The top 100 potential MLB free agents for 2024-25 offseason — with options galore

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The top 100 potential MLB free agents for 2024-25 offseason — with options galore

The MLB season is off to an exciting start with terrific team and individual performances and plenty of compelling storylines. It’s also been exciting in the club boardrooms as executives, evaluators and analytics departments closely monitor potential 2024-25 free agents, who could form one of the deepest and best free-agent classes ever. With so many club, player and mutual option years now included in contracts, along with opt-out and opt-in clauses, there are countless possibilities for how this coming offseason could unfold. Suffice to say, it will be one to watch.

On the pitching front, the headliners are expected to include aces Corbin Burnes and Max Fried, but because of opt-out clauses, we could also see Cy Young Award-winning pitchers such as Gerrit Cole and/or Blake Snell, who could jump right back into free agency a little over seven months after signing with the Giants. Several injured players, such as Shane Bieber, another former Cy Young winner, could test the market as well.

On the position player side, Juan Soto, Pete Alonso and Alex Bregman will be three of the most sought-after names. It’s expected Soto will become the second player in baseball history to sign for at least half a billion dollars, after Shohei Ohtani broke that threshold with his $700 million deal with the Dodgers this past offseason.

But those are only some of the big names in what could be a stacked class. Here is my first look at the top 100 potential free agents for the 2024-25 offseason, broken down by position. Keep in mind, some of these players will sign extensions, others will have their options exercised by clubs or vested, and others could even decide to retire. Some will choose to opt in, others to opt out, depending on their respective situations. (In addition, more international players will join the eventual class.) However, all of the players listed here at least have a pathway to reach free agency after this season.

The top 35 (potential) free-agent starting pitchers in 2024-25

Gerrit Cole, who is currently sidelined with an elbow injury, could opt out of his contract after this season. (Nathan Ray Seebeck / USA Today)

1. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Yankees (opt-out clause)

Cole is on the 60-day injured list and not eligible to return until May 28 at the earliest. He can opt out at the end of the year, but missing the first two months of the season — at least — will probably lead to him deciding against that route as his contract will still have four years and $144 million remaining. If Cole, the defending AL Cy Young winner, does exercise the opt-out, the Yankees can void it by adding a 10th year (2029) at $36 million to his current deal. Before this year, Cole had made 30 or more starts and pitched 180-plus innings in each of the past six full seasons.

2. Corbin Burnes, RHP, Orioles

Burnes (2-0, 2.28 ERA, 0.930 WHIP in four starts) is an early front-runner for this year’s AL Cy Young Award, and he’s expected to be the highest-paid free-agent starting pitcher next offseason. He logged a 3.39 ERA last season in 32 starts for the Brewers, with 200 strikeouts in 193 2/3 innings. The 29-year-old has made three consecutive All-Star teams and finished top seven or better in the NL Cy Young voting in all three of those seasons, winning the award in 2021.

3. Roki Sasaki, RHP, Chiba Lotte Marines (unclear if he’ll be posted)

After Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s arrival this past winter, could another top Japanese pitching talent hit the market next offseason? MLB teams hope so, and they have been scouting Sasaki for several years. The 22-year-old sensation has struck out 418 in 322 2/3 innings over his first four professional years in Japan and has a 1.90 career ERA. His triple-digit fastball has the life to match the velocity. But it’s unknown if Chiba Lotte Marines, his NPB team, will part with him or wait longer to receive a higher posting fee.

When he does join the majors, it should be special. Team Mexico manager Benji Gil had this to say about Sasaki before facing him and Team Japan in the semifinals of the 2023 World Baseball Classic: “I think he’s a tremendous talent. I think he’s awesome for baseball. … I think he would be great at the big-league level right now.”

4. Max Fried, LHP, Braves

Fried has posted an ERA south of 2.60 in three of the past 4 seasons, but last year made only 14 starts due to injuries and this year has been hit hard in his first two starts, before looking more like himself in his latest outing. If he’s healthy and pitches to his potential, Fried will be the highest-paid southpaw in this free-agent class.

5. Blake Snell, LHP, Giants (opt-out clause)

The defending NL Cy Young Award winner wasn’t able to land the long-term contract he was expecting in free agency, so he’ll try to duplicate his 2023 dominance so he can opt out and re-enter the market for another try. He has a $30 million player option for 2025. Snell has been shelled in his first two starts with the Giants, yielding nine hits and 10 earned runs over seven innings. However, that shouldn’t be a surprise because he didn’t have a real spring training and San Francisco rushed him to the mound before he was fully ready.

6. Nathan Eovaldi, RHP, Rangers (vesting option)

Eovaldi has a vesting option of $20 million for 2025 if he pitches 300 innings in 2023 and 2024 combined. He threw 144 innings last year and if he can stay healthy should be able to get to that level again, which would make his salary next year a bargain for the Rangers and take him off the free-agent list.

