The nine top free agents, all likely to command nine-figure deals, remain on the board. But if history is a guide, they may start signing soon — maybe at the winter meetings, beginning this weekend.
Predicting free agency isn’t something to be tried at home. But here’s how we’d guess today:
1. Aaron Judge: The clear No. 1 guy has only two known teams seriously in the bidding, no reflection on him and all about the dollars he’ll command — $300 million plus. (The Dodgers may have rare money concerns, and are focusing on pitching and shortstop.) The Yankees remain favored. But if he’s upset at the October booing, or possibly the spring offer (or team announcement of such), or prefers to be nearer his parents in Linden, Calif., two hours from San Francisco, he has a fine second option. Although, one rival exec doubts the Giants: “He’s going to leave the greatest market to go across country to a team where it’s hard to hit homers? Come on.” Favorites: 1. Yankees; 2 Giants.
2. Jacob deGrom: Mets people seem to think he prefers to return (well, he could have fooled me!), and there’s some concern about losing their homegrown uber-talent and watching him win Cy Young awards elsewhere, so he may still be their top remaining target. The Rays’ recent mention, via SNY, the closest place to his DeLand, Fla., hometown, seems absurd, as they are known for getting a bargain, not for paying $40 million (and doubling their payroll!) for the possibility of greatness (deGrom made $400,000 per inning in 2021-22). Favorites: 1. Mets; 2. Rangers.
3. Carlos Correa: The Twins are expected to go hard to keep their surprise signee. But could he become a consolation prize for the Giants? Favorites: 1. Twins; 2. Giants.
4. Trea Turner: Philly fans have targeted him, although some in the front office also like Xander Bogaerts (baseball president Dave Dombrowski has Boston ties). Turner has the Nats link to Bryce Harper and his wife is from New Jersey. Favorites: 1. Phillies; 2. Dodgers.
5. Xander Bogaerts: This time he’s willing to consider teams other than the Red Sox, and the Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Cubs, Phillies and many others are interested. He and Boston started slowly, but don’t they need him? Favorites: 1. Red Sox; 2. Phillies.
6. Dansby Swanson: If rumors are true that the Braves didn’t accede to his $140 million counter — the same deal Trevor Story and Javier Baez got — it’s obvious why some Atlanta people are pessimistic. Still, he is from Georgia. Favorites: 1. Cubs; 2. Braves.
7. Justin Verlander: “If he doesn’t stay with the Astros, he’ll probably go to the Dodgers,” says the exec of an interested team. Houston sees it that way, too, as he has a home in LA. And word as of midweek is the Astros and Verlander weren’t close. The Yankees and Mets are interested (he is close with Gerrit Cole). Favorites: 1. Dodgers; 2. Mets/Yankees.
8. Carlos Rodon: He’s improved his position more than anyone. Makes more sense for Texas than deGrom due to relative youth. Giants presumably would like him back, too. Favorites: 1. Rangers; 2 Yankees.
9. Brandon Nimmo: While he’s not Judge, he’s the next best outfield option. The Mets are concentrating on pitching at the moment and would need to play catch up. Rays and Jays among others in. Favorites: 1. Giants; 2. Mets.