $19 million mutual option, which will make him one of the better pitchers available in a somewhat underwhelming market. The former Oakland A's right-hander has proven this season he can be a rock-solid mid-rotation arm wherever he goes.
16. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
2023 player option: $16 million
Rizzo's 30 homers so far this season marks his highest total since 2017. His .832 OPS is his highest since 2019. It's fair to assume both he and the Yankees will want to make another deal happen this winter.
17. Luis Severino, RHP
2023 club option: $15 million
Severino is enjoying a bounce-back season that should convince the Yankees to exercise his option as long as he stays healthy. In both of his full seasons, he has finished top 10 in Cy Young award voting.
18. Adam Wainwright, RHP
Wainwright just continues to produce in his 17th MLB season, all with the Cardinals. I wouldn't expect him to sign with a new team in free agency at this stage of his career.
19. Brandon Nimmo, OF
Nimmo's career .385 OBP and stellar defense in center field will make him an attractive free agent this offseason. He's a refreshing talent in today's game, which is so dominated by the long ball.
20. Trey Mancini, 1B/OF
2023 mutual option: $10 million
The move to Houston should help Mancini's free-agent stock this offseason. In 23 games, the former Baltimore Oriole has six homers.
21. Nathan Eovaldi, RHP
Injuries will forever be a giant question mark for Eovaldi but when he's healthy, he can anchor a pitching staff. The Boston Red Sox righty finished fourth in Cy Young voting in 2021 and has shown flashes of that dominance when at full strength this season. That should be enough to entice the Red Sox front office to bring him back for 2023.
22. Andrew Benintendi, OF
Since being traded from the Red Sox to the Royals, Benintendi has refined his game to focus more on his contact and defense. It has paid dividends as he earned his first All-Star nod this season and is on pace to set a career-high in batting average.
23. J.D. Martinez, DH
Was it simply a long slump, or are we starting to see a real decline for Martinez? The Red Sox DH has experienced a serious power outage this season with only 11 homers through 113 games. His 36 doubles are worth noting, but the lack of power could scare some teams off -- including Boston -- this offseason.
24. Charlie Morton, RHP
2023 club option: $20 million
Morton can still pitch at a high level as he approaches his 40s, but is his production worth $20 million next season? The Braves will have to make that decision before the free agency begins.
25. Kenley Jansen, RHP
Jansen's first season in Atlanta has mostly been a success. The former Dodgers star has a league-high 30 saves and a 3.22 FIP through 49 appearances. Also impressive is his 12.0 SO/9, his second-highest mark since 2017.