We’ve all heard about the vaunted free-agent shortstop class of 2021-22, but this year’s market also features plenty of talent at other positions. While much of the attention this offseason will focus on the shortstops -- and rightfully so -- teams will be looking for help all around the diamond.
C: Yan Gomes, age 34
Catcher is not a particularly deep position, especially now that Buster Posey has announced his retirement and Mike Zunino had his option picked up. Gomes is the best of the bunch after hitting 14 home runs with 52 RBIs and a .723 OPS in 103 games between the Nationals and Athletics.
Best of the rest: Roberto Pérez, Kurt Suzuki
1B: Freddie Freeman, age 32
The Braves will likely do what is necessary to lock up their franchise first baseman, but Freeman should draw significant interest from other clubs. The 2020 National League Most Valuable Player had another stellar season in '21, slashing .300/.393/.503 with 31 home runs and a league-high 120 runs scored in 159 games.
Best of the rest: Brad Miller, Anthony Rizzo, Ryan Zimmerman
2B: Marcus Semien, age 31
We’ll cheat a little here because Semien will likely be pursued as a shortstop, but after playing second base all year for the Blue Jays, he’s the cream of the crop for teams looking for an impact player. Semien established a new record for home runs in a single season by a second baseman with 45, slashing .265/.334/.538 while playing all 162 games.
Best of the rest: Chris Taylor, Eduardo Escobar, Josh Harrison, Donovan Solano
SS: Carlos Correa, age 27
Correa is the choice here, though an argument could be made for several others. Correa had a bounce-back season in 2021, slashing .279/.366/.485 with 26 homers and 92 RBIs in 148 games for the Astros, earning his second All-Star selection.
Best of the rest: Javier Báez, Corey Seager, Trevor Story
3B: Kris Bryant, age 30
Bryant played more games in the outfield than at third base this season, and while it’s possible that he signs with a club to play left field, he has played two-thirds of his career games at the hot corner. Bryant rebounded from a subpar 2020 season, slashing a combined .265/.353/.481 with 25 home runs and 73 RBIs in 144 games with the Cubs and Giants.
Best of the rest: Matt Duffy, Kyle Seager, Jonathan Villar
LF: Kyle Schwarber, age 29
If the universal designated hitter is introduced in 2022, interest in Schwarber will swell this winter. If not, teams will have to decide whether his powerful bat -- he swatted 32 home runs with a .928 OPS in 113 games between the Nationals and Red Sox -- is more valuable than strong defense in left field. Either way, Schwarber will have a number of suitors looking to add some pop to their lineup.
Best of the rest: Mark Canha, Corey Dickerson, Brett Gardner, Andrew McCutchen, Tommy Pham, Eddie Rosario
CF: Starling Marte, age 33
The Majors’ stolen-base leader with 47, Marte is the clear-cut choice as the market’s top center fielder. Marte posted a .310/.383/.458 slash line with the Marlins and Athletics, scoring 89 runs in 120 games. His stellar play in center -- he ranked in the 85th percentile in Outs Above Average -- should make him a popular target despite the fact that he’s entering his age-33 season.
Best of the rest: Odúbel Herrera, Kevin Pillar
RF: Nick Castellanos, age 30
After posting the best overall season of his career, Castellanos opted out of the final two years and $34 million of his contract with the Reds. Castellanos slashed .309/.362/.576 with 34 homers and 100 RBIs in 138 games, earning his first All-Star selection in the process. Castellanos will be the most coveted outfield bat on the market this winter.
Best of the rest: Michael Conforto, Avisaíl García, Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler
Best of the rest: Jed Lowrie, Albert Pujols
RH starting pitcher: Max Scherzer, age 37
It’s not often that a 37-year-old tops the list of free-agent starters, but Scherzer remains one of the best pitchers in the game. He went 15-4 with a 2.46 ERA in 30 starts for the Nationals and Dodgers, including a remarkable 7-0 record and 1.98 ERA in 11 starts after being traded to Los Angeles. Even at his age, Scherzer figures to land a three-year contract at an average annual value well north of $30 million.
Best of the rest: Alex Cobb, Anthony DeSclafani, Kevin Gausman, Jon Gray, Zack Greinke, Michael Pineda, Marcus Stroman
LH starting pitcher: Robbie Ray, age 30
Ray is back on the market after signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the Blue Jays last winter. He should find a more receptive market this offseason after going 13-7 with a 2.84 ERA in 32 starts, a year that concluded with an American League Cy Young Award. Ray led the AL in innings pitched (193 1/3), strikeouts (248), ERA+ (154) and WHIP (1.05), posting his finest year since 2017, the lone All-Star season of his career.
Best of the rest: J.A. Happ, Clayton Kershaw, Steven Matz, Carlos Rodón, Drew Smyly, Alex Wood
RH relief pitcher: Raisel Iglesias, age 32
One of only 10 relievers in the Majors to post a WAR of 2.0 or better, Iglesias is the top closer available on this year’s market. He saved 34 games and finished a league-high 59, posting a 2.57 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. He was susceptible to the long ball, allowing 11 home runs in 70 innings, but he walked just 12 and struck out 103 batters.
Best of the rest: Brad Boxberger, Archie Bradley, Alex Colomé, Kenley Jansen, Ian Kennedy, Héctor Neris, Adam Ottavino, Yusmeiro Petit, Steve Cishek, Ryan Tepera
LH relief pitcher: Andrew Chafin, age 32
Chafin was outstanding for both the Cubs and Athletics, combining for a 1.83 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP and a .186 opponent batting average in 71 total appearances. He was effective against both lefties (.473 OPS) and righties (.551 OPS), making him an ideal late-inning option given the three-batter minimum rule.
Best of the rest: José Álvarez, Aaron Loup