Top 10 MLB Free Agents
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.
With that, this is a look at the top 10 free agents, from the elite to those reasonably expected to sign a major league contract. Rankings are based on projected future performance and perceived market value:
1. Aaron Judge (30, OF, Yankees)
He does not play the game’s most premium position, but Judge has many factors in his favor: A potential bi-coastal bidding war, a Yankees franchise that should be highly motivated to retain him, and the AL-record 62 homers he slugged last season. Judge is set to get a monster contract after a historic 2022 campaign. The Yankees would be foolish not to 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. Carlos Correa (28, SS, Twins)
One year after topping this list, Correa is back after accepting an opt-out-laden, lockout-driven deal that paid him $35.5 million last season. After duplicating his on-base percentage (.366), and increasing his adjusted OPS but seeing a slip in some defensive metrics, Correa is a year older but just as good. It was somewhat of 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.
3. Trea Turner (29, SS, Dodgers)
There's nothing Turner can't do. He's a former National League batting champion with blazing speed and a decent amount of power. He should become one of the league's highest-paid players in 2023. Trea Turner is a legitimate game-changer. Will the Dodgers realize how special their Turner-Mookie Betts-Freddie Freeman power trio is, or will they return to “fiscal responsibility” and replace Turner internally? Either way, he will draw huge interest from Philly to Frisco and has a good shot at cracking the $300 million barrier.
4. Xander Bogaerts (30, SS, Red Sox)
The Red Sox's homegrown shortstop has opted out of his contract and officially 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. Bogaerts’ departure would only ramp up the angst in Boston one year ahead of Rafael Devers’ free agency. Bogaerts produced 6.1 fWAR last season and led all shortstops with a .377 OBP.
5. Dansby Swanson (29, SS, Braves)
Swanson couldn't have picked a better time to have a career year. The Atlanta Braves star earned his first All-Star nod and slashed .287/.342/.446 with 17 homers and 77 RBI through 131 games. Swanson blew away the shortstop field in outs above average (21) and trailed only Francisco Lindor with 6.4 WAR. He's positioned himself for a big payday along with the other star shortstops in the free agent class.
6. Jacob deGrom (34, SP, Mets)
deGrom brings the upside of a two-time Cy Young Award winner and a guy who struck out 14.3 batters per nine innings each of the past two seasons – and the downside of a pitcher limited to 26 starts over those two years due to assorted injuries. 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.
7. Justin Verlander (40, SP, Astros)
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.
8. Carlos Rodon (30, SP, Giants)
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. He fused the dominance of a career comeback year in 2021 with good health in 2022, making 31 starts and leading the majors in strikeouts per nine innings (12) and fielding independent pitching (2.25). He opted out of his Giants contract to test the free agent waters, and given how dominant he's been, he should be one of the highest-paid hurlers in the game.
9. Willson Contreras (30, C, Cubs)
After coming off of his third All-Star season, the veteran catcher will be the most coveted backstop on the open market by far. The question is if the Cubs are ready to bid farewell to the last everyday connection to their World Series winners. They could do worse than retain a catcher who’s still a four-win player, can still churn out a .815 OPS and would become a crucial part of any club’s foundation.
10. Clayton Kershaw (34, SP, Dodgers)
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.