We are obviously, and rightly, caught up in the 2020 free agency world right now. But know that teams aren’t just thinking about this offseason. They have many other offseasons to think about … including, vitally, next year’s.
• MLB Free Agent & Hot Stove Tracker
So this week, we take a look at the top free agent for each team after the 2021 season. These are the players who will either hit the market next year or will be re-signed by their teams before then. No matter what goes down, it’s decision time for each of these players and their teams. Each player is listed with his age as of Opening Day '22.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Tanner Roark, RHP (age 35)
Toronto didn’t get much for its money in the first year of Roark's two-year contract, but he was a reliable starter up until last year, and those aren’t so easy to find.
Orioles: Alex Cobb, RHP (age 34)
Cobb could end up being trade bait for Baltimore this year, or maybe a solidifying starter on a team that could use one. Sorry: Chris Davis still has one year left on his deal after this one.
Rays: Yoshi Tsutsugo, DH/OF/3B (age 30)
The Rays didn’t get all they wanted out of Tsutsugo, but he’s got one more year to try to earn out that contract, or at least the posting fee.
Red Sox: Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP (age 28)
With Dustin Pedroia's eight-year, $110 million contract coming off the books after next season, Rodriguez -- who is expected to be healthy for 2021 after his battle with COVID-19 and myocarditis -- could earn himself some money as a key part of the Red Sox’s rotation.
Yankees: Adam Ottavino, RHP (age 36)
Ottavino hasn’t quite turned out to be all the Yankees wanted, but he hasn’t been terrible. He never did strike out the Babe, though.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Indians: Francisco Lindor, SS (age 28)
Yeah, this is not a difficult one to figure out. The question is whether or not Lindor will become a free agent as a member of the Indians, or as someone who plays elsewhere.
Royals: Salvador Perez, C (age 31)
Sal feels like the sort of player who could be a Royal forever, but considering how much power he showed last year, he’ll very much be in demand.
Tigers: Daniel Norris, LHP (age 28)
Norris wasn’t half bad for Detroit last year, and he’ll only be 28 years old on Opening Day 2022.
Twins: Eddie Rosario, OF (age 30)
A clinically underappreciated player, Rosario has received MVP Award votes in both of the last two seasons.
White Sox: Nomar Mazara, OF (age 26)
He still may be non-tendered this offseason, but if he stays, the White Sox have one more year to try to squeeze out that initial potential that the Rangers never quite were able to.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels: Albert Pujols, 1B/DH (age 42)
Yep: Next year is finally the year.
A’s: Mark Canha, OF (age 33)
Canha's bat has been a huge help for a few years now, but Oakland is going to have to pay to keep him after next year as he'll be very much in demand.
Astros: Carlos Correa, SS (age 27)
There are some big ones in Houston, from Justin Verlander to Zack Greinke, but Correa will hit the market at a young enough age that he should be able to make a big impact.
Mariners: Kyle Seager, 3B (age 34)
Seager has a $15 million option for 2022 for the Mariners to pick up … or, potentially, for whichever team they trade him to.
Rangers: Lance Lynn, RHP (age 34)
As my colleague Mike Petriello pointed out, what the Rangers do with Lynn in the next calendar year is one of the most fascinating questions in the game.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Freddie Freeman, 1B (age 32)
Hey, look who’s a free agent next year: The reigning NL MVP Award winner. It’s tough to imagine the Braves letting Freeman leave … isn’t it?
Marlins: Starling Marte, OF (age 33)
The Marlins picked up Marte's option, but a big year for Miami could reestablish his market value.
Mets: Michael Conforto, OF (age 29)
Noah Syndergaard is the bigger name out of Flushing, but might Conforto end up being the more valuable free agent?
Phillies: Andrew McCutchen, OF (age 35)
Cutch has a $14.5 million option for 2022, and the season he has in '21 will make it obvious that it will be picked up … or obvious that it won’t.
Nationals: Max Scherzer, RHP (age 37)
Scherzer will turn 38 right before the Trade Deadline of the 2022 season. How eager will a team be to pay full price for that age-38 season?
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers: Avisaíl García, OF (age 30)
The Brewers would otherwise have to pick up a $12 million option for 2022. It seems like, in that particular offseason, there might be a lot of opportunities on the table there.
Cardinals: Carlos Martínez, RHP (age 30)
Carlos never quite became the Cy Young Award winner St. Louis imagined he would be, but there’s still plenty of pop in that arm, either in the rotation or in the bullpen.
Cubs: Javier Báez, SS (age 29)
Or Kris Bryant? Or Kyle Schwarber? Or Craig Kimbrel? President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer (aka Theo Epstein’s former deputy and now replacement) has a lot of work to do.
Pirates: Gregory Polanco, OF (age 30)
Polanco is basically the only guy left from that brief window of Pirates contention nearly a decade ago.
Reds: Raisel Iglesias, RHP (age 32)
It’ll be fascinating to see what the market for closers looks like next year, but Iglesias could be one of the top options on the market.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: Eduardo Escobar, 3B (age 33)
Always underappreciated, Escobar could be a complementary piece on a team that’s closer to contention than the D-backs are.
Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw, LHP (age 34)
Corey Seager, or even Kenley Jansen, could be an option here. But would Kershaw really ever leave the Dodgers?
Giants: Buster Posey, C (age 35)
The Giants are all but certain to turn down Posey's $22 million option for 2022, which means this year of tutoring Joey Bart could be the last go-round.
Padres: Tommy Pham, OF (age 34)
Pham, who will be 34 on Opening Day 2022, has been waiting forever to reach free agency. It’d do him good to have a great year right before he at last hits it.
Rockies: Trevor Story, SS (age 29)
Yeah … you’re going to be hearing plenty about Story’s status all season. To say the least.