The 5 tiers that divide this year's free-agent class

November 26th, 2022

Just as he did for most of the season, Aaron Judge will dominate the headlines as he decides on his baseball future. Judge tops a loaded free-agent class that includes a trio of legendary pitchers, a number of premier shortstops and a whole lot of talent overall.

Below is a list of 70 available players and where they rank in the hierarchy of this year’s free-agent crop. Players are listed alphabetically by tier, and ages are listed as of Opening Day 2023.

Tier 1

, RHP, age 34: Despite making just 11 starts in 2022, the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner opted out of the final year of his contract, giving him a chance to cash in à la Max Scherzer. Plenty of teams will line up for the chance to bring him in, but will his recent injury history have a major impact on a deal?

, OF, age 30: Judge’s preseason bet on himself should pay off handsomely; he turned down the Yankees’ seven-year, $213.5 million contract extension offer in April, then went out and belted a new American League record 62 home runs, winning his first AL Most Valuable Player Award. Entering his age-31 season, the only real question is whether he’ll land an eight- or nine-year (or even 10-year?) deal.

, SS, age 29: Turner had a strong platform year, scoring 101 runs while driving in 100 more. His OPS dipped to .809 after he averaged .900 from 2019-2021, but that shouldn’t prevent him from joining the exclusive $300 million club.

, RHP, age 40: Tommy John surgery cost Verlander all but one start in 2020-2021, leading some to wonder how he would respond at the age of 39. All he did was lead the AL with 18 wins and a 1.75 ERA, throwing 175 brilliant innings for the World Series champion Astros en route to his third career Cy Young Award. Verlander opted out of his $25 million option for 2023, likely with an eye toward a Scherzer-esque deal.

Tier 2

, RHP, age 34: After pitching in relative obscurity in Oakland, Bassitt had a strong year with the Mets, posting a 3.42 ERA in a career-high 181 2/3 innings. Since the start of 2018 (when he returned from Tommy John surgery), Bassitt has a 3.29 ERA, delivering five solid seasons.

, SS, age 30: Bogaerts opted out of the final three years and $60 million of his deal, thrusting him into an already strong shortstop market. Bogaerts was an All-Star in 2022, hitting .307 with an .833 OPS, though his power was down (15 home runs).

, SS, age 28: Correa’s three-year, $105.3 million deal last winter allowed him to opt out, which he did after posting a good (but not great) season for the Twins. For the second year in a row, Correa finds himself part of a strong shortstop class; will he find the type of deal that eluded him last offseason?

, CF, age 30: Nimmo does everything well, making him a player that can help almost any contender. He has a speed-power combination and strong on-base skills to go along with solid defense in center field.

, LHP, age 30: Rodón cashed in with a two-year, $44 million deal last winter with the Giants, which included an opt-out clause if he topped 110 innings in 2022. Well, he threw 178 innings, posted a 2.88 ERA and made his second straight All-Star team, setting him up for a much bigger deal this time around.

, SS, age 29: A strong defender (league-best 20 Outs Above Average) who made his first All-Star team in 2022, Swanson has established himself as a solid offensive contributor over the past three years. He’s also one of the game’s most durable players, playing in 382 of a possible 384 games since the start of 2020.

Tier 3

José Abreu, 1B/DH, age 36: His 15-homer season suggests he might not be the same threat he once was, but Abreu can still do damage at the plate, hitting 40 doubles while posting an .824 OPS. Still an everyday first baseman, he could also transition to DH at some point.

, 1B, age 30: Bell has been a reliable power threat over the past few years, though his two-month stint in San Diego went poorly (three homers, .587 OPS in 53 games). He should land in the middle of someone’s lineup.

, LF, age 28: Benintendi’s run with the Yankees after the Trade Deadline didn’t go as well as expected, but his first four months with the Royals -- he hit .320 with a .387 on-base percentage while playing good defense in left field -- should draw the interest of several teams.

, RHP, age 32: Clevinger’s return from Tommy John surgery was rocky at times, but the right-hander showed enough flashes of his old self to believe he will be better in 2023. Prior to the injury, Clevinger was among the best in the game, posting a 2.96 ERA from 2017-2020.

