Roughly 200 free agents remain unsigned two months after the Red Sox celebrated the final out of the World Series, meaning there's plenty to be determined before next year's outlook comes into focus. Some of last season's biggest contributors including Lorenzo Cain and J.D. Martinez signed after New Year's Day,
Roughly 200 free agents remain unsigned two months after the Red Sox celebrated the final out of the World Series, meaning there's plenty to be determined before next year's outlook comes into focus. Some of last season's biggest contributors including Lorenzo Cain and J.D. Martinez signed after New Year's Day, and plenty of marquee names remain available again as the calendar flips to 2019.
As baseball turns the page on this year, here's a rundown of 15 of the top remaining free agents still looking for a team, in order of their Steamerwins above replacement (WAR) projections via Fangraphs.
1. Manny Machado, SS
2019 projection: .288/.356/.529, 33 HR, 5.2 fWAR
A 26-year-old who excels at two premium positions in the infield and makes more hard contact than anyone in the game, Machado remains the complete package -- regardless of his perceived effort issues. He'll wait until at least January to pick his new team, per reports, and his record-contract request has narrowed down the field to the Phillies, Yankees and White Sox -- for now.
2. Bryce Harper, RF
2019 projection: .267/.399/.528, 35 HR, 4.9 fWAR
Harper also seeks a record-breaking deal, which might inspire the Dodgers and Cubs to get creative in the coming weeks to clear payroll space. Meanwhile, the Phillies remain very much in the mix and the Yankees can't be counted out despite general manager Brian Cashman's comments that his club doesn't have room in its outfield. Harper still posted a .393 OBP and contributed 3.5 fWAR in what was considered a down year by many.
3. Yasmani Grandal, C
2019 projection: .237/.343/.444, 22 HR, 3.5 fWAR
Grandal's market has taken a hit after the Nationals signed Kurt Suzuki, the Mets signed Wilson Ramos and the Angels signed Jonathan Lucroy. But his elite framing skills and slugging (24 homers, .466 slugging in 2018) still makes Grandal one of the best all-around catchers in the game. The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday that Grandal rejected a four-year, $60 million offer from the Mets, and it might be tough for him to find that kind of offer again.
4. Dallas Keuchel, LHP
2019 projection: 13-10, 3.68 ERA, 196 IP, 3.2 fWAR
The Reds have been linked to this ground-ball specialist all offseason, but they addressed their rotation needs elsewhere by acquiring Tanner Roark and Alex Wood. They still can't be ruled out for Keuchel, and the Phillies are thought to be interested -- though they reportedly balked at going to a fifth year with the left-hander. The Angels, who signed starters Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey, might also pass on Keuchel to remain under the competitive balance tax (CBT).
5. A.J. Pollock, CF
2019 projection: .259/.326/.445, 22 HR, 3.1 fWAR
Pollock's asking price remains sky-high as MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported earlier this month that he is seeking a six-year deal. That might be tough to find given Pollock's injury history (he's logged just one season with 500 plate appearances) but he does pair elite center-field defense with a potent bat when he's on the field.
6. Mike Moustakas, 3B
2019 projection: .256/.317/.474, 31 HR, 2.8 fWAR
Moustakas hopes to fare better this offseason than last spring, when he didn't sign with the Royals until mid-March. He won't be hampered by the qualifying offer, but Eduardo Escobar's three-year, $21 million deal with the D-backs might force Moustakas to lower his asking price. The third baseman still offers a rare combination of power and above-average contact ability.
7. DJ LeMahieu, 2B
2019 projection: .273/.336/.390, 11 HR, 2.5 fWAR
There's a lot to like with LeMahieu, a former batting champion who just compiled the second-most defensive runs saved at his position while also putting the seventh-most hard-hit balls in play. LeMahieu's .277 OBP away from Coors Field last year might scare teams away, but the 30-year-old could still be a two-win player for several more years.
8. Jed Lowrie, 2B
2019 projection: .254/.335/.407, 17 HR, 2.3 fWAR
A line-drive hitter who makes above-average contact, Lowrie proved more durable over the last two seasons than his previous history. He's coming off a career year, but he might have trouble finding a long-term deal as he enters his age-35 season. The A's might be moving on after trading for Jurickson Profar, but the Nationals and Brewers have reportedly checked in with Lowrie over the past week.
9. Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
2019 projection: .264/.323/.436, 16 HR, 2.0 fWAR
Cabrera might not be as rangy as he used to be, but he can still play multiple positions while bringing a steady bat to the plate. He's a likely candidate for a short-term deal as he enters his age-33 season.
10. Marwin Gonzalez, UTIL
2019 projection: .260/.327/.428, 17 HR, 1.6 fWAR
Gonzalez's ultra-positional versatility makes him an ideal player for the current baseball climate, and he might be nearing his prime after posting one of the game's highest hard-hit rates after the All-Star Game.
11. Craig Kimbrel, RHP
2019 projection: 2.79 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 1.4 fWAR
There's no denying Kimbrel's stuff as he routinely ranks among the league leaders in whiff-per-swing rate. But Kimbrel's command issues in the postseason, combined with his reported asking price of roughly five years and $80 million, could make the rest of the winter a wait-and-see period for the most established free-agent reliever.
12. Nick Markakis, RF
2019 projection: .271/.349/.400, 12 HR, 1.2 fWAR
Markakis picked a good time to have one of the best seasons of his career as he earned his first All-Star nod and recorded MLB's second-most hard-hit balls in play behind Machado. That power doesn't really align with the rest of his career, but he likely remains a high on-base hitter even if his slugging wanes moving forward.
13. Player Page for David Robertson, RHP
2019 projection: 3.32 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 0.8 fWAR
Robertson, who is representing himself on the market this offseason, is one of the most consistent relievers in the game and is reportedly seeking a similar deal to Andrew Miller's two-year, $25 million deal with the Cardinals. The Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies and Angels have all been linked to the right-hander.
14. Zach Britton, LHP
2019 projection: 3.01 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 0.5 fWAR
Few pitchers in baseball rely on one pitch as much as Britton does on his sinker, but it happens to be a pretty good pitch. Britton's velocity came back over the second half of 2018, meaning his elite ground-ball rate did too.
15. Adam Ottavino, RHP
2019 projection: 3.63 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 0.5 fWAR
Ottavino might have as much raw talent as any reliever on the market, and his retooled cutter-slider combo was a nightmare for hitters in 2018. He strikes out a ton of batters and is extremely difficult to square up if opponents are able to make contact, and so Ottavino might end up taking home a bigger payday than some of the more established relievers on this list.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.