Tha Sports Junkies 101

Key MLB Free Agents This Offseason

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With a new offseason comes new free agents

This offseason, there are not many big name free agents available. This years group is headlined by Yoenis Cespedes who will test free agency after opting out of his contract with the New York Mets. Other than Cespedes, the position player market is a little slim this offseason. Three closers are available this winter and it should be interesting to see where they land. We will break down the top MLB free agents this year and discuss what they could bring to their next possible team.

Yoenis Cespedes

As mentioned above, Yoenis Cespedes headlines this years free agent market. Cespedes is a 31-year old outfielder who decided to test free agency by opting out of the remainder of his contract with the Mets. In 2016, Cespedes appeared in 132 games and hit 31 home runs and drove in 86 runs. His WAR is down from 6.3 in 2015 to just 2.9 this season. The slugger has a good arm in the outfield making him worthy of big money this offseason. One thing to be on the lookout for is his age. At 31, teams should second guess signing the Cuban to a long-term deal that would take him near age 40. Look for the Mets to possibly re-sign Cespedes. If not the Mets, look for a team desperate for outfield offensive production to sign Cespedes to a big money deal.

Aroldis Chapman

Coming off a World Series Championship, Aroldis Chapman should command big interest this offseason. With a fastball easily touching 100 MPH, he is a lock down closer that loves pitching the 9th and only the 9th. He had a great 2016 season after beginning the year serving a 30 game suspension for a domestic violence violation. Even after serving the suspension, Chapman still appeared in 59 games between the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs. In those appearances, he worked 58 innings and had an ERA of 1.55. He also recorded 36 saves and struck out 90 batters compared to just 18 walks. It is unlikely that the Cubs will re-sign Chapman even after his outstanding play in 2016. Expect most of the MLB to be after Chapman this offseason, with the deepest pockets untimely winning the sweepstakes.

Edwin Encarnacion

With the Toronto Blue Jays prepared to extend the qualifying offer to Edwin Encarnacion, it does not look like the two sides will come together on a deal. Encarnacion turns 34 in January but has a lot left in the tank as a DH. In 2016, Edwin appeared in 160 games and hit .263 with 42 home runs and 127 RBI’s. Expect Encarnacion to stick with an AL team as he is a lot better with the bat than the glove. He can play first base if needed, but most teams will want him for his powerful bat. A return to the Blue Jays is not out of the question but it is not likely either. Expect to see Encarnacion wearing a different uniform come April.

Kenley Jansen

At 29-years old, Kenley Jansen may be the best closer in the game of baseball. He recorded 47 saves for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season and stepped up when called upon in the postseason. His 104 strikeouts compared to just 11 walks in 2016 show that Jansen is a very effective and reliable option in the late innings of games. Jansen made his first All-Star team this season and should continue to be one of the top closers in baseball for the next few years. The market for Jansen will probably depend on what kind of money Chapman gets this offseason. While Jansen can not throw 100+ MPH, he can still blow hitters away with 95+. Chapman should sign first this offseason but look for Jansen to not be far behind with his shutdown abilities out of the pen.

Mark Melancon

Even though he is a little older than Chapman and Jansen, Mark Melancon still knows how to get it done in the major leagues. Between the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates in 2016, Melancon recorded 47 saves with a 1.64 ERA. Just like with Jansen, the money market for Melancon will hinge on the amount Chapman gets paid. With a big need for shutdown arms out of the bullpen, expect Melancon to move quickly this offseason. If the Dodgers can not re-sign Jansen, they may consider bringing in a possibly cheaper Melancon. Never rule out the Nationals who also would like to re-sign Melancon after he had a good 2016 season.

Rich Hill

Rich Hill will be 37-years old in March but had an outstanding 2016 season. He split time between the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers. Hill did struggle with blister issues during the season which limited him to just 20 starts. In those starts, he recorded a 2.12 ERA with 129 strikeouts and 33 walks. Teams need to be leery of Hill’s health and age. If he can remain healthy, there is no doubt that Hill will benefit a team in 2017. If this blister issue becomes a more serious problem, Hill’s days in the big leagues could be numbered. Expect to see Hill command some big money as the starting pitching market this offseason is really bare.

Dexter Fowler

Dexter Fowler proved in 2016 that he may be entering the prime of his career at age 30. In 2016, he hit 13 home runs and drove in 48 runs for the Chicago Cubs out of the leadoff spot. He patrolled center field for the Cubs and came up clutch with 18 postseason hits with three of those leaving the yard. Fowler saw his WAR jump from 2.2 in 2015 to 4.3 in 2016. He did miss time with a hamstring injury in the middle of the season but showed no signs of injury after his return. Fowler has not ruled out returning to Chicago in 2017, but he has opted out of his contract which means anything could happen this offseason. Expect to see the Baltimore Orioles come after Fowler after they almost signed him last offseason.

Carlos Beltran

Entering his age 40 season, Carlos Beltran may want to stick to the American League. In 2016, Beltran split time with the Yankees and Texas Rangers. He appeared in 151 games and clubbed 29 home runs to go along with his 93 RBI’s. His 2.0 WAR in 2016 was the highest it had been since 2013 while he was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. Beltran has been plagued with injuries lately but proved in 2016 that he can still swing the stick. As mentioned before, expect Beltran to stick with the AL since he is getting up in age and may become a defensive liability. There are still teams out there who could use Beltran’s power. Maybe the Yankees bring him back solely as a DH.


While these are not the only free agents this offseason, these are the names that should command the most attention this winter. It should be an interesting offseason as teams try to position themselves to be postseason threats.