At least in terms of free-agent signings, this is the fastest-paced offseason Major League Baseball has seen over the past couple years. Of the 50 players MLBTR ranked as the premier free agents entering the winter, more than half (26) have already left the board in the month-plus since the market opened. That includes the handful of elite free agents (Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg and Zack Wheeler), the latest $100M-plus players in baseball. But now that they’re among the players who have found homes, who are the most appealing performers without deals? Let’s reorder the top 10 based on the rankings MLBTR put together coming into the offseason and see where they stand…
5. Josh Donaldson, 3B: With Rendon no longer available, Donaldson has taken over as hands down the most effective hitter on the market. The former Athletic, Blue Jay, Indian and Brave may well replace Rendon in Washington after posting his latest excellent season with division-rival Atlanta. Otherwise, anyone from a group of teams consisting of the Braves, Twins, Rangers, Phillies or Dodgers could end up with the 34-year-old.
8. Nicholas Castellanos, OF: Age (28 in March) and a quality offensive track record are on Castellanos’ side. Defensive prowess isn’t, on the other hand, but struggles in the field shouldn’t stop Castellanos from securing a multiyear contract worth a sizable sum. The Cubs, with whom he thrived late last season, as well as the Marlins, Rangers, Giants and Diamondbacks are among the clubs that have been connected to Castellanos in free agency.
9. Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP: With Cole, Strasburg, Wheeler and Madison Bumgarner no longer seeking employment, Ryu has assumed the mantle as the No. 1 pitcher without a contract. Ryu will turn 33 in March, and injuries have been problematic for him at times, yet there has been talk of a four-year contract worth at least $17M per season for the career-long Dodger. Deservedly so, as Ryu finished second in NL Cy Young voting last season.
11. Marcell Ozuna, OF: Between the Marlins and Cardinals, Ozuna owns a years-long track record of posting above-average overall production. But the 29-year-old is more a good player than a star, which is likely why he’s still seeking a contract after most of the truly elite position players have already vacated the board. And the fact that Ozuna has a qualifying offer weighing him down surely doesn’t help.
14. Dallas Keuchel, LHP: A qualifying offer was among the reasons Keuchel didn’t find a contract until last June, when he finally signed with the Braves on a one-year, $13M pact. The soon-to-be 32-year-old Keuchel didn’t have a banner season with the Braves, and there hasn’t been a ton of reported interest in him this winter, but the former AL Cy Young winner should do better this time with no QO hanging over his head.