Who's next? 7 key free agents and where they fit

December 16th, 2019

OK, who has next? Josh Donaldson? Dallas Keuchel? In the wake of some of the biggest names signing, this is where free agency gets really interesting.

Now two dynamics are at play. First, the teams that didn't land Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, etc., feel an increased urgency to fill those roster spots, especially now that some other big names off the board, such as Madison Bumgarner, who agreed to terms with the D-backs on Sunday.

Second, this next phase of free agency will differ from team to team in terms of evaluating talent. As Rangers general manager Jon Daniels put it, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

So let's check in on seven free agents now on the clock:

1) , 3B, age 34

There must have been times in 2017 and '18 when injuries surely prompted him to wonder if he'd ever get back to this point. All those hours of rehab work paid off in a 37-homer, 33-double season for the Braves, and with Rendon signed, Donaldson may be the most sought-after player on the market.

Logical landing spots: Braves, Nationals, Rangers

2) , SP, age 31

He is accomplished enough -- and still only 31 years old -- that he too should benefit from a great starting-pitching market. In 2019, he reminded every other pitcher about the importance of a normal spring and the routines that go with that. Teams will be hoping he'll rebound from a season in which he showed only flashes of being the same lefty that had a 3.28 ERA the previous five seasons.

Logical landing spots: Angels, Padres, Dodgers, Reds, Twins

3) , SP, age 32

His left shoulder held up just fine in 2019, and Ryu was ridiculously good for most of the season. His 2.21 ERA the last two seasons is the second-lowest among all MLB starters (Jacob deGrom had a 2.05 ERA). His 1.01 WHIP in 2018-19 was the eighth lowest. In a game that values velocity more than ever, Ryu has another way that works.

Logical landing spots: Dodgers, Angels, Padres

4) , OF, age 27

His market probably has been slowed by the focus on pitching. Now it should start to take shape. How about the Indians making a run? Castellanos had the best stretch of his career in 51 games for the Cubs (1.002 OPS), and whether that's an outlier or not, his last four seasons (mostly with the Tigers) are very solid.

Logical landing spots: Reds, Rangers, Giants, White Sox, Indians

5) , OF, age 29

He would prefer to return to the Cardinals, and that may be where he ends up if he agrees to a shorter-term deal. His power rebounded in 2019, and he got better defensively too. Some teams consider him the best free-agent outfielder in this market.

Logical landing spots: Cardinals, White Sox, Reds

6) , RP, age 35

He reworked his repertoire, throwing his curveball a career-high 42 percent of the time and had the best season of his career with a 1.50 ERA in 68 appearances. With the starting-pitching market thinning out, he'll be a high priority for teams looking to upgrade their bullpens.

Logical landing spots: Dodgers, Brewers, Mets, Astros, Rangers

7) , OF, age 28

He had a very solid season for the Rays in 2019 (25 doubles, 20 homers, 796 OPS), and at 28, García could be a smart signing for a team seeking offense. He may have to wait for teams to sort through their free-agent rankings, but he could be one of the smarter under-the-radar signings.

Logical landing spots: Indians, Rangers, Padres, Phillies