, C, age 30: Contreras remains one of the better bats at the catching position (22 home runs, .815 OPS in 2022), but his defense is considered average at best. He’s still the best catcher on the market, so he should draw significant interest.

, RHP, age 33: Eovaldi made 32 starts in 2021, earning his first All-Star selection. He was limited to 20 starts and 109 1/3 innings in ‘22 thanks to a pair of stints on the injured list. He has been a consistent mid-rotation piece over the past three seasons, posting ERAs between 3.72 and 3.87 each year.

, RF, age 32: Injuries have been a big problem for Haniger, who has exceeded 96 games in a season just twice in his six seasons. When he played in 2022, he produced, slugging 11 home runs in 57 games.

, RHP, age 35: After opening his career with eight straight seasons of a sub-3.00 ERA, Jansen has done that only once in the past five years. Still, he led the NL with 41 saves in 2022 and remains a reliable closing option.

, LHP, age 34: Quintana pitched well for the Pirates (3.50 ERA in 20 starts), but he thrived after being traded to the Cardinals, for whom he posted a 2.01 ERA in 12 starts. It was his best season since his All-Star campaign in 2016, leaving potential suitors to decide which pitcher they’ll be getting.

, RHP, age 31: Taillon had his best season since 2018, matching a career high with 14 wins while posting a 3.91 ERA. The righty also threw 177 1/3 innings, the second-highest total of his career.

, RHP, age 30: Walker made the All-Star team in 2021, then suffered through a dreadful second half. The right-hander bounced back with a strong 2022, going 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts.

Tier 4

Michael Brantley, OF/DH, age 35

Matt Carpenter, INF/OF/DH, age 37

Aroldis Chapman, LHP, age 35

Michael Conforto, OF, age 30

Johnny Cueto, RHP, age 37

Zach Davies, RHP, age 30

Brandon Drury, INF, age 30

Zach Eflin, RHP, age 28

Adam Frazier, INF/OF, age 31

Joey Gallo, OF, age 29

Kyle Gibson, RHP, age 35

Brad Hand, LHP, age 33

Andrew Heaney, LHP, age 31

Luke Jackson, RHP, age 31

Corey Kluber, RHP, age 36

Seth Lugo, RHP, age 33

Jordan Lyles, RHP, age 32

Sean Manaea, LHP, age 31

Trey Mancini, 1B/OF, age 31

J.D. Martinez, OF/DH, age 35

Matt Moore, LHP, age 33

Adam Ottavino, RHP, age 37

Tommy Pham, OF, age 35

Jurickson Profar, OF, age 30

Taylor Rogers, LHP, age 32

David Robertson, RHP, age 37

Jean Segura, 2B, age 33

Ross Stripling, RHP, age 33

Noah Syndergaard, RHP, age 30

Justin Turner, 3B/DH, age 38

Christian Vázquez, C, age 32

Michael Wacha, RHP, age 31

Tier 5

Jesús Aguilar, 1B/DH, age 32

Brandon Belt, 1B, age 34

Zack Britton, LHP, age 35

Dylan Bundy, RHP, age 30

Andrew Chafin, LHP, age 32

Nelson Cruz, DH, age 42

Aledmys Díaz, INF/OF, age 32

Adam Duvall, OF, age 34

Carlos Estévez, RHP, age 30

Chad Green, RHP, age 31

Zack Greinke, RHP, age 39

Yuli Gurriel, 1B, age 38

Josh Harrison, INF/OF, age 35

José Iglesias, SS, age 33

Kevin Kiermaier, CF, age 32

Craig Kimbrel, RHP, age 34

Corey Knebel, RHP, age 31

Michael Lorenzen, RHP, age 31

Chris Martin, RHP, age 36

Andrew McCutchen, OF, age 36

Wade Miley, LHP, age 36

Wil Myers, OF, age 32

David Peralta, OF, age 35

Wily Peralta, RHP, age 33

Jace Peterson, INF/OF, age 32

David Phelps, RHP, age 36

Michael Pineda, RHP, age 34

Gary Sánchez, C, age 30

Miguel Sanó, 1B/3B/DH, age 29

Carlos Santana, 1B, age 36

Drew Smyly, LHP, age 33

Trevor Williams, RHP, age 30