With trade season in the past, we can now look forward to two wonderful baseball things: the postseason and the Hot Stove. The fun thing about the Hot Stove is that, unlike the postseason, everyone gets to be involved. Whether your team won the World Series or finished 50-plus games out of first place, you're a part of the Hot Stove. The offseason is for everyone.
This week, we take a look at the top pending free agent for every team heading into this offseason. Some of these players will re-sign with their old team, some of them will be the object of bidding wars, but all of them have a decision to make. As do their former employers.
For the sake of discussion here, we are counting players who have an option to opt out of their contract, if we consider them more likely to do so than not.
American League East
Estrada is having the worst year of his career, and has particularly struggled since June -- though lingering back soreness might have a little bit to do with that. He was an All-Star only two years ago.
He obviously loves it in Baltimore, but it might get a little ugly there the next few years. He still has plenty to offer a competitive team.
Gomez has had his worst season since his Twins days, but someone will surely give him a shot as a fourth outfielder.
He has talked about how much he'd like to return to the Red Sox. But considering how good he has been, once again, they'll have to pay for the privilege.
McCutchen will be one of the most fascinating free-agency cases this offseason. He could make himself some money with a big postseason.
Considering the Royals' devotion to Escobar over the years, they might as well sign him for five more seasons at this point.
His massive contract is finally expiring. But by all accounts, he and the team look like they'd be happy to see him back next year.
Though Shields hasn't been that bad this year, it's difficult to see the White Sox picking up his $16 million option.
He's still hanging around, and is still a pretty effective relief pitcher. The other major free agent, Garrett Richards, had Tommy John surgery and won't be back until 2020.
The former AL Cy Young Award winner will be one of the more fascinating names on the market this summer (as will his teammate, Charlie Morton).
The A's would surely be happy to bring him back on another one-year contract, but someone else might be willing to go longer at this point.
Thirty-eight years old or not, every team could use a guy who hits at least 35 homers every year.
The future Hall of Famer has said he wants to return to Texas in 2019, but he'll have suitors out there.
National League East
He picked an excellent time to have the best season of an already excellent career.
Seriously. Now that they traded Brad Ziegler at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Marlins have no pending free agents -- though that could change when the 40-man roster gets tighter this offseason. But this is a good thing. The Marlins are laying a foundation.
He has been a handy player since he came over from the Reds, rebuilding his value enough that he might get a nice deal this offseason.
You might have heard a little bit about his pending free agency.
It's up in the air whether or not the Brewers will pick up his $10 million option this offseason. He's just off the disabled list, and it's not like the Brewers don't have plenty of bullpen options. (You could also say Mike Moustakas for this, but given the premium teams are putting on their bullpen these days -- and the fact that Moose struggled to get a multiyear deal last year -- Soria could end up being more in demand.)
Every hit he gives the Cubs makes him a little more money this offseason.
Mercer feels like he has played for the Pirates since Sid Bream, but it has actually only been since 2012.
One of the teams that could probably use him the most is … Cincinnati.
The D-backs have a ton of pending free agents, but none have been as critical to the team's success -- and will be as desired by other teams -- as Pollock.
Clayton Kershaw andManny Machado
There's no way we could pick just one of these two -- though Kershaw is no guarantee to actually hit the market. The Dodgers ace can opt out of the final two years and $65 million on his contract this winter. Kershaw can also do what CC Sabathia and the Yankees did in 2011, and renegotiate the contract in lieu of an opt-out.
It has been another lost season for Pence. But if he can get healthy in the offseason, he might be worth a one-year flyer.
Galvis hasn't missed a game since 2016, for what it's worth.
How much teams factor in Coors Field in their evaluations of LeMahieu -- and he actually has a higher slugging percentage on the road this year than in Denver -- will determine where, and for how much, he'll spend the next few years of his career.