7. Walker Buehler, RHP, Dodgers

Buehler is working to come back from Tommy John surgery in August 2022. His rehab has been progressing and he appears to be nearing a return to the Dodgers rotation. Buehler, 29, is a staggering 46-16 with a 3.02 ERA in 106 career starts.

8. Jordan Montgomery, LHP, Diamondbacks (vesting player option)

Montgomery has been as consistent as any left-handed starter in baseball over his past 94 starts dating to the beginning of 2021; as a member of the Yankees, Cardinals and Rangers, he’s posted a combined ERA of 3.31 over that span. He signed a one-year, $25 million contract with Arizona that includes a vesting player option for 2025, the value of which could escalate to $25 million based on games started. However, if he stays healthy, he’s expected to go back on the open market and should fare a lot better than he did this past offseason.

9. Justin Verlander, RHP, Astros (conditional player option)

The 41-year-old future Hall of Famer began the season on the IL with right shoulder inflammation but no structural damage. He could make his season debut this weekend. His contract includes a $35 million option for 2025 that vests if he pitches 140 innings this year. He threw 162 1/3 innings last year over 27 starts so he’ll need to stay healthy the rest of the way to get there.

10. Michael Wacha, RHP, Royals (player option)

Wacha is known for the special downward plane he gets on his fastball and for his elite changeup. He’s learned how to pitch over the past two years, knowing when to dial it up and dial it down. He went 11-2 with a 3.32 ERA with Boston in 2022 and then 14-4 with a 3.22 ERA over 24 starts for the Padres last year. The Royals got a real bargain when they landed him on a two-year, $32 million deal this offseason. (Wacha has a $16 million player option for 2025.)

11. Charlie Morton, RHP, Braves

Morton’s Steakhouse might be a chain but it probably has the most consistent New York strip of any steakhouse chain in history. Charlie is the same way on the mound, and in his five years with the Braves he’s gone 42-32 with a 4.10 ERA, posting an ERA under 3.70 in three of the past four years. Morton, who turned 40 last November, would like to finish his career with the Braves.

12. Shane Bieber, RHP, Guardians

Bieber got off to a stellar start this season, going 2-0 in his first two outings with 20 strikeouts and only one walk over 12 scoreless innings, but then learned he needed Tommy John surgery. A real blow for him and the Guardians. Bieber is 62-32 with a 3.22 ERA over his seven-year career. He won the AL Cy Young Award in 2020 and has finished among the top 7 in the voting three times. He’s made the All-Star team twice and has won a Gold Glove Award. I would expect someone will sign him to a two-year deal this offseason and rehab him next year with hopes to get him back for the end of 2025 and all of 2026 before he would again hit the free-agent market.

13. Max Scherzer, RHP, Rangers

The 39-year-old future Hall of Famer has started the year on IL after undergoing back surgery for a herniated disk in December. He went 13-6 last year with a 3.77 ERA over 27 starts combined between the Mets and Rangers. He’s no longer an ace, even when healthy, but showed last year he’s still a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter who can win big games.

14. Robbie Ray, LHP, Giants (opt-out clause)

Ray had Tommy John surgery in May 2023 and then the Mariners traded him to the Giants this past offseason. The Giants are hoping he’ll be back on the mound for them in the second half of the season if all goes well. Ray, the 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner, has not had any setbacks to date in his rehab. He is signed for $25 million for 2025 but can opt out if he chooses.

15. Frankie Montas, RHP, Reds (mutual option)

Montas went 13-9 with a 3.37 ERA with Oakland in 2021 and was traded in the middle of the 2022 season to the Yankees after he had made 19 starts with a 3.19 ERA. However, he suffered shoulder injuries with the Yankees and made only eight starts for them in 2022 and one start in 2023 before departing in free agency. He signed a one-year, $14 million deal with the Reds this offseason and looked like a legitimate Comeback Player of the Year candidate in his first three starts, though he struggled in his fourth outing. His contract includes a $20 million mutual option for 2025 with a $2 million buyout that either side can exercise.

16. Yusei Kikuchi, LHP, Blue Jays

Kikuchi had the best season of his six-year MLB career in 2023, going 11-6 with a 3.86 ERA and 181 strikeouts in 167 2/3 innings (32 starts). Command and control have been his downfall in the past, and at 32 years old that issue is probably not going away, but he’s off to a strong start this season (2.08 ERA in four starts with 29 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings).

17. Jose Quintana, LHP, Mets

Quintana was the Mets’ Opening Day starter following an injury-shortened season in which he posted a 3.57 ERA over 13 starts. The 35-year-old knows how to pitch and he keeps the Mets in most of his games.

18. Nick Pivetta, RHP, Red Sox

Pivetta (right elbow flexor strain) is on the IL after posting a 0.82 ERA over two starts to begin the season. He won 10 games in each of the past two years while posting ERAs of 4.04 and 4.56.

