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Here is the best free agent at every position

@feinsand
November 6, 2019

Whether you’re looking for a slick-fielding infielder or an outfielder with some pop, an innings-eating starter or a late-inning relief option, this year’s free-agent market includes a little bit of everything. So who is the best of the best? Here’s a look at the top player at every position, plus

Whether you’re looking for a slick-fielding infielder or an outfielder with some pop, an innings-eating starter or a late-inning relief option, this year’s free-agent market includes a little bit of everything.

So who is the best of the best? Here’s a look at the top player at every position, plus some other alternatives at each spot. Ages listed are as of Opening Day 2020.

Catcher: Yasmani Grandal, age 31

Grandal was second among all catchers in WAR (per FanGraphs) at 5.2, posting an .848 OPS with 28 home runs and 77 RBIs in 153 games (124 starts behind the plate, 16 at first base). Unlike a year ago, Grandal didn’t have to worry about the effects of having turned down a qualifying offer, as he was ineligible to receive one from the Brewers because he got one last year from the Dodgers.

Best of the rest: Robinson Chirinos, Jason Castro, Travis d'Arnaud, Martín Maldonado

Here are baseball's top 20 free agents

First base: José Abreu, age 33

Abreu had a solid season, hitting 33 homers with 123 RBIs (the second-highest total in the Majors) and an .834 OPS. Abreu seems destined to re-sign with the White Sox, so teams seeking help at first base will likely have to look elsewhere.

Best of the rest: Eric Thames, Mitch Moreland, Justin Smoak, Neil Walker

Everything you need to know about Abreu's QO

Second base: Jonathan Schoop, age 28

Second base is a relatively thin position in this year’s market, and Schoop has been on playoff teams in four of the past six seasons and was an All-Star in another. He posted a .777 OPS with 23 homers and 59 RBIs in 121 games with the Twins in 2019, boosting his OPS by nearly 100 points from the previous season.

Best of the rest: Starlin Castro, Brian Dozier, Brock Holt, Jason Kipnis

Latest Hot Stove rumors

Shortstop: Didi Gregorius, age 30

It’s a very shallow pool of free-agent shortstops, but there’s also a dearth of contending clubs seeking help at the position. Gregorius missed the first two-plus months as he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery, and while his defense and power stroke were there (16 home runs in 82 games), his .276 on-base percentage was the lowest of his career, 41 points below his career average entering the season. The lack of a qualifying offer will also boost his appeal.

Best of the rest: José Iglesias, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jordy Mercer

These teams could pursue Gregorius

Third base: Anthony Rendon, age 29

Rendon isn’t just the top third baseman available in free agency this offseason; he’s the best position player on the market. The Nationals All-Star was one of only seven players in the Majors with an OPS above 1.000, while his 126 RBIs were the most in baseball.

Best of the rest: Josh Donaldson, Mike Moustakas, Todd Frazier, Asdrúbal Cabrera

Is Nats reunion Rendon's most likely outcome?

Left field: Marcell Ozuna, age 29

Ozuna and Brett Gardner actually posted nearly identical statistics in 2019, but Ozuna gets the nod because of his age -- Gardner is 36. Ozuna didn’t come close to replicating his monster 2017 season during either of his two years in St. Louis, but he was far more consistent in '19 and should land a nice multiyear deal.

Best of the rest: Brett Gardner, Corey Dickerson

What Cards' payroll situation means for Ozuna

Center field: Cameron Maybin, age 32

If you’re looking for a starting center fielder, this is not the market for you. But Maybin had a renaissance as a role player for the Yankees, posting an .858 OPS with 11 home runs, 32 RBIs and 48 runs scored in 82 games. He will be a useful piece either as part of a platoon (.915 OPS vs. righties) or off the bench.

Best of the rest: Jarrod Dyson, Billy Hamilton, Juan Lagares

One free agent every club could re-sign

Right field: Nicholas Castellanos, age 28

Castellanos struggled through the first four months of his walk year, hitting 11 homers with a .790 OPS with the Tigers. A trade to the Cubs in July breathed new life into him, as Castellanos hit 16 home runs with a 1.002 OPS in 51 games with Chicago. His 58 doubles led the Majors.

Best of the rest: Yasiel Puig, Kole Calhoun

Castellanos could benefit from QO decisions

Designated hitter: Edwin Encarnación, age 37

Encarnación is the only player in the Majors with 30 home runs in each of the past eight seasons, swatting 34 between the Mariners and Yankees in 2019. Even heading into his age-37 season, Encarnacion will provide legitimate pop to any lineup, and with teams like the White Sox, Rangers and Blue Jays looking for help at DH, he should cash in with a solid one- or two-year deal.

Best of the rest: Mark Trumbo

Right-handed starting pitcher: Gerrit Cole, age 29

Cole is the top free agent in this year’s class, having put together a tremendous two-year run with the Astros (35-10, 2.68 ERA, 602 strikeouts in 412 2/3 innings). He is likely to break records for both the biggest overall pitching contract and the highest average annual value, with no fewer than a half-dozen teams reportedly preparing to take a run at him.

Best of the rest: Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler, Jake Odorizzi

Will Cole's next contract be a record-breaker?

Left-handed starting pitcher: Madison Bumgarner, age 30

Once upon a time, Bumgarner would have been considered the top overall starter on the market, but thanks to Cole’s dominance the past two seasons, Bumgarner will have to settle for being the best southpaw out there. Bumgarner -- who, despite making his debut in 2009 is still just 30 -- topped 200 innings for the first time since '16. His home-road splits were severe (2.93 ERA at home, 5.29 on the road), which could help the Giants in their efforts to bring him back.

Best of the rest: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Cole Hamels, Dallas Keuchel

Bumgarner, Smith receive qualifying offers

Right-handed relief pitcher: Will Harris, age 35

This year’s market isn’t loaded with proven closers, but Harris had the best ERA in the American League (and second in the Majors) among all pitchers with at least 60 innings, posting a 1.50 in 68 appearances. He’s 35, so he may have to shop around for a three-year deal, but given the importance of bullpens these days, he should find several solid offers.

Best of the rest: Dellin Betances, Daniel Hudson, Craig Stammen, Chris Martin, Joe Smith

Left-handed relief pitcher: Will Smith, age 30

This would have been Aroldis Chapman had he opted out of his contract, but instead he got a year added to his deal and is now signed by the Yankees through 2022. Smith has quietly become one of the better lefty relievers in the game after missing the '17 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Over the past two years, he has put up 2.66 ERA with 167 strikeouts in 118 1/3 inning and was an All-Star in '19.

Best of the rest: Drew Pomeranz, Jake Diekman

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.