Which teams and players will make a splash this offseason?

Lucas Milgrim, Sports Editor

When 2020 began, the incoming MLB Free Agent class looked as if it would be stacked top to bottom with star talent, headlined by the former MVP Mookie Betts.  With the lack of success after the 2018 championship in Boston, it was likely that he would explore another option at the end of the season.  

However, in Feb., Betts was sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a trade with pitcher David Price for a slew of prospects, making the Dodgers favorites to win the title.  Experts speculated that he would stay in LA for the long run, especially if they had success in 2020.  When the season was delayed, contract talks heated up, and Betts eventually signed a twelve-year, $365 million contract, eliminating him from any free agency until 2032, lining up the Dodgers for years of success after the 2020 World Series.  Without Betts, there is certainly less intrigue to this winter’s free agents, but there are still plenty of top-tier talents that could dramatically alter the league.

The number one free agent for many teams looking to add one final piece to put them

over the top is starting pitcher Trevor Bauer.  The 30 year-old has been performing at an

all-star level, and is one of the favorites for the National League CY Young Award after a stellar season on the Cincinnati Reds.  Bauer led their strong rotation to a playoff appearance, in which he pitched 7.2 shutout innings in a loss before their exit in the following game.  

In a league where starting pitching is at a premium, Bauer is looking for a one-year contract with a high annual value to maximize earnings based on his talent.  He has made it clear that he won’t be staying in Cincinnati, and has posted many cryptic tweets hinting at possibly signing with the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, or Mets, or many other teams that could look to sign him.  Many fans believe the best fit would be in Los Angeles with the Angels, a team with a powerful offense and a weak starting rotation looking to take their star Mike Trout to the playoffs.  Wherever Bauer signs, he is sure to make a major impact on the league with his personality and pitching.

Another marquee free agent at a valuable position is catcher J. T. Realmuto, who

played for the Phillies this past season.  Realmuto continued to cement himself as one of the

top catchers in baseball on both sides of the field, with an OPS of .840 and a perfect fielding

percentage.  It has become increasingly hard to find elite talents at catcher, so Realmuto will

have plenty of suitors willing to pay big money for his services behind the plate.  

The Phillies,star-studded offensively and horrendous at pitching, had another underwhelming season, missing the playoffs.  Realmuto isn’t nearly as vocal about his options for next year as Bauer, so we don’t have as much of an idea of where he could go.  Also unlike Bauer, there is a strong chance he stays in Philadelphia as long as they offer a big check.  

This class has a lot of depth beyond these two elite positions.  Outfielder George Springer has proven to be a playoff star in his seasons to the Astros, and will draw plenty of options in a thin market of outfielders.  The top choices for him would be to travel to New York and play for the up-and-coming Mets, or stay in Houston, which has been a model for building success from the dumpsters.  

Next are two infielders who were top three in MVP voting during the 2019 season, but had vastly different results this shortened season.  Marcus Semien, the Athletics’ shortstop, was abysmal offensively and defensively following his elite season, lowering his value. He should still get plenty of value in a contract, with potential teams being the Philadelphia Phillies if current shortstop Didi Gregorius lands elsewhere, and the Cincinnati Reds.  

DJ Lemahieu produced out of the leadoff spot in New York following up his career season, and was more than formidable as a defender across the diamond.  The Yankees will aggressively be looking to resign him, but the Cubs are in the mix as well after a postseason exit and a hole at second base.  Other premier free agents, including DH/outfielder Marcell Ozuna, pitcher Marcus Stroman, and DH Nelson Cruz will most likely stay on their current teams, the Braves, Mets, and Twins, respectively, for purposes of success, comfort, and of course, money.  This deep class could dictate which teams are strong and which are not for the near future.

Overall, there is no lack for high-level free agent talent this offseason.  Teams like the

Yankees, Angels, and Phillies are poised to make big moves after disappointing finishes to a

promising season and plenty of space to sign new talents.  This offseason could shake up the league more than any in recent history.