At the dawn of this offseason, we took a shot at predicting where some major free agents would land. Now that the offseason is in its twilight, there are still several big names still out there on the market.
So we revisited this exercise and had 43 MLB.com staff members weigh in on where they think six top free agents will be on Opening Day:
Cody Bellinger: Cubs
The Cubs were the overwhelming favorite here, with 39 of the 43 ballots cast naming the North Side as Bellinger’s destination for the second straight year. It just makes a lot of sense for both sides -- Bellinger enjoyed a rejuvenation at the plate with Chicago following three consecutive down years that had many wondering if his best was behind him, and the Cubs' Bellinger-shaped vacancy in center field and at first base remains.
Bellinger was named National League Comeback Player of the Year after hitting .307/.356/.525 with 26 home runs and 20 steals in 130 games last season. The 2019 NL MVP helped the Cubs make a surprise run at the postseason, ultimately falling short of a Wild Card berth by one game.
A reunion between Bellinger and the Cubs could bolster their confidence that a surprising 2023 performance was just a prelude to bigger things ahead.
Other teams receiving votes: Blue Jays, Giants, Twins
Matt Chapman: Giants
This is another match that seems to make too much sense not to happen. The Giants could use a third baseman and Chapman’s former manager across the Bay in Oakland, Bob Melvin, is now at the helm in San Francisco.
The Giants are also trying to head into the 2024 campaign with more major additions to a 79-83 club than center fielder Jung Hoo Lee, left-hander Robbie Ray and right-hander Jordan Hicks. With so many free-agent misses over the past couple of offseasons, a strong finish to this one would be an important way to go into the new season.
For Chapman, it would be a chance to reset. After posting an .839 OPS with 84 home runs over his first four Major League seasons, the elite defensive third baseman has seen his offensive production decline since then -- from 2021-23, his OPS was nearly 100 points lower (.743).
Other teams receiving votes: Blue Jays, Cubs, Mariners, Yankees, Marlins, White Sox
Blake Snell: Angels
There was a much wider spread among the votes here, with Snell’s destination becoming tougher to project by the day. The Giants and Yankees were also popular choices. But our voters see Anaheim as the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner’s next home.
For the Angels, starting pitching has been an issue for several years. Despite having Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout on the roster together for six seasons, injuries and rotation woes have extended the Halos' postseason drought to nine years. And in the wake of Ohtani's move up the freeway to the Dodgers, the Angels have yet to make a big splash this offseason.
Enter Snell, who certainly meets both objectives after a season in which he led the Majors with a 2.25 ERA and 182 ERA+.
Other teams receiving votes: Giants, Yankees, Phillies, Blue Jays, Mariners, Mets, Brewers, Orioles
Jordan Montgomery: Rangers
Montgomery helped the Rangers win their first World Series title in franchise history last fall following a trade that sent him to Arlington from St. Louis. The Rangers won’t be at full strength with their starting rotation until midseason, when Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer hope to return following elbow and back surgery, respectively.
It all points to one outcome that seems most likely: a Montgomery-Rangers reunion. And why not? The veteran left-hander posted a 2.79 ERA over 11 starts down the stretch for Texas and then had a 1.29 ERA over three appearances (two starts) against the in-state rival Astros during the American League Championship Series.
Other teams receiving votes: Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Cardinals, Padres, Phillies, Reds
J.D. Martinez: Mets
With the Mets looking to be a postseason contender while building for the future after being a seller at last year’s Trade Deadline, Martinez could fit that dynamic nicely if the price is right for New York.
Currently, the Mets likely have Mark Vientos, Starling Marte and DJ Stewart slated as a designated hitter combination for 2024. But if Martinez is gettable at a price New York is willing to pay, he’d be an attractive option -- although he’s entering his age-36 campaign, he’s coming off a season in which he belted 33 homers with an .893 OPS for the Dodgers.
Other teams receiving votes: Angels, Marlins, Red Sox, Twins, D-backs, Guardians, Cubs, Nationals, Padres, Tigers
Jorge Soler: Giants
Like Martinez, Soler could have many potential suitors as the other power-hitting DH on the market. But the Giants could be the club in most need of his services. San Francisco hasn’t had a 30-plus-homer season from a hitter in 20 years, and with Lee being the only significant offensive upgrade made so far, the Giants need some pop in the lineup.
Soler was an All-Star for the first time last year, launching 36 home runs and slugging .512 for the Marlins. While Oracle Park isn’t the most hitter-friendly venue, Soler power could very well break that dubious streak and give the Giants some thunder in the middle of the lineup to support what should be a strong starting rotation at the top.
Other teams receiving votes: Red Sox, Mets, Marlins, Blue Jays, Tigers, Padres, Angels, Mariners, Twins, Pirates, Guardians