With the Atlanta Braves winning the World Series earlier this week, it is time to turn the page on the 2021 baseball season and look forward to the 2022 season. However, before we can think about who will win the World Series next year, we have to get through the free agency, which is loaded with a ton of star-studded names.
MLB free agency will officially begin on Sunday and it should be fun this winter to see how it all plays out. Below we’ll break down the top free agents in this year’s class and where they might sign next.
2022 MLB free agent rankings
10. Javier Baez, Second base/Shortstop
Baez was one of the three building block players that the Chicago Cubs moved at the trade deadline. The veteran infielder was traded to the New York Mets, where he hit .299/.371/.515 with nine home runs and 22 RBI in 186 plate appearances (47 games). The Mets could end up bringing back Baez to pair with Francisco Lindor for the foreseeable future. Or he could end up with a team such as the Red Sox, who could reportedly be a sleeper in the shortstop market this offseason.
9. Trevor Story, Second base/Shortstop
After spending the last six years with the Colorado Rockies, it appears as if Story will be playing elsewhere next season. The two-time All-Star infielder was one of Colorado’s best players this season.
Story hit .251/.329/.471 with 24 home runs and 75 RBI last season and will be highly coveted on the hot stove. One team to keep an eye out for when it comes to Story is the New York Yankees, who were trying to acquire him at the trade deadline.
8. Kris Bryant, Third base/Outfield
Along with Baez, Kris Bryant was also traded by the Cubs at the trade deadline. Bryant went to the San Francisco Giants, where he helped them win the NL West and eclipse the 100-win mark.
The 29-year-old slugger hit .262/.344/.444 with seven home runs and 22 RBI in 212 plate appearances (51 games). The Mets and Seattle Mariners are two teams to keep an eye out for as they both tried to acquire Bryant.
7. Kevin Gausman, Starting pitcher
Gausman picked up where left off in 2020 and had an all-star season in 2021 and was one of the main reasons why the Giants made the playoffs. The starting pitcher accepted a one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer from San Francisco last offseason and outplayed that contract this season. He posted a career-high 14 wins, 2.81 ERA, and 227 strikeouts in 192 IP. I think Gausman stays in San Francisco for the foreseeable future as the team’s bonafide ace.
6. Freddie Freeman, First base
The veteran first baseman played an integral part in the Braves winning the World Series this season. Freeman slashed .304/.420/.625 with five home runs and 11 RBI in 16 playoff games.
In the regular season, the All-Star first baseman hit over .300 at the plate for the sixth time in his career. He also hit 31 home runs and 83 RBI. We should expect Freeman should be back with the Braves next season and sign another multi-year deal.
5. Clayton Kershaw, Starting pitcher
The veteran pitcher and former NL Cy Young award winner did not play in the postseason due to an arm injury. Despite not being to pitch in the playoffs, Kershaw still produced a solid season with a 10-8 record, 3.55 ERA, and 144 strikeouts in 121.2 IP.
The 33-year-old could return to the Dodgers for a couple of years, but Los Angeles also has to factor in pending free agents Max Scherzer and Kenley Jansen.
4. Marcus Semien, Second base/Shortstop
The veteran infielder bet on himself, taking a one-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, and outperformed his contract. The 30-year-old Semien had a career-year at the plate, hitting .265/.334/.538 with 45 home runs and 102 RBI.
For his efforts, the veteran infielder was named to his first All-Star team. Semien is projected to receive a four-year, $78 million deal, according to Spotrac. Toronto would like to re-sign the 30-year-old, however he will have a robust market for his services.
3. Nick Castellanos, Outfielder
Castellanos exercised his opt-out clause from the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday and will become an unrestricted free agent. The first-time All-Star had two years and $34 million remaining on his contract.
Castellanos had an outstanding season for the Reds, slugging .309/.362/.576 with 34 home runs and 102 RBI. The 29-year-old outfielder was a part of one of the best offenses in MLB, which featured Joey Votto, Jesse Winkler, and rookie Jonathan India. Castellanos’ calculated market value is a six-year deal worth $128 million, per Spotrac. The veteran is on Colorado’s list of targets, according to Jim Bowden of The Athletic.
2. Carlos Correa, Shortstop
Correa will likely receive a major pay day in free agency as he’s one of the best players on the market. The Astros would love to keep the dynamic shortstop after they lost George Springer to the Toronto Blue Jays last offseason. However, there are a lot of teams, who have the payroll space to offer a huge contract to the 27-year-old.
This season, Correa hit .279/.366/.485 with a career-high 26 home runs and 92 RBI. Spotrac projects his calculated market value to be a 10-year, $266 million contract. If Correa gets anywhere close to that number, he’ll set the market for his position this offseason.
1. Max Scherzer, Starting pitcher
Finally, we wrap up our top-10 rankings with Max Scherzer, who was surprisingly traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers from the Washington Nationals. Scherzer dominated the second half of the season, posting a perfect 7-0 record, 1.98 ERA, and 89 strikeouts in 68.1 IP (11 games). At 37-year-old, Scherzer will still demand a ton of interest on the market and is arguably the best free agent available for 2022.