Who is the best available free agent at each position?

December 4th, 2023

Shohei Ohtani figures to be the focal point of this entire offseason, but the free-agent market offers many attractive options at most positions.

Here’s a look at the top player at each spot, plus some other alternatives for every position.

Garver saw more time as a designated hitter than behind the plate in 2023, but his bat makes him an appealing catching candidate for any teams with such a need. Garver belted 19 home runs with an .870 OPS in 87 games, though his injury history will be something for potential suitors to consider.

Best of the rest: Victor Caratini, Yasmani Grandal, Austin Hedges, Martín Maldonado, Tom Murphy, Gary Sánchez

Taking out the 60-game season in 2020, Hoskins averaged 30 home runs per year between 2018-22, showing himself to be a reliable slugger for the Phillies. A torn ACL cost him the entire 2023 season, but he’s entering his age-31 season and should be able to return with his powerful swing intact.

Best of the rest: Brandon Belt, Garrett Cooper, C.J. Cron

Toronto declined its $18 million mutual option on Merrifield, sending the veteran into free agency. Although his days of leading the league in hits are behind him, the 34-year-old hit 11 home runs with 26 stolen bases and a .700 OPS in 145 games, earning an All-Star selection for the Blue Jays.

Best of the rest: Amed Rosario, Adam Frazier, Kiké Hernández, Tony Kemp, Donovan Solano

Following two straight offseasons featuring star-studded shortstop classes, this year’s free-agent market is barren of impact players at the position. Anderson batted over .300 each year from 2019-22, but his production declined significantly this past season, when he posted just a .582 OPS with one home run in 123 games, leading the White Sox to decline his club option. With few appealing options on the market, Anderson could land a starting job from a shortstop-needy club.

Best of the rest: Elvis Andrus, Brandon Crawford, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Adalberto Mondesi

Chapman hasn’t been able to replicate the early-career success he had in Oakland, when he finished in the top seven of American League MVP voting and won Gold Gloves in 2018 and '19, but the third baseman hit 27 home runs in both '21 and ’22, which should be enough for him to land a solid deal this winter. Chapman’s .756 OPS in his two years with Toronto represented a 40-point jump from his final year with Oakland, and he remains one of the best defensive players at the hot corner.

Best of the rest: Jeimer Candelario, Josh Donaldson, Evan Longoria, Mike Moustakas, Gio Urshela

After slugging 36 home runs for the Marlins in 2023, Soler -- the 2021 World Series MVP -- opted out of the final year ($9 million) of his deal, returning to the free-agent market. Soler led the AL with 48 homers in 2019, then hit 27 more in 2021, so his output this season was hardly a fluke. He turns 32 in February, so a nice multi-year deal for the outfielder/DH should be in the cards.

Best of the rest: Corey Dickerson, Robbie Grossman, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Joc Pederson, David Peralta, Tommy Pham, Jurickson Profar

Bellinger had his best year since his National League MVP season of 2019, hitting 26 home runs with an .881 OPS in 130 games during his first year with the Cubs. The 28-year-old took a one-year, $17.5 million deal with Chicago last winter, giving himself a chance to prove that he could revert to his early-career form. Bellinger did just that, setting himself up for a healthy, nine-figure contract this offseason.

Best of the rest: Harrison Bader, Aaron Hicks, Kevin Kiermaier, Jung Hoo Lee, Michael A. Taylor

Hernández’s first two-plus months in Seattle did not go well: a .688 OPS with a whopping 81 strikeouts against only nine walks in 243 plate appearances over 59 games. Things turned around for the now-31-year-old, who had 17 home runs and a .770 OPS over his final 101 games, playing a big role in the Mariners’ postseason push. Hernández has hit at least 25 home runs in each of his past four full seasons, making him one of the better bats on the market this winter.

Best of the rest: Joey Gallo, Randal Grichuk, Hunter Renfroe

Ohtani is unlikely to be a two-way unicorn in 2024, but whichever team signs him will likely get him back on the mound in 2025. Ohtani’s bat alone makes him the most valuable member of this year’s free-agent class, but the prospect of him pitching again will make him the most intriguing free agent the game has ever seen.

Best of the rest: J.D. Martinez, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Santana, Justin Turner

RH starting pitcher:
Yamamoto was posted by the Orix Buffaloes on Nov. 21, giving Major League teams a chance to land the talented Japanese ace until his 45-day signing window closes on Jan. 4. Yamamoto had another stellar season (17-6, 1.16 ERA), winning his third consecutive Sawamura Award -- Japan’s equivalent to the Cy Young Award. The right-hander is only 25 years old and could command the second-biggest deal of the offseason behind Ohtani.

Best of the rest: Jack Flaherty, Lucas Giolito, Seth Lugo, Yariel Rodríguez, Marcus Stroman, Michael Wacha

LH starting pitcher:
Seven weeks into the season, it looked like Snell was wasting a chance to land a big contract after starting 1-6 with a 5.40 ERA. But the former AL Cy Young winner went on a legendary run after that, going 13-3 with a 1.20 ERA over his final 23 starts, becoming just the seventh pitcher in history to capture Cy Young Awards in both leagues.

Best of the rest: Shōta Imanaga, Clayton Kershaw, Jordan Montgomery, James Paxton, Eduardo Rodriguez

RH relief pitcher: Hector Neris
Neris brings closing experience with him to the free-agent market, but the 34-year-old excelled in a setup role with the Astros in 2023, posting a 1.71 ERA in 71 appearances for Houston. Neris saved 84 games for the Phillies from 2016-21, so teams seeking ninth-inning help could turn to Neris to move back into a closer role.

Best of the rest: Jordan Hicks, Craig Kimbrel, Trevor May, David Robertson

LH relief pitcher:
Aside from his bizarre 2022 season, Hader has been one of the best relievers in the game for the past six seasons, earning five All-Star selections. The left-hander was dominant in his first full season with the Padres, pitching to a 1.28 ERA with 33 saves in 61 appearances. Edwin Díaz landed a record five-year, $102 million deal as a free agent last winter, but Hader could establish a new mark for closers this offseason.

Best of the rest: Aroldis Chapman, Matt Moore, Wandy Peralta, Will Smith, Brent Suter