For MLB fans of teams that have fallen out of the postseason race, the focus has already turned to the rapidly approaching offseason and what promises to be another exciting free-agency circus headlined by Aaron Judge and Trea Turner.
As the regular season winds to a close and before the playoffs begin, it's time for another quick round of free-agency predictions for the offseason ahead.
It's a mix of projected landing spots, contract estimates, opt-out decisions and even an international target to know.
Opt-Out/Player Option Predictions
Expect to see Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Jacob deGrom, Carlos Rodon and Justin Verlander all exercise their opt-out clauses or decline their player options to become part of the 2022-23 free-agent class.
From that group, only Bogaerts (four years, $80 million) and Correa (two years, $70.2 million) are leaving multiple years' worth of guaranteed money on the table. Verlander has a $25 million player option for 2023, while Rodon has a $22.5 million salary with an opt-out that vested when he reached 110 innings pitched.
The most complicated situation is deGrom's, as he has a $30.5 million player option for 2023 and a $32.5 million club option for 2024. And while there were some questions as to how his market would look given his recent injury issues, those have largely been answered with his fantastic return.
Digging a bit deeper, Mets starter Taijuan Walker ($6 million) also looks like a good bet to decline his player option and test the market.
So who does that leave to decide against opting out?
The big one is Nolan Arenado, who did not exercise his opt-out a year ago but has another one this winter. He is owed $144 million over the final five years of his contract, and with no indication that he is anything but happy in St. Louis, a reworked deal seems more likely than a straight opt-out.
Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale is also a lock to opt into the final three years and $75 million on his deal given his recent injury woes.
Bidding War Between Cubs, Phillies Drives Trea Turner's Price North of $300 Million
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies are both expected to walk away with one of the market's top free-agent shortstops this winter.
The Phillies can decline a $17 million club option on Jean Segura and shift Bryson Stott to second base to clear a path, while slick-fielding Nico Hoerner can easily move to the other side of second base to accommodate a major shortstop signing.
With all due respect to Xander Bogaerts and Carlos Correa, who are both elite-level players, Trea Turner is the best shortstop on the market this winter with contact ability (.304 BA, 18.0 K%), power (125 OPS+, 38 2B, 20 HR), speed (25 SB, 93 R) and defense (3.9 DEF) in the midst of a 4.8-WAR season.
The 29-year-old might not be able to match the 10-year deal that a 27-year-old Corey Seager landed last winter, but he could make a run at becoming the next $300 million player with an AAV exceeding the $35.1 million figure that Correa secured last offseason, especially if the Cubs and Phillies both pencil him into the No. 1 spot on their wish list.