Every team’s biggest FA after 2020 season
It’s easy to get caught up in this impending free agency season: After all, it has just gotten started. But it’s never too early to take a look at next year’s free agents. Have no doubt: Your team’s general manager certainly has.
So today, we take a look at the top player on each team who will be a free agent after the 2020 season. Some of these players will sign extensions, some will be traded this year and some will head into next November ready to hit the market. But they’re going to be players to watch, all year.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays -- Ken Giles, RHP: Very quietly, Giles returned to his dominance of a few years ago with a 1.87 ERA in 2019. With free agency looming, he’s an obvious trade candidate.
Orioles -- Jonathan Villar, 2B/SS: He played all 162 games last year and was a better-than-average hitter. Villar will hit the market before his 30th birthday.
Rays -- Mike Zunino, C: As usual, the Rays don’t let many players get up to their last year of free agency. (Not putting Charlie Morton here because he has a team-friendly option on his deal for 2021.)
Red Sox -- Mookie Betts, RF: His impending free agency might be the single-most destabilizing force in the baseball market this year.
Yankees -- Masahiro Tanaka, RHP: You can take your pick here, from Tanaka, DJ LeMahieu or James Paxton.
Indians -- Oliver Pérez, LHP: The Indians are likely to pick up the 2021 options on Carlos Santana, Corey Kluber and Brad Hand … or possibly trade them to a team that will.
Royals -- Ian Kennedy, RHP: That five-year, $70 million deal he signed before the 2016 season seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?
Tigers -- Jordan Zimmermann, RHP: This five-year, $110 million contract definitely did not pan out in the way Detroit had hoped. He has a 5.61 ERA with the Tigers in 96 games (95 starts).
Twins -- Nelson Cruz, DH: He may sign a series of one-or-two-year deals until he is 65.
White Sox -- Alex Colomé, RHP: He quietly posted a 2.80 ERA over 61 innings in 2019 and could be an attractive option next winter when he’ll be 31.
Angels -- Andrelton Simmons, SS: For all the big-money deals that will be coming off the Angels’ payroll in the next few years, this is one for a player they’ll seriously miss.
Astros -- George Springer, OF: A bunch of Astros have gotten extensions, but Springer isn’t one of them. He’ll be one of the top free agents next year.
Athletics -- Marcus Semien, SS: He finished third in AL MVP Award voting this year, and if he does that again in 2020, teams will be lining up for him.
Mariners -- Dee Gordon, 2B: It seems unlikely the Mariners will pick up his $14 million team option for 2021.
Rangers -- Shin-Soo Choo, RF: It has been quite a ride these last seven years, but Choo’s contract will finally expire at the end of the season.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves -- Mark Melancon, RHP: The Braves are certainly making sure they don’t run out of relievers anytime soon. As a result, this will likely be Melancon’s last year in Atlanta.
Marlins -- None: When the Marlins designated for assignment veteran lefty Wei-Yin Chen, whose 2021 option would have vested had he thrown 180 innings in 2020, it left them without a Major League free agent next year.
Mets -- Yoenis Céspedes, LF: How much Yoenis Glory in Flushing did injuries cost us? We’ll still never forget all those Spring Training cars. To be fair, Marcus Stroman is also a free agent next winter and -- barring a huge bounceback season from Céspedes in 2020 -- a more significant player at the moment, but Céspedes looms large over the entire franchise.
Nationals -- Sean Doolittle, LHP: The beloved reliever will be a little less high-profile a Nationals free agent than the ones the last two seasons.
Phillies -- J.T. Realmuto, C: Unless he agrees to an extension, it looks like the Phillies will have to figure out their catcher situation again.
Brewers -- Ryan Braun, LF: Will both sides pick up a mutual $15 million option? Can you imagine Braun actually playing for anyone else?
Cardinals -- Yadier Molina, C: The immortal catcher has made it clear he wants to play after 2020, and the Cardinals will probably let him do whatever he wants.
Cubs -- Jon Lester, LHP: The Cubs have a tricky option on Lester: $25 million to keep him, $10 million to buy him out. Could he retire anyway?
Pirates -- Keone Kela, RHP: New general manager Ben Cherington has a ton of work ahead of him, and he must figure out what to do with Starling Marte and Chris Archer, who both have club-friendly team options for 2021. Kela is their most notable “true” free agent.
Reds -- Trevor Bauer, RHP: Both Bauer and his new team are heavily incentivized to have a big 2020.
D-backs -- Robbie Ray, LHP. The D-backs have a ton of players hitting free agency next year, but the wildly fluctuating Ray might be the most fascinating one.
Dodgers -- Justin Turner, 3B: One of the Dodgers’ most beloved players, you wonder if next year will be his last chance to win a title in Dodger Blue … or if he’ll make sure to finish his career at Chavez Ravine.
Giants -- Jeff Samardzija, RHP: The year the Giants really lose a lot of their free agents will be after 2021, when Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford might all hit the market.
Padres -- Kirby Yates, RHP: One of the best closers in the Majors, the Padres will have to decide how much they value such a creature on a team with other holes to fill.
Rockies -- Wade Davis, RHP: A $1 million buyout will finish out the Wade Davis Era in Colorado and, suffice it to say, it hasn’t exactly turned out how Rockies fans had hoped.