Here's how the next 3 free-agent classes look

April 1st, 2021

The last couple of offseasons have been memorable, with superstars like Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, George Springer, DJ LeMahieu, Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg and Zack Wheeler signing big-time deals.

And there will be plenty more big names to hit the open market in the coming offseasons. Teams shopping for difference-making upgrades through free agency will have plenty to look forward to.

Here's a look at the notable players at each position who are set to become free agents in 2021-22 and beyond.

Notable free agents for 2021-22
Catcher: Travis d'Arnaud, Yadier Molina, Buster Posey (club option), Christian Vazquez (club option)
First base: Freddie Freeman, Anthony Rizzo, Brandon Belt
Second base: Starlin Castro, Cesar Hernandez (club option)
Third base: Nolan Arenado (opt-out), Kris Bryant, Eduardo Escobar, Kyle Seager (club option), José Ramírez (club option)
Shortstop: Javier Báez, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Andrelton Simmons, Brandon Crawford
Outfield: Michael Conforto, Tommy Pham, Starling Marte, Kyle Schwarber (mutual option), Eddie Rosario, Corey Dickerson, Nick Castellanos (opt-out), Charlie Blackmon (player option), Andrew McCutchen (club option), Jackie Bradley Jr. (opt-out)
Designated hitter: Jorge Soler, Khris Davis, Nelson Cruz, J.D. Martinez (opt-out)
Starting pitchers: Noah Syndergaard, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Lance Lynn, Marcus Stroman, Kevin Gausman, Corey Kluber, Eduardo Rodriguez, Dylan Bundy, James Paxton, Robbie Ray, Johnny Cueto (club option), Trevor Bauer (opt-out)
Relievers: Kenley Jansen, Trevor Rosenthal, Brad Hand, Andrew Miller, Jeurys Familia, Archie Bradley, Raisel Iglesias, Adam Ottavino, Kirby Yates

If all the players in line for free agency in the 2021-22 offseason actually reach the open market, it might be one of the best classes ever.

Start with the shortstops … wow. Báez, Correa, Seager and Story are four huge stars at the position in their prime. All four of them would be free agents in their primes -- Correa will be 27 in 2022, Seager 28, and Báez and Story 29.

On top of all that, there's the Braves' Freeman, the 2020 NL MVP, who's been one of the top first basemen in the NL for years, plus the Cubs' former MVP Bryant. The starting-pitcher class is also a star-studded group, especially if Syndergaard and Verlander successfully return from Tommy John surgery.

Notable free agents for 2022-23
Catcher: Willson Contreras, Gary Sánchez
First base: José Abreu, Yuli Gurriel, Josh Bell, Carlos Santana, Miguel Sanó (club option), Max Muncy (club option), Eric Hosmer (opt-out)
Second base: Ketel Marte (club option), Kolten Wong (club option), Kiké Hernandez
Third base: Evan Longoria (club option), José Ramírez (club option), Justin Turner (club option)
Shortstop: Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson, Didi Gregorius, Miguel Rojas, Tim Anderson (club option), Jean Segura (club option)
Outfield: Aaron Judge, Joey Gallo, Byron Buxton, Brandon Nimmo, Andrew Benintendi, Andrew McCutchen, Lorenzo Cain, Adam Duvall, Justin Upton, Wil Myers (club option), Charlie Blackmon (player option), A.J. Pollock (player option), Kevin Kiermaier (club option), Whit Merrifield (club option),
Designated hitter: J.D. Martinez
Starting pitchers: Jacob deGrom (opt-out), Chris Sale (opt-out), Aaron Nola (club option), Sonny Gray (club option), David Price, Mike Clevinger, José Berríos, Sean Manaea, Luis Severino (club option), Carlos Martínez (club option), Nathan Eovaldi, Jameson Taillon, Matthew Boyd, Michael Fulmer, Joe Musgrove, Zach Eflin, Johnny Cueto
Relievers: Aroldis Chapman, Edwin Díaz, Zack Britton, Ryan Pressly, Seth Lugo, Taylor Rogers, Chad Green, Craig Kimbrel, Will Smith (club option), Blake Treinen (club option)

All eyes will be on deGrom after the 2022 season. Given he’ll be 34 years old by that point, he may consider opting out of the final guaranteed year on his deal with the Mets in an effort to secure a longer contract. The right-hander is owed $32.5 million in 2023, and he has a club option worth $32.5 million in 2024.

Red Sox ace Chris Sale will be able to opt out as well, though he’s coming off Tommy John surgery and will have a guaranteed $55 million, plus a $20 million vesting option in 2025, remaining on his deal after the ’22 season. If both deGrom and Sale stay put, the best free-agent starter could be Clevinger, who was traded from the Indians to the Padres in August.

Judge is the headliner on the position-player side, but the Yankees will likely make a strong effort to re-sign the face of their franchise.

Although not as strong as the previous year’s group, this shortstop class has its share of quality options, led by Turner and Swanson, and clubs in need of a catcher will be able to consider Contreras and Sánchez. The relief-pitcher class could also be a strong one, with Chapman, Díaz, Britton, Pressly, Green and Lugo all available.

Potential free agents for 2023-24
If you want to go a little further down the line, here are some of the star players who could become free agents following the '23 season: Manny Machado (opt-out), José Ramírez, Matt Chapman, Cody Bellinger, Rhys Hoskins, Blake Snell, Josh Hader, Yu Darvish, Tyler Glasnow, Aaron Nola, Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Luis Severino, Jacob deGrom (club option), Dinelson Lamet, Jack Flaherty, Lucas Giolito, Julio Urías.

The Indians locked up Ramírez on a team-friendly deal a few years ago, and it paid off when he blossomed into an MVP candidate. That contract puts him on track for free agency after 2023, assuming Cleveland picks up his pair of contract options. He could be joined by Bellinger, the 2019 NL MVP, Chapman, one of the top two-way third basemen in baseball, and maybe even Machado if he opts out to look for a new and improved megadeal.

While a lot could change before then, this starting-pitcher class is shaping up to be a great one, with Snell, Darvish, Giolito, Glasnow, Castillo, Flaherty, Lamet and Urías eligible for free agency. Nola, Gray and Severino could also be part of this class if each has his club option picked up after 2022. And if deGrom doesn't opt out of his deal prior to the 2023 campaign, the Mets will have a decision to make on his $32.5 million club option for '24.