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MLB free agent predictions: Landing spots for top 20 players, with Yankees signing Correa; Bryant to the Mets

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Major League Baseball’s offseason is officially underway, with free agents able to sign wherever they please. Some players, like left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney, have already found new homes; others are certain to follow between now and Dec. 1, before the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. The owners are expected to lock out the players at that point, bringing the offseason to a halt.

Even so, we’re going about our normal winter business, including running articles like this one, wherein we predict the landing spots of the top 20 free agents. (You can check out our full rankings of the top 50 free agents here.) As with psychic readings in the lovely state of New Jersey, we are legally obligated to note that these predictions are only for entertainment purposes. 

With that out of the way, let us process.

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Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has declared that he has the payroll “latitude” to make additions. What, precisely, that entails is to be seen. Correa makes a lot of sense for the Yankees: he can provide them better defense at the shortstop position, and he would give their lineup another impact-level bat. The Yankees have already signed one former Astro to a massive contract, in Gerrit Cole, suggesting New York’s front office is unlikely to worry too much about the sign-stealing scandal.

The Cubs have been signaling, both publicly and privately, that they intend to spend money this winter. Seager would provide a face to their new-look roster while also giving their lineup a much-needed boost. That Seager may have to eventually slide off shortstop seems like less of a problem for a team in transition than it was for, say, the Dodgers.

Bryant’s defensive versatility makes him a fit for several teams. We’re going with the Mets here because they could use another potent bat. Plus, it would be cool to see Bryant play next to Francisco Lindor.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has boxed himself in on which top free agents he can pursue without breaking public promises. Semien, who leads the majors in position-player Wins Above Replacement since 2019, would still seem to fit. 

It would be shocking if the Braves allowed Freeman to walk right after they won their first World Series in more than two decades. We think they’ll figure it out.

Since we have Semien heading elsewhere, we’ll keep Ray in Toronto. The Blue Jays certainly have the means to reward his excellent season with a longer, more lucrative contract than the one-year deal worth $8 million they gave him last winter.

Scherzer reportedly had a preference for the west coast at the trade deadline. Should that remain true, then he might end up picking between the three National League West foes. The Giants are losing most of their rotation to free agency, meaning they might be more motivated than the Dodgers or Padres to make a deal.

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The Angels are perpetually on the hunt for rotation help. Gausman has emerged as a top-of-the-rotation starter the past couple seasons. General manager Perry Minasian is also familiar with Gausman from their shared days with the Braves organization. 

The Mariners have numerous good young pitchers either nearing or at the big-league level. Stroman would give them another above-average arm, this time attached to a veteran, to slot in near the front of their rotation.

If the Tigers are going to push closer to contention, they could stand to add someone like Marte. He’s the top outfielder on the market, and he would give them a boost at the top of the lineup. With Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene nearing The Show, it only makes sense that Detroit starts adding above-average veterans.

The Rangers need some offensive help. Story would provide that. He could come at a lower cost, too, given concerns about his position (or, more accurately, his arm strength) and his home-road splits. The Rangers should be able to stomach the risk.

With Semien heading elsewhere, Toronto could use another middle infielder. Taylor would give the Blue Jays a versatile defender and an above-average hitter. He’s likely to be a popular target for teams seeking their own Enrique Hernández.

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No. 13 Javier Báez, INF: Phillies

The first of two consecutive Phillies predictions, Báez would give Philadelphia an immediate overall upgrade at the shortstop position. And, if Didi Gregorius were to show signs of life, or if Bryson Stott can make a quick ascent to the majors, then Báez can slide to third, taking advantage of his big arm and defensive versatility. 

Finding a spot for Castellanos is a little more challenging than it seems. He’s a heck of a hitter, but not every team will value him highly because of his defensive limitations. The Phillies could use another stick, and he’s a certain upgrade over their left fielders.

No. 15 Seiya Suzuki, OF: Rangers

Suzuki, a five-time All-Star in Nippon Professional Baseball, is a well-rounded player who should be highly sought after if and when he’s posted by the Hiroshima Carp following the Japan Series. (Think late November.) The Rangers, who have consistently dipped their toes into signing players from NPB, seem like an obvious fit.

There have been rumors about Kershaw wanting to pitch near his hometown for the last several years. This is perhaps his best chance at making that happen, as the Rangers have money to spend and he’s already won a World Series ring.

If the Dodgers are losing Scherzer and Kershaw to free agency, then they’ll have to make up ground somehow. It’ll probably come through trades, but we figure Verlander is likely to land with a contender on a short-term pact. Why not L.A.?

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We think Syndergaard is the player who is likeliest to accept the qualifying offer. That would put him back with the Mets for another season as he attempts to rebuild value.

No. 19 Eduardo Rodríguez, LHP: Red Sox

Rodríguez feels underrated despite spending his entire big-league career with Boston. The Red Sox could use the rotation help, so it seems unlikely they’ll allow him to walk.

We already predicted the Dodgers will lose Kershaw; why make it worse on Los Angeles fans by also forecasting a Jansen departure? 

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