Let's build a team from best remaining free agents

January 31st, 2024

January comes to its conclusion on Wednesday, meaning clubs around the Majors are putting the finishing touches on their rosters with Spring Training only a couple weeks away.

Yet despite more than $2.5 billion in free-agent spending around the league this winter, baseball’s free-agent market is still rolling along, loaded with enough talent to put together a contending team. Among the players still available are a former Most Valuable Player, a two-time Cy Young winner, a World Series champion starting pitcher and a Platinum Glove-winning third baseman.

Let’s take a look at the best player still available at every position (age listed is each player’s age on July 1, 2024).

C Gary Sánchez
Age: 31
Sánchez failed to catch on with either the Giants or Mets early in 2023, but the one-time phenom was rejuvenated after landing with the Padres in late May. He posted a .792 OPS with 19 home runs in 260 plate appearances, showing the power he displayed with the Yankees early in his career. Sánchez’s biggest impact may have come behind the plate, where he emerged as the personal catcher for Blake Snell, who posted a 1.29 ERA in their 18 games together. Perhaps Sánchez is waiting for Snell to sign, hoping for a reunion with his batterymate.
Potential fits: Angels, Red Sox

1B Brandon Belt
Age: 36
The first-base market has been among the slowest this offseason. Rhys Hoskins’ recent two-year, $34 million deal with the Brewers was the first and only significant contract handed out to a first baseman to this point. Belt posted a solid .859 OPS with 19 home runs in 103 games during his first season with the Blue Jays, but there’s a glut of similar players -- Carlos Santana, Garrett Cooper, Ji Man Choi and C.J. Cron, for instance -- who are still looking for jobs. Perhaps Belt’s lengthy history with Rangers manager Bruce Bochy could help him land with the defending World Series champs.
Potential fits: Rangers, Twins

2B Whit Merrifield 
Age: 35 
The three-time All-Star (2019, ’21, ’23) isn’t a lock to find himself a starting second-base job in the coming weeks. Given his positional versatility, however, the veteran could be a logical fit for a number of clubs. Merrifield has experience at all three outfield spots, along with limited time at the corner infield positions, offering a jack-of-all-trades type of player that every contender seems to value these days.
Potential fits: Phillies, White Sox

SS Tim Anderson
Age: 31
Anderson gets the slight edge here over Brandon Crawford based on his age: Anderson is entering his age-31 season as opposed to age-37 for Crawford. An All-Star in 2021 and ’22, Anderson struggled through a down season marred by injuries in 2023, posting a slash line of .245/.286/.296 with one home run and 25 RBIs in 123 games, likely putting him in position to sign a one-year deal to reestablish his value. Anderson has shown how valuable he can be in past years, so he should be motivated to find his old form.
Potential fits: Marlins, Rays

3B Matt Chapman 
Age: 31 
Chapman, the AL Platinum Glove winner in 2018 and ’19, remains one of the best defensive third basemen in the game. Although his offensive numbers slipped a bit in 2023, he has a track record as a power threat. He hit at least 27 homers in each of the three full seasons between 2019-22 and owns a 117 career OPS+. Justin Turner’s deal with the Blue Jays may have closed the door on a return to Toronto, but the Cubs remain a potential option for him as he seeks a new deal -- especially if Chicago doesn’t bring back Cody Bellinger.
Potential fits: Cubs, Giants

OF Cody Bellinger
Age: 28
Entering the offseason, Bellinger was widely considered to be the second-best hitter on the free-agent market behind Shohei Ohtani, yet the outfielder/first baseman remains unsigned. A reunion with the Cubs makes the most sense, so why hasn’t a deal gotten done? The 2019 NL MVP is said to be seeking a contract worth north of $200 million, but even after his bounce-back 2023 season, it might be difficult to land a deal of that magnitude given the apparent lack of serious bidders. Many had the Yankees pegged as a potential landing spot, but New York’s acquisition of Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo and Trent Grisham likely closed the door on that possibility.
Potential fits: Cubs, Giants

OF Jorge Soler 
Age: 32 
Soler played more games as a designated hitter than as an outfielder in 2023, but the slugger is capable of filling either role for his next team. He belted 36 home runs for the Marlins last season, rebounding from an injury-riddled 2022 campaign. In a market devoid of much meaningful power, Soler might just be the best such threat available.
Potential fits: D-backs, Red Sox

OF Adam Duvall 
Age: 35 
A former All-Star (2016) and Gold Glove winner (2021), Duvall was quite productive in 92 games for the Red Sox last season, belting 21 home runs with 58 RBIs and an .834 OPS. He can slot in at all three outfield positions and mashes right-handed pitching (.863 OPS last season). Having played in the postseason each year from 2019-21 – winning the World Series in the last of those years – Duvall would bring valuable October experience to go with his power bat.
Potential fits: Red Sox, Twins

DH J.D. Martinez
Age: 36
Like some others on this list, Martinez bounced back from a subpar 2022 (by his standards) to post big numbers in 2023, hitting 33 home runs with 103 RBIs and an .893 OPS in 113 games for the Dodgers. Los Angeles’ signing of Shohei Ohtani ended any hopes of a return to Hollywood for Martinez, who has been selected to the past five All-Star Games.
Potential fits: Angels, Mets

SP Blake Snell
Age: 31
Snell’s market hasn’t been as robust as you would expect for a two-time Cy Young Award winner, but the left-hander remains the best available option for clubs seeking a lift at the top of the rotation. Given that Yoshinobu Yamamoto signed a $325 million deal despite never throwing a pitch in the Majors, it’s understandable why Snell is holding out for a deal of his liking.
Potential fits: Angels, Giants

RP Jakob Junis 
Age: 31 
The relief market has come alive lately, with Josh Hader, Aroldis Chapman, Hector Neris, David Robertson, Robert Stephenson and Matt Moore all signing deals during the final 10 days of January. Fortunately for Junis and other available relievers, including Ryan Brasier and Ryne Stanek, plenty of teams are still looking to bolster their bullpens between now and the start of Spring Training.
Potential fits: Phillies, Yankees