Top 10 remaining MLB free agents: Updates and thoughts on where each player could sign

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Spring training camps are opening in Arizona and Florida and the remaining free agents should be making their decisions soon. On Tuesday, Jorge Soler was the latest name to come off the board, as he agreed to a three-year, $42 million contract with the Giants, according to a major-league source. All-Star caliber players such as Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, Cody Bellinger and Matt Chapman are still available, along with other quality major leaguers.

Let’s look at the top 10 remaining free agents and where they could land. Here are my thoughts on each player and the latest I’m hearing in conversations with decision-makers across baseball.

(WAR numbers are according to Baseball Reference; all stats are for the 2023 season unless otherwise noted.) 

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1. Blake Snell, LHP

Age: 31
2023 (Padres): WAR: 6.0
ERA: 2.25 IP: 180 SO: 234

The Yankees, Angels, Giants, Red Sox, Cubs, Phillies and Mariners have all been linked to Snell at points during the offseason, but he’s still unsigned as spring training gets underway. I think the Yankees ultimately land him — especially after the Orioles traded for Corbin Burnes, removing him as an option — unless they’re able to make a trade with the White Sox for Dylan Cease instead. Snell led the majors in ERA, ERA+ and walks last year en route to his second Cy Young Award. His curveball was again dominant (.079 batting average against) and his improved changeup was a difference-maker (.185 batting average against).

2. Jordan Montgomery, LHP

Age: 31
2023 (Rangers/Cardinals): WAR: 4.1
ERA: 3.20 IP: 188 2/3 SO: 166

Montgomery’s first choice is believed to be a return to the Rangers, but the club and his agent, Scott Boras, have been far apart in negotiations. Montgomery’s value skyrocketed after he was dealt to Texas at the trade deadline and showed, particularly in the postseason, that he can perform when it matters most. The Red Sox, Cubs, Giants and Yankees have engaged with Montgomery and could be in play if he doesn’t re-sign with the Rangers. The Phillies have also been linked to him.

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How long will Cody Bellinger remain unsigned? (Matt Dirksen / Getty Images)

3. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF

Age: 28
2023 (Cubs): WAR: 4.4
Slash line: .307/.356/.525
HR: 26 RBI: 97 SB: 20

Bellinger is the best-available position player on the free-agent market and because he is relatively young he’s been quite demanding in terms of years and dollars. His ability to play first base and all three outfield positions increases his value as well. The Cubs, Blue Jays and Angels seem to be the most likely destinations for Bellinger, who won the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award last season and finished 10th in the league MVP voting. His first choice appears to be re-signing with Chicago, but the staredown in negotiations between Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer and Bellinger’s agent, Boras, is shaping up to be epic. Hoyer has never been afraid to walk away from deals — just ask Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.

4. Matt Chapman, 3B

Age: 30
2023 (Blue Jays): WAR: 4.4
Slash line: .240/.330/.424
HR: 17 RBI: 54 OPS+: 108

The Blue Jays and Giants are the two teams that have shown the most interest in Chapman, who remains one of the best defensive third baseman of this era and won his fourth Gold Glove Award in 2023. He had 58 extra-base hits last year and played in 140 games, his fifth straight full season with at least that many. The Giants have the best shot of landing him at this point.

5. J.D. Martinez, DH

Age: 36
2023 (Dodgers): WAR: 1.9
Slash line: .271/.321/.572
HR: 33 RBI: 103 OPS+: 134

Martinez is the best DH left on the free-agent market. I thought the Diamondbacks were the best fit for him, but they pivoted to Joc Pederson when they weren’t able to get close to a deal with Martinez. Last season was the fifth time in his career he drove in 100 or more runs and the fifth time in six years he made an All-Star team. The Mets and Angels have been linked the most to Martinez of late. But I think the Marlins, who haven’t been active this offseason, should consider getting involved in his market at the buzzer. The Marlins need another bat and Martinez, a Miami native who resides in South Florida, would be a perfect fit for them, adding offense and leadership.

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Whit Merrifield is seeking a multiyear deal. (Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today)

6. Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF

Age: 35
2023 (Blue Jays): WAR: 0.7
Slash line: .272/.318/.382
HR: 11 RBI: 67 SB: 26

Merrifield, who made his third All-Star team last year, is trying to secure a multiyear contract and a job as an everyday player, but hasn’t found that gig yet. I’ve felt all offseason his best landing spot would be with Philadelphia, where he could be the “10th player,” filling it at second base and in left field, with the ability to also play some third base, center field, right field and DH. He would help protect the Phillies from injuries, like the minor knee issue that has sidelined left fielder Brandon Marsh at the start of spring training.

7. Mike Clevinger, RHP

Age: 33
2023 (White Sox): WAR: 3.3
ERA: 3.77 IP: 131 1/3 SO: 110

Clevinger made 24 starts last season for the White Sox and posted a 4.28 FIP, 118 ERA+ and 1.226 WHIP. He’s healthy and could help some contending teams as a back-of-the-rotation type who provides innings. I also see him as a solid fit with teams such as the Red Sox, Nationals, Pirates and Rockies.

8. Hyun Jin Ryu, LHP

Age: 36
2023: (Blue Jays) WAR: 0.4
ERA: 3.46 IP: 52 SO: 38

Ryu returned last season in early August from Tommy John surgery and impressed the rest of the way, making a total of 11 starts and allowing three runs or fewer in nine of them. He pitched five innings in six of those starts and a season-high six innings in one start. His fastball was mostly 87 to 89 mph. Opponents hit .276 against his changeup and .238 against his cutter. Ryu appears to be healthy but will have to accept a one-year deal because of the injury risk. He would be wise to sign with a non-contending team that could trade him at the deadline if he pitches in the first half like he did at the end of 2023. A team like the Pirates, Nationals or A’s might make sense. Or maybe a contending team that has multiple starters who are high injury risks, have age concerns or are trending downward could tap him for rotation depth; the Yankees, Brewers or Cardinals might fit in that vein.

9. Brandon Belt, 1B/DH

Age: 35
2023 (Blue Jays): WAR: 2.0
Slash line: .254/.369/.490
HR: 19 RBI: 43 OPS+: 136

Belt’s 136 OPS+ last season over 404 plate appearances shows that he can still contribute significantly as a role or platoon player coming off the bench. The Rangers have been the team most connected to him this offseason, but clubs like the Astros and Marlins could make sense as well. The Astros have a declining José Abreu at first base and their backup, Jon Singleton, is no sure thing. The Marlins have Josh Bell at first base but no legitimate backup, and Belt is a better defender than Bell and could be used late in games as a defensive upgrade.

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10. Michael Lorenzen, RHP

Age: 32
2023 (Phillies/Tigers): WAR: 2.0
ERA: 4.18 IP: 153 SO: 111

Lorenzen went 5-7 with a 3.58 ERA in 18 starts last season for the Tigers and made his first All-Star team. He was then traded to the Phillies and started strongly, tossing the 14th no-hitter in club history before his season went south. He finished with a 5.51 ERA in seven starts and four relief appearances with the Phillies. The Padres have been the team showing the most interest in Lorenzen, as they try to replace four key pitchers who departed this offseason via free agency or trade.

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(Top photo of Blake Snell: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images)





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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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