Wire Top 10: MLB free agents and predictions

By Chris Rysz, Opinion Editor

With the World Series in the rearview mirror, Major League Baseball teams look to the free agent market as they hope to improve their rosters for the upcoming season. For some teams, this winter will be quiet as 2020 will be a rebuilding year. However for others, this winter will be about acquiring the best pieces possible to contend and win in 2020. Listed below are my top 10 free agents along with predictions as to where they will sign. 

1: SP Gerrit Cole: Ever since the Astros acquired him before the 2018 season, Gerrit Cole has been a true ace. In the past three years, Cole has eclipsed 200 innings, and in the past two, Cole has pitched to a 2.68 ERA. In a career-best 2019, Cole’s upper 90s fastball and nasty slider led him to a league leading 326 strikeouts. For one local team, Cole may be the factor that leads them toward their 28th title. Prediction: Yankees

2: 3B Anthony Rendon: For years, Anthony Rendon’s value has been overlooked among fans, but his 2019 season continued to prove them wrong. Rendon’s .319 batting average, 1.010 OPS and MLB-leading 126 RBI clearly make Rendon the best hitter on the market. The Nationals have had Rendon his entire career and after losing Bryce Harper last offseason, they cannot lose another bat.  Prediction: Nationals

3: SP Stephen Strasburg:  After coming off a World Series MVP and a bounceback season, it appears to be the perfect time for the longtime National to opt out of his contract. The former number one Nationals draft pick pitched to a career best 251 strikeouts, a 3.32 ERA and pitched 200 innings for the first time since 2014. A surprise hometown team may rope Strasburg into another multi-year contract. Prediction: Padres

4: 3B Josh Donaldson: Former MVP Josh Donaldson had a solid bounceback year as he adjusted to the NL for the first time in his career. Donaldson slugged 37 homers, walked 100 times and finished the year with a very solid .900 OPS. The veteran should attract many contenders looking for a powerful bat in their lineup. Prediction: Brewers

5: SP Zack Wheeler: After some trouble staying healthy earlier in his career, Mets hurler Zack Wheeler pitched at a higher level the last two seasons. He finished 2019 with a 3.48 FIP and 195 strikeouts in 195.1 innings. Rotation help is necessary for one team to get the game’s best player back to the playoffs, and Wheeler should fit that bill. Prediction: Angels

6: C Yasmani Grandal: After betting on himself last offseason by taking a one year deal over a multiyear contract, it looks like that bet has paid off. Grandal has eclipsed 20+ homers for the past four seasons, and after having a solid 2018, this year was identical, but with a much higher on-base percentage. Competitive teams looking for a power-hitting catcher should certainly take notice of Grandal. SIGNED: White Sox

6: SP Madison Bumgarner: Even though Madison Bumgarner has been around the majors for 10 seasons and has won 3 World Series titles, it’s hard to believe he’s only 31. While 2017 and 2018 bought injury troubles to Mad-Bum, he pitched 207.2 innings and struck out 203 batters in the process this past year. Teams looking for a veteran with postseason success should be very interested in Bumgarner. Prediction: Phillies

7: SP Hyun-Jin Ryu: Even though Hyun-Jin Ryu was the NL Cy Young Runner Up, his health has been a concern throughout his career. However, in a mostly healthy 2019, Ryu finished with an MLB-leading 2.32 ERA and BB/9, as he only walked 24 batters in 182.2 innings. After getting knocked out of the NLDS, the Dodgers surely don’t want to lose talent that brought them to that point. Prediction: Dodgers

8: RP Will Smith: As the game becomes more bullpen-centered, the value of relief pitchers like Will Smith has only gone up. Smith posted 34 saves, a 2.76 ERA, and struck out 96 batters in just 65.1 innings last year. Many teams are looking for a shut-down reliever to have in the 8th or 9th innings, so options vary. SIGNED: Braves 

9: RF Nicholas Castellanos: After being traded from the Cubs to the Tigers, Castellanos had an extremely productive 2nd half with a .646 slugging percentage and a 1.002 OPS. After moving to RF at the beginning of 2018, his defense has improved slightly, but it can still be a concern. Teams looking for a solid, middle of the order bat will certainly take note of Castellanos. Prediction: Rangers

10: SP Jake Odorizzi: In the Twins’ overachieving 2019 season, Jake Odorizzi played an important role in the Twins rotation. Odorizzi has a track record of being healthy and reliable at the same time. In 2019, Odorizzi pitched his lowest career FIP at 3.36 and had a career high in SO/9 with 10.1. Teams looking for a steady third starter should be intrigued by Odorizzi. ACCEPTED QUALIFYING OFFER: Twins