19. Luis Severino, RHP, Mets

Severino’s best seasons were in 2017 and 2018 when he went a combined 33-14 for the Yankees over 63 starts. He’s dealt with shoulder problems and hasn’t made 20 starts in a season since. However, he had a strong spring training and has fared well in his first three starts for the Mets, who are hoping he can stay healthy and be a Comeback Player of the Year candidate.

20. Jack Flaherty, RHP, Tigers

Flaherty was the ace of the Cardinals’ staff in 2019, when he won 11 games, logged a 2.75 ERA and led the league with a 0.968 WHIP. Injuries have set him back ever since although he did make 27 starts and two relief appearances last year between the Cardinals and Orioles, posting a 4.99 ERA. He has a 4.91 ERA in his first three starts with the Tigers but has looked better than last year at times.

21. Lance Lynn, RHP, Cardinals (club option)

Last year, Lynn posted a 6.47 ERA with the White Sox over 21 starts and then a 4.36 ERA with the Dodgers over 11 starts after he was traded at the deadline. He signed in the offseason with the Cardinals, who are hoping he can provide bulk innings, as he has for most of his career. Age and decline may be catching up to him, but Lynn will still battle opposing hitters for five or six innings per start. His contract includes a $10 million team option for 2025 with a $1 million buyout. Lynn has logged a 2.45 ERA in his first four outings of the season.

22. Alex Cobb, RHP, Giants

Cobb underwent hip surgery in late October and then had a setback recently with a flexor strain that delayed his throwing program. The 36-year-old Cobb, who posted a 3.87 ERA in 28 starts last season, is expected to be back on the active roster sometime in May if all goes as planned. When healthy, he’s as good as the salad.

23. James Paxton, LHP, Dodgers

Paxton is a first half of the season-type pitcher who has been injury-prone since 2020. Last year he went 7-5 with a 4.50 ERA for the Red Sox but posted a 3.16 ERA in his first eight outings. He’s off to a solid start with the Dodgers (2-0, 2.81 ERA over innings).

24. John Means, LHP, Orioles

Means is trying to return to the Orioles rotation after a left forearm strain flared up during spring training. He’s now made three rehab starts for Triple-A Norfolk and the Orioles are hoping he can work his way back to their rotation in early May. Means, who had Tommy John surgery in April 2022, made four starts for the Orioles last September, logging a 2.66 ERA and allowing just 13 hits in 23 2/3 innings.

25. Andrew Heaney, LHP, Rangers

Heaney was a solid back-of-the-rotation starter/swing man for the Rangers last year, winning 10 games and posting a 4.15 ERA in 28 starts and six relief appearances. Over the past two years he’s averaged nine strikeouts per nine innings and three walks per nine for Texas.

26. Kyle Gibson, RHP, Cardinals (club option)

Gibson went 15-9 last year for the Orioles with an inflated 4.73 ERA and a more reasonable 4.13 FIP. He signed a one-year deal this offseason with the Cardinals, who are hoping he can make 33 starts, as he did for Baltimore in 2023, and again provide 192 innings, even though he also allowed more hits than any pitcher in the AL last year. The Cardinals have a $12 million option for 2025 or a $1 million buyout.

27. Wade Miley, LHP, Brewers (mutual option)

The soft-tossing southpaw made 23 starts last year for the Brewers with a 3.14 ERA over 120 1/3 innings, and they opted to re-sign him to shore up their rotation. Miley’s contract includes a $12 million mutual option for 2025 with a $1.5 million buyout that either side can exercise. Miley, who began this season on the IL, took a liner off his left kneecap in Tuesday’s start against the Padres and exited after three innings.

28. Nick Martinez, RHP, Reds (opt-out clause)

Martinez made 54 relief appearances and nine starts for the Padres last year, posting a 3.43 ERA over 110 1/3 innings. The Reds are hoping he can be a full-time starter, and he’s made two starts and one relief appearance thus far. He has a $12 million player option for 2025.

29. Kyle Hendricks, RHP, Cubs

The 34-year-old sinkerballer made 24 starts for the Cubs last year, posting a 3.74 ERA thanks to his pitchability and his command in and out of the strike zone. He’s thrown his 86-88 mph fastball at the same velocity for the past decade but the biggest difference is he’s used his changeup 40 percent of the time the past two years with only an occasional curveball. He’s struggled (12.71 ERA, 2.235 WHIP) in his first four starts this year.

30. Martín Pérez, LHP, Pirates

Pérez went 12-8 with a 2.89 ERA for Texas in 2022 but lost his spot in the rotation when he went 10-4 with a 4.45 ERA last year. He’s looking to rebound with the Pirates this year and has impressed early (2.55 ERA over four starts). He knows how to pitch with deception.

31. Mike Clevinger, RHP, White Sox

Clevinger posted a 3.77 ERA in 24 starts (131 1/3 innings) last year, but he didn’t receive a lot of interest in free agency. He took a 50 percent pay cut to return to the White Sox on a one-year, $4 million deal.

