Spring training is nearly upon us, meaning the majority of baseball content produced across the world wide web concerns either last offseason or the upcoming season. Sometimes, it's good to have a foot on each side of the preview/review fence. With that in mind, today we're looking to next winter by predicting those who we believe will be the top 10 free agents available.
To spice up things, we've decided to make this a "realistic" list by excluding players we believe will either re-sign before next winter, or who won't opt-out of their contracts. That means no Francisco Lindor, Freddie Freeman, Clayton Kershaw, or Max Scherzer, and no Nolan Arenado or Trevor Bauer, either.
You might wonder, dear reader, if this wrinkle is little more than a convenient excuse to avoid writing more about players we've covered so much; yes, yes it is. To the list:
1. Trevor Story, SS, Rockies
Story has been overshadowed by playing alongside Nolan Arenado. Need evidence? He's tied for the seventh-most Wins Above Replacement over the last three seasons -- not in the National League and not among shortstops, but overall and without restriction. He does it all: hits the ball hard; walks; plays good defense at a premium spot; steals some bags. Story has even cut into his strikeout rate, and has appeared in at least 89 percent of Colorado's games in four seasons since becoming a full-timer. Long Story short: he's a heck of a player, and he's going to make a team happy in less than a year's time, assuming he doesn't find it in his heart to stick with the Rockies.
2. Javier Baez, SS, Cubs
At Baez's best, he's an instinctual, magnetic talent who can square up nearly any pitch and who can make magic happen during the run of play, be it on the basepaths or fielding the ball. At Baez's worst … well, it can be hard to watch. His strikeout and walk rates went in the wrong direction last season, leaving him with the lowest walk-to-strikeout ratio among qualifiers (0.09; second-lowest, for reference, was 0.16). Baez didn't hit the ball as hard as normal, either, and his .262 batting average on balls in play was more than 70 points below his career mark. He's too good to stay down for long, so we're banking on a return to his very good, very fun form in 2021.