If it feels like last year’s free agency just ended, that’s because it did. The “winter” technically stretched into early June, when Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel finally signed with the Braves and Cubs, respectively.
But it won’t be very long until we fire up free agency yet again, and there’s a ton of talent on the table.
Here, we’ll take a look at some early free-agent power rankings (20 players for 2020). But like so much of life, it gets complicated. The market will be drastically affected by what happens with various opt-outs and option clauses. For this list, we’re going to leave off guys whose options are likely to be exercised or whose opt-outs aren’t. This currently applies to David Price, Anthony Rizzo, Starling Marte, José Quintana, Yu Darvish and Elvis Andrus, among others. But as always, stay tuned!
We will, however, include a few others who aren’t necessarily as likely to remain attached to their current contracts, and have noted those with an asterisk (*). All ages as of Opening Day 2020.
1) Gerrit Cole, RHP, age 29
2019 FanGraphs WAR: 7.4, 2.50 ERA
Free agency has changed a lot, but splurging on a star starter is still very much a thing. Patrick Corbin netted a six-year, $140 million guarantee entering his age-29 season with a smaller track record of success than what Cole will take into this market. This SoCal native would be a franchise-changer for the likes of the Angels and Padres, and the Yankees and Dodgers could certainly find room for him, too, if they alter their recent free-agent approaches.
2) Anthony Rendon, 3B, age 29
fWAR: 7.0, 1.010 OPS
There were rumblings about an extension throughout the spring and even into the regular season, but Rendon has only upped the ante with a 2019 season that put him in the MVP conversation. The Nats will continue to try to lock him up, but his home-state Rangers could make him a centerpiece in their new ballpark, and various other teams (such as the Phillies, Cardinals and Dodgers) make sense, too.
3) Stephen Strasburg, RHP, age 31*
fWAR: 5.7, 3.32 ERA
The first intriguing opt-out candidate! Strasburg can opt out of the remaining four years and $100 million on his deal. Having eclipsed 200 innings for just the second time in his career with one of the best ERA+ marks (138) of his career and an outstanding run in the postseason, Strasburg has heightened speculation that he’ll test the open market, where his hometown Padres would almost certainly be among his suitors. That said, Strasburg doesn’t actively chase the spotlight. He could opt in or use the opt-out as leverage for an extension with the Nats, something Clayton Kershaw did with the Dodgers last year.