32. Sean Manaea, LHP, Mets (opt-out clause)

The hard-throwing lefty likes to pound the top of the strike zone but misses over the plate too much. He posted a 4.44 ERA last year with the Padres in 10 starts and 27 relief appearances but is hoping for a better season as he returns to a full-time gig as a starting pitcher.

33. Adrian Houser, RHP, Mets

The Mets acquired Houser in an offseason trade with the Brewers after he went 8-5 with a 4.12 ERA over 21 starts and two relief appearances for Milwaukee last year. He’s a back-of-the-rotation starter who’s never pitched 150 (or more) innings in a season.

34. Ross Stripling, RHP, A’s

Stripling is 38-47 with a 4.00 ERA in 119 career starts and 111 relief appearances over 784 2/3 innings of his nine-year career. He’s started this year 0-4 after coming to the A’s in an offseason trade with the Giants and he hasn’t recorded a win since 2022.

35. Patrick Corbin, LHP, Nationals

Corbin led the NL in losses each of the past three seasons but at least has taken the ball every fifth day when asked. His ERAs of 5.20, 6.31 and 5.82 in those seasons are as disappointing as the losses. The good news for the Nationals is Corbin’s six-year, $140 million contract is over at the end of the year.

The top 10 (potential) free-agent closers in 2024-25

Kenley Jansen, right, is tied for fifth on the all-time saves leaderboard with 424. (Stephen Brashear / USA Today)

1. Kenley Jansen, RHP, Red Sox

Jansen ages like a fine bottle of Château Margaux and has racked up 424 career saves, including 108 over the past three years with the Red Sox, Braves and Dodgers. He’s off to a strong start this season with four saves in as many opportunities.

2. Clay Holmes, RHP, Yankees

Holmes posted ERAs of 2.54 and 2.86 in the past two seasons while registering 44 saves over that span. He has allowed no runs in eight appearances this season and is tied for second in the majors with six saves.

3. Ryan Pressly, RHP, Astros (mutual option)

Pressly had 90 saves for the Astros over the past three years as their main closer but was moved to the set-up role when they signed Josh Hader to a five-year, $95 million deal. Pressly has a mutual option that will turn into a $14 million player option with 50 appearances this year, which he should get if he stays healthy. However, he will likely choose to enter free agency to sign with a team that will make him the closer.

4. Paul Sewald, RHP, Diamondbacks

Sewald saved 34 games last season, including 13 for the Diamondbacks, helping them make an improbable run to the World Series. He finished the season with a 3.12 ERA over 65 appearances with the Diamondbacks and Mariners, who dealt him to Arizona at the trade deadline. He’s currently on the IL with a strained oblique.

5. Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Orioles (club option)

Kimbrel has 421 career saves, including 23 last year with the Phillies. The nine-time All-Star is not as consistent as he once was but can still get the job done most days. His contract includes a $13 million club option for 2025 with a $1 million buyout.

6. José Leclerc, RHP, Rangers

Leclerc posted ERAs of 2.68 and 2.83 the past two seasons and was the Rangers’ closer last October en route to their World Series title. However, he’s never been able to keep the closer role full-time because of control issues and inconsistency.

7. Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Pirates

Chapman is still hitting triple digits on the radar gun but is off to an uneven start with the Pirates as their main set-up reliever to closer David Bednar. Last year, Chapman struck out 102 in 58 1/3 innings between the Rangers and Royals. His control makes the manager beg for a defibrillator but his wipeout stuff wows.

8. David Robertson, RHP, Rangers (mutual option)

Robertson posted a 2.02 ERA and 18 saves in 62 appearances with the Marlins and Mets last year. He starts this season as a set-up reliever with the Rangers but could end up closing games as well. His contract includes a $7 million option for 2025 with a $1.5 million buyout that either side can exercise.

9. Will Smith, LHP, Royals

Smith saved 22 games for the Rangers last year, posting a 3.36 FIP and 4.40 ERA. He returned to the Royals as part of a closer by committee arrangement after being on World Series-winning teams the past three seasons (Rangers, Astros and Braves).

10. Daniel Bard, RHP, Rockies

Bard will miss the 2024 season after it was announced he will have surgery on his right elbow flexor tendon. He started the season on the IL after tearing the meniscus in his left knee and undergoing surgery in February. When healthy, Bard served as both a set-up man and closer for Colorado, logging 61 saves and a 3.83 ERA over his past four seasons. Can the former NL Comeback Player of the Year make another comeback?

The top 20 (potential) free-agent infielders in 2024-25

Alex Bregman is expected to hit free agency after nine seasons with Houston. (Troy Taormina / USA Today)

1. Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets

Alonso has hit 40 or more home runs in each of the past two seasons while driving in a combined 249 runs, the most in the National League over that span. He’s also worked hard during that time to try to improve his defense. This season, he’s off to a good start with six homers and a 147 OPS+. The Mets would like to sign him long term and although the feeling is mutual, both sides seem resigned to the fact he’ll get to free agency without an extension.

