The General Managers Meetings begin next week, marking the unofficial start to the 2018-19 Hot Stove season. A number of trade options will surely be bandied about between executives in Carlsbad, Calif., but teams will be surveying the free-agent market to see how they can improve their rosters without having to give up talent.
This year's market might be top-heavy with a pair of superstars -- you may have heard that Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are free agents -- but every position has some appealing options.
• Complete list of free agents this offseason
So who's the best of the best? Here's a look at the top free-agent player at every position, plus some other alternatives at each spot. (Ages listed are as of Opening Day 2019.)
Catcher: Yasmani Grandal, age 29
Among catchers with at least 400 plate appearances, Grandal's .815 OPS trailed only Wilson Ramos (.845) and J.T. Realmuto (.825). Ramos is also a free agent, but Grandal brings more power, is a switch-hitter, walked 40 more times and is considered my most scouts to be better behind the plate. Grandal's rough postseason will temper some enthusiasm for him, but he's still the top guy available.
Best of the rest: Ramos, Jonathan Lucroy, Kurt Suzuki
First base: Steve Pearce, age 35
With no clear-cut starters at first base on the free-agent market, Pearce stands out for his .890 OPS in 251 plate appearances. He was good against righties (.828 OPS) and superb against lefties (.959), and the 2018 World Series MVP would make a solid addition to many rosters, especially since he can also play the outfield in a pinch.
Best of the rest:Logan Morrison, Matt Adams, Lucas Duda
Second base: Daniel Murphy, age 33
This might be the deepest position on the free-agent market his year, and Murphy is the most intriguing name. After missing the first 2 1/2 months of the season, Murphy shook off the rust following a slow first month, hitting .328/.366/.508 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs in his final 69 games.
Best of the rest:Jed Lowrie, DJ LeMahieu, James Dozier
Shortstop: Manny Machado, age 26
The jewel of this free-agent class, Machado is expected to battle Harper for the biggest contract in the game's history. Machado is a true franchise player entering his prime. He spent much of his career at third base, and it's possible a team could pursue him to play the hot corner, but he has said his preference is to stick at short.
Best of the rest:Asdrubal Cabrera, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jose Iglesias
Third base: Josh Donaldson, age 33
Third base has some appealing options, but none with the potential to do the type of damage that Donaldson can do. The 2015 American League MVP Award winner battled injury for most of the season, but when he's right, Donaldson is a middle-of-the-order beast.
Best of the rest:David Freese, Mike Moustakas
Left field: Michael Brantley, age 31
Brantley picked the right time for a healthy, bounceback season, posting an .832 OPS in 143 games in 2018 after playing only 101 games in the previous two years combined. Marwin Gonzalez also deserves a mention here, though he could draw interest as an outfielder, shortstop or a second baseman.
Best of the rest:Carlos Gonzalez, Cameron Maybin
Center field: A.J. Pollock, age 31
One of the top available talents this offseason, Pollock would be in for a monster payday if not for his health. He's missed 99 games over the past two seasons after playing only 12 games in 2016. Pollock has performed when he's been on the field, though, and will be a highly sought-after player.
Best of the rest:Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen, Denard Span
Right field: Bryce Harper, age 26
Just when it looked like his contract year would be something of a disappointment, Harper used the momentum of his Home Run Derby victory to post a huge second half (.972 OPS). He could be the first player to sign a free-agent deal that exceeds $300 million. (Giancarlo Stanton signed a deal for more than $300 million, but he was not a free agent at the time.)
Best of the rest:Nick Markakis, Carlos Gomez, Lonnie Chisenhall
Designated hitter: Nelson Cruz, age 38
Some trivia: How many big leaguers have hit 200 home runs since the start of the 2014 season? Answer: One. Cruz's 203 dingers lead all players over the past five seasons, while he and Giancarlo Stanton have hit 305 each since the start of the 2010 season. Even at 38, the guy can flat-out hit.
Best of the rest:Evan Gattis, Brian McCann, Mark Reynolds
Left-handed starting pitcher: Patrick Corbin, age 29
Corbin is the top starter available this offseason. He finished in the top five in the NL in strikeouts, WHIP, FIP, strikeouts per nine innings and walk/strikeout ratio, posting a career season at the perfect time. Beyond Machado and Harper, the 29-year-old will be one of the biggest prizes of the offseason.
Best of the rest:J.A. Happ, Dallas Keuchel, Wade Miley,Giovany Gonzalez, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Carsten Sabathia
Right-handed starting pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi, age 29
Eovaldi's stock rose greatly during the postseason, as he proved that he could dominate the best lineups in the league. His 100-plus mph fastball and splitter/slider have always been there, but the addition of the cutter since his 2016 Tommy John surgery have made him a more complete pitcher. Eovaldi threw the cutter 32.3 percent of the time this season after throwing it only 7.6 percent of the time in '16.
Best of the rest:Charlie Morton, Lance Lynn, Matt Harvey, Anibal Sanchez, Tyson Ross, Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill
Right-handed relief pitcher: Craig Kimbrel, age 30
A seven-time All-Star, Kimbrel has been one of the top closers in the game for the entire decade. His 4.5 walks per nine innings was uncharacteristically high, and his postseason command woes might serve as a warning sign to some teams, but Kimbrel remains an elite closer and will likely be rewarded with a four- or five-year contract in the range of the highest-paid closers.
Best of the rest:Player Page for David Robertson, Jeurys Familia, Adam Ottavino, Kelvin Herrera, Cody Allen, Brad Brach, Joakim Soria
Left-handed relief pitcher: Andrew Miller, age 33
Miller's last contract -- four years, $36 million -- was one of the best values in the game, as the left-hander was selected to two All-Star Games while posting a 1.63 ERA from 2015-17. His '18 season was marred by shoulder and knee problems, limiting him to 34 innings, but he remains the best lefty reliever in the game when healthy. If teams shy away because of the health issues, Miller could wind up being a great value once again.
Best of the rest:Zach Britton, Justin Wilson, Tony Sipp, Oliver Perez, Zach Duke