2. Alex Bregman, 3B, Astros

Bregman has been one of the Astros’ faces of the franchise since he was selected second overall in the 2015 MLB Draft out of LSU. He’s made two All-Star teams, won a Silver Slugger Award and finished top 5 in the AL MVP voting twice. Bregman, 30, has averaged 24 home runs and 96 RBIs a season over the past two years.

3. Gleyber Torres, 2B, Yankees

Torres wears the pinstripes with pride and would love to spend the rest of his career as a Yankee. However, the 27-year-old is also in his prime and will be the best second baseman on the free-agent market. He hit 28 doubles each of the past two years to go with 24 home runs in 2022 and 25 in 2023, a statement of his consistency. He’s going to get paid.

4. Christian Walker, 1B, Diamondbacks

Walker belted 36 home runs with 94 RBIs in 2022, then swatted 33 more long balls last year and drove in 103 runs. His career slash line of .250/.332/.461 tells the story. He also won Gold Glove awards in each of the past two years.

5. Ha-Seong Kim, SS, Padres (mutual option)

Kim slashed .260/.351/.398 last season with 23 doubles, 17 home runs and 38 stolen bases. He made the move this year from second base to shortstop, where he is expected to be a candidate for a Gold Glove Award, an honor he received last year as a second baseman. Kim has a $7 million mutual option for 2025 with a $2 million buyout. He will decline the option and enter free agency along with the Brewers’ Willy Adames as the top two shortstops on the open market.

6. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Cardinals

Goldschmidt has made seven All-Star teams and won four Gold Gloves and five Silver Slugger awards, not to mention the NL MVP Award in 2022. Last year he had his lowest batting average (.268) since his rookie year in 2011 but still hit 25 home runs and drove in 80. Age and decline are starting to show for Goldschmidt, who turns 37 in September, but he should have a year or two left in the tank.

7. Matt Chapman, 3B, Giants (opt-out clause)

It’s hard to believe Chapman has won “only” four Gold Glove awards in his first seven years in the majors — he’s clearly one of the best defensive third basemen of his era. He also usually has provided 25-home run type power to go along with his career .239 batting average and .328 on-base percentage. He has successive player options at $17 million, $18 million and $20 million over the next three years with buyouts of $2 million, $3 million and $1 million, respectively. I think he only opts out of this contract after the season if he has close to a “career” type performance.

8. Willy Adames, SS, Brewers

Adames has 18.8 career WAR (Baseball Reference), 120 home runs and a 108 OPS+ since breaking into the big leagues in 2018. He’s hit 20 or more home runs in four straight seasons. He slashed just .217/.310/.407 last season with a 95 OPS+ but did hit 29 doubles and 24 home runs.

9. Eugenio Suárez, 3B, Diamondbacks (club option)

Suárez is a plus defender at third base and provides 20- to 30-home run power at the plate. His career slash line of .248/.332/.455 is what you can expect from him now. However, he’s also led the league in strikeouts three of the past six years. He has a $15 million club option for 2025 with a $2 million buyout.

10. Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Brewers (opt-out clause)

Hoskins has swatted 27 or more home runs in four of the past five years that he’s played. He missed all of 2023 with a torn ACL and then signed with Milwaukee this past offseason. He’s a below-average defender at first base but has worked over the past several years to at least be adequate. He has an $18 million player option for 2025 with a $4 million buyout and then a mutual option for 2026 (also $18 million with $4 million buyout).

11. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Yankees (club option)

A leader on the field and in the clubhouse, Rizzo hit 32 home runs with a .338 on-base percentage in 130 games in 2022 but was limited to 99 games last year because of injuries, still managing to hit 12 homers and drive in 41 runs. He has a $17 million club option for 2025 with a $6 million buyout. The Yankees likely won’t exercise their option on Rizzo and instead could open up third base for Oswaldo Cabrera or another younger option by moving DJ LeMahieu to first base for the final two years of his contract.

12. Jorge Polanco, 2B, Mariners (club option)

The Mariners acquired Polanco from the Twins during spring training in a five-player trade to solve their second base position. Polanco was an All-Star in 2019 but his most productive year was 2021, when he hit 33 homers with 98 RBIs and 11 steals. He’s averaged 15 homers and 92 games played over the past two seasons as injuries have taken their toll. Polanco’s contract includes a $12 million club option for 2025 with a $750,000 buyout and additional escalator clauses.

13. Brandon Lowe, 2B, Rays (club option)

Lowe hit 39 home runs in 2021 and 21 home runs last year. He’s a career .244/.333/.482 hitter. He finished in the top 10 in the AL MVP voting in 2020 and 2021 but injuries have significantly limited his playing time the past two years. The Rays have a $10.5 million option for 2025 with a $1 million buyout and a $11.5 million option for 2026 ($500,000 buyout).

14. Brandon Drury, 2B/3B, Angels

Drury’s versatility — he can play first, second and third plus the outfield — adds to his value. He hit 26 homers last year with 30 doubles and 83 RBIs while slashing .262/.306/.497.

15. Wilmer Flores, INF, Giants (player option)

The versatile Flores has the ability to play first, second and third base and he’s a consistent offensive performer, averaging approximately 20 home runs and 60 RBIs in each of the past three years. Flores has a 2025 player option at $3.5 million, and if he declines it, the club then has an option at $8.5 million.

16. Yoán Moncada, 3B, White Sox (club option)

Moncada is on the IL after suffering a severe groin injury about a week ago. He’s averaged 12 home runs per season the past three years and has a career .332 OBP. The White Sox have a $25 million club option for 2025 or a $5 million buyout, and there is no question they’ll decline the option.

17. Josh Bell, 1B, Marlins

Bell is a below-average defender at first base but provides solid production, as he showed last year when he hit .247 with 28 doubles, 22 home runs and 74 RBIs. He’s a positive clubhouse presence with strong makeup and character.

18. Tim Anderson, SS, Marlins

Anderson hit over .300 from 2019 through 2022, making two All-Star teams and winning a Silver Slugger award during that span. But last year with the White Sox was a disaster as he hit .245 with a .286 OBP and just 18 doubles and one home run. He signed with the Marlins in the offseason with hopes he can become a Comeback Player of the Year candidate this year.

19. J.D. Davis, 3B, A’s

Davis had a solid season last year, hitting .248 with 18 home runs and 69 RBIs and then won his arbitration case against the Giants. However, they released him after signing Matt Chapman and the A’s signed Davis to a one-year deal shortly thereafter. He can play first base, third base and left field, all at a below-average level.



J.D. Davis released, loses most of his $6.9 million salary after Giants exercise a loophole

20. Nick Senzel, 3B, Nationals

Senzel’s major-league career has been filled with injuries and position changes. The Reds drafted him No. 2 overall in 2016 as a third baseman, then asked him to play shortstop, second base, left field and even center field. The Nationals signed Senzel this offseason to be their full-time third baseman, his original and best position. However, he fractured his right thumb on Opening Day during batting practice and started the season on the IL. He went 1-for-3 on Monday, his first game with the Nationals.

The top 20 (potential) free-agent outfielders in 2024-25

Cody Bellinger could opt out and go back on the free-agent market in November. (Orlando Ramirez / USA Today)

1. Juan Soto, RF, Yankees

Soto is the headliner of the 2024-25 free-agent class and is expected to become the second half-a-billion-dollar player in baseball history, after Shohei Ohtani. Soto was my preseason pick for AL MVP and he’s off to an MVP-caliber start to the season: He’s tied for the league lead in walks with Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge, and he’s hit three home runs with 15 RBIs over his first 18 games as a Yankee. His elite approach at the plate has been contagious as he and his teammates lead the AL in walks, on-base percentage and pitches seen per plate appearance. He’s one of the most disciplined hitters in the sport, with the ridiculous career OBP (.422) to prove it. His charisma and swag match his immense talent.

2. Cody Bellinger, CF, Cubs (opt-out clause / player option)

Bellinger’s career accolades include an NL MVP (2019), an NLCS MVP (2018), a Gold Glove (2019), a Rookie of the Year trophy (2017) and two Silver Slugger awards. Last year he added the NL Comeback Player of the Year award to that collection after hitting .307 with 26 home runs and 97 RBIs with the Cubs, whom he re-signed with after a long winter on the market. His ability to play above-average defense at first base and all three outfield positions increases his value. He has a $27.5 million player option for 2025 ($2.5 million buyout if he opts out) and a $25 million option for 2026 with a $5 million buyout. If he can repeat his 2023 performance, I expect he’ll go back on the market to get a long-term guaranteed deal.

3. Teoscar Hernández, OF, Dodgers

Hernández’s calling card is being a consistent 25-home run corner-outfield bat and he has slashed .261/.317/.487 for his career. He also strikes out on average 150 times a season but did so a career-high 211 times last year with the Mariners. He’s a below-average defender in both outfield corners. He’s among the early league leaders with five homers and 18 RBIs and is known as a positive clubhouse presence.

4. Anthony Santander, RF, Orioles

“Tony Taters” is one of the most underrated middle-of-the-lineup producers in the league. He’s averaged 30 home runs and 92 RBIs over the past two seasons. He’s a career .248 hitter with a 108 OPS+ over more than 2,500 plate appearances and is a below-average defender in right field.

5. Tyler O’Neill, OF, Red Sox

O’Neill, who boasts some of the best biceps in the sport, has tremendous raw power. His issue has been staying healthy. An above-average defender, O’Neill has won two Gold Glove awards and he finished eighth in the MVP voting in 2021, when he hit 34 homers with the Cardinals. However, he’s played more than 96 games only once (’21) in his first six seasons. He’s off to a strong start in Boston with seven homers and a 1.209 OPS but will miss a couple of games after a bad collision Monday with Rafael Devers, although O’Neill has cleared the concussion protocol.

6. Michael Conforto, OF, Giants

Conforto has been working with Barry Bonds to improve and shorten his swing and has seen early success this season, hitting .292 with four homers and 14 RBIs. He’s hit 20 or more homers three times in his career and 14 or more five times. Conforto is a below-average defender with limited range as shown by his early 24th percentile ranking in outs above average, according to Baseball Savant, and he has a well-below-average arm.

7. Alex Verdugo, OF, Yankees

A gamer who plays hard, posts daily and plays hurt. Verdugo is a career .337 OBP hitter with doubles power (averaged 36 per year over the past three seasons) who can give you about 10 to 14 homers a season as well. He has been a plus defensively in left field for the Yankees thanks to his hustle, which has helped him rank in the 70th percentile in outs above average (range), along with an above-average arm. He also leads the Yankees in both tattoos and necklaces.

8. Max Kepler, RF, Twins

Kepler slashed .260/.332/.484 last year with 22 doubles, 24 home runs and 66 RBIs. For his career, he’s hit .242 with 128 home runs versus right-handed pitching and .215 with 25 home runs against left-handed pitching. He’s currently on the IL after suffering a right knee contusion on Opening Day.

9. Jason Heyward, RF, Dodgers

Now a platoon right fielder, Heyward reached base at a .340 clip last year with 23 doubles, 15 home runs and 40 RBIs in 377 plate appearances. The five-time Gold Glove winner is still a plus-plus defender. He’s currently on the IL with lower back tightness.

10. Kevin Kiermaier, CF, Blue Jays

A four-time Gold Glove Award winner, Kiermaier is one of the best defensive center fielders of this era, with ridiculous range in all directions. He’s a career .248 hitter with a .308 OBP and he hasn’t hit more than eight home runs in a season since 2019.

11. Mitch Haniger, RF, Mariners (opt-out clause)

Haniger played 157 games in both 2018 and 2021. However, due to numerous injuries, those are the only seasons in the past eight years he’s played 100 or more games. He has 25- to 30-home run power when healthy and a career .257 average with a 120 OPS+. Haniger has a $15.5 million player option for 2025 that I’m guessing he’ll exercise.

12. Harrison Bader, CF, Mets

Bader is a plus-plus defender in center field and won a Gold Glove Award in 2021 with the Cardinals. He’s the kind of player whose uniform is usually dirty by the national anthem. An excellent overall base runner, he swipes bags at a high rate (20 steals in 23 attempts last year, 3-for-3 so far this year). He’s also a career .243 hitter with 12-home run power (career OPS+ of 92).

13. Adam Duvall, OF, Braves

Duvall is a solid platoon left fielder and an above-average defender. His arm and power are his best tools. A career .232 hitter over 11 seasons, Duvall posted his best OPS+ (119) last year with Boston. He was an All-Star in 2016 and a Gold Glover in right field in 2021. He led the NL in RBIs in 2021 with 113.

14. Michael A. Taylor, CF, Pirates

Taylor is an above-average defender in center with special range, and he won a Gold Glove Award in 2021 with the Royals. He has 20-home run power and 20-stolen base potential. He also strikes out at a high rate (33.5 percent of the time last year with the Twins).

15. Manuel Margot, OF, Twins (club option)

Margot is an excellent fourth outfielder. He’s a plus defender in the corners and an average defender in center. He’s a career .255 hitter with 10- to 12-home run power. The Twins hold a $12 million team option for 2025 with a $2 million buyout.

16. Victor Robles, CF, Nationals

Once considered the Nationals’ best prospect, Robles hasn’t lived up to the lofty expectations. He has a career slash line of .238/.313/.359. In his seven past seasons with Washington, Robles hit more than six home runs once and stole more than 15 bases once. He’s currently on the IL with a left hamstring strain.

17. Kiké Hernández, OF, Dodgers

Hernández can hit a fastball with the best of them. He has power and versatility. (He can play second base, shortstop, third base and all three outfield spots.) He struggles against breaking balls and off-speed pitches. Contending teams want him on their bench. His high energy and enthusiasm are contagious, and he’s considered a great teammate.

18. Joey Gallo, OF, Nationals (mutual option)

Gallo is an above-average defender at all of the infield and outfield corners. He’s “all or nothing” at the plate most of the time — always a threat to hit a homer or strike out.

19. Eddie Rosario, LF, Nationals

Rosario’s career highlight was being named NLCS MVP in 2021, the year the Braves won the World Series. He can hit fastballs for power. He’s a below-average defender in left field and struggles against breaking balls. Last year he batted .255/.305/.450 (100 OPS+) with 21 homers for the Braves.

20. Austin Slater, OF, Giants

Slater slashed .270/.348/.400 with nine doubles, five home runs and 20 RBIs coming off the bench last year for the Giants.

The top 8 (potential) free-agent DHs in 2024-25

Marcell Ozuna hit a career-high 40 homers last season. (Sam Navarro / USA Today)

1. Marcell Ozuna, DH, Braves (club option)

Ozuna has found a great fit as the Braves’ DH, swatting 40 homers last year with 100 RBIs to go along with a .346 OBP. He’s off to a fast start this season with seven homers and a 1.144 OPS. The Braves hold a $16 million team option ($1 million buyout) for 2025 and I’ll be surprised if they don’t exercise it.

2. J.D. Martinez, DH, Mets

Martinez received a cortisone shot in his back last week, which further delayed his Mets debut. Last year with the Dodgers, he hit .271 with 33 home runs and 103 RBIs. Martinez is a six-time All-Star, including appearances in each of the past three years, and three-time Silver Slugger winner. He’s also a valuable presence in the cage and clubhouse, helping mentor and lead the other players. He’s a great teammate.

3. Justin Turner, 3B/DH, Blue Jays

When I think of Turner, the first thing that comes to mind is that he’s a winner, on and off the field. The 39-year-old hit .276 last year for the Red Sox with 23 home runs and 96 RBIs. He’s mostly a DH now but can play first and third base on occasion.

4. Eloy Jiménez, OF/DH, White Sox (club option)

Jiménez has always possessed .300 hitter, 30-home run potential but has not lived up to those expectations because of injuries, which have limited him to fewer than 85 games in four of his six years in the majors. He played in 120 games last year and hit .272 with 18 home runs and 64 RBIs over 456 at-bats. He began this season on the IL with a left adductor strain but was activated Monday. Jiménez has a $16.5 million team option for 2025 with a $3 million buyout and an $18.5 million team option for 2026 ($3 million buyout). Jiménez needs to have a healthy and productive season for the White Sox to pick up his option; otherwise, they’ll probably decide to move on from him either via trade or by letting him depart in free agency.

5. Joc Pederson, OF/DH, Diamondbacks (mutual option)

He’s a platoon DH who can be used against right-handed pitching, with 15- to 20-home run power in that role. A two-time All-Star, Pederson has played in 79 postseason games over 16 playoff series, including World Series appearances with the Dodgers and Braves. His contract includes a mutual option for 2025 at $14 million ($3 million buyout).

6. Charlie Blackmon, RF/DH, Rockies

Blackmon is a four-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger. The 37-year-old has been in decline since 2019, when he hit 32 home runs. He hit six, 13, 16 and eight in the four subsequent seasons. He remains one of the faces of the franchise for the Rockies but is not expected to be re-signed as their outfield and hitting prospects should be ready to take over.

7. Mark Canha, OF/DH, Tigers

Canha is well-regarded for working counts and drawing walks and has put up a .350 career on-base percentage over 15 seasons. He has 15-home run power and is a below-average defender at first base and in left field.

8. Carlos Santana, 1B/DH, Twins

I’m beginning to believe he’s going to outlast the band. The 38-year-old has 301 career home runs and 1,013 RBIs. He hit .249 with 11 home runs last year with the Brewers and Pirates.

The top 7 (potential) free-agent catchers in 2024-25

Elias Díaz posted a .725 OPS last season. (Kyle Ross / USA Today)

1. Elias Díaz, C, Rockies

Díaz hit .267 last season with 14 home runs and 72 RBIs. A first-time All-Star last year, he was named the ASG MVP after hitting a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning.

2. Danny Jansen, Blue Jays

Jansen returned from the IL this week after suffering a small fracture in his right wrist during spring training. He’s a strong defensive catcher and has 15- to 17-home run power.

3. Yan Gomes, Cubs

Gomes is one of the best platoon catchers in baseball and a leader on and off the field. Last year he hit .267 with 10 home runs and 63 RBIs over 116 games (382 at-bats). He’s an above-average game caller behind the dish.

4. Kyle Higashioka, Padres

Higashioka was a solid backup catcher with the Yankees for seven seasons before being included in the Juan Soto trade this past offseason. He now serves as a backup to Luis Campusano on the Padres. Higashioka has hit 10 home runs in each of the past three seasons and is a career .208 hitter.

5. James McCann, Orioles

McCann is in the final year of a four-year, $40.6 million contract he signed with the Mets after the 2020 season. He’s the backup for Adley Rutschman in Baltimore, where he hit .222 last year with 14 doubles and six home runs in 70 games.

6. Omar Narvaez, Mets

Narvaez has played nine years in the majors, including stints with the White Sox, Mariners, Brewers and Mets. He hit .211 last year for New York in 49 games as a backup. The left-handed hitter was an All-Star in 2021 with Milwaukee.

7. Max Stassi, White Sox (club option)

Stassi hit .180 last season for the Angels with nine home runs and 30 RBIs. The veteran catcher is an average framer with a slow pop time. He has a $7.5 million club option for 2025 with a $500,000 buyout clause. He started this season on the IL with left hip inflammation.

(Top image: John Bradford / The Athletic. Photos: Daniel Shirey, Dustin Satloff and Rich Schultz / Getty Images)