An Early Look at How Some of the Potential MLB Free Agents This Fall Are Performing

MLB Free Agents

With most teams having already played almost half of their games, and the calendar nearing July, a lot of focus is on the All-Star Game and the upcoming trade deadline. Teams are preparing for the MLB Draft and to make trades for the playoff race.

As the season reaches its halfway point, more focus will also be put on the upcoming group of free agents. Here’s a look at how some of the players who could be moving to new teams this offseason have performed so far.

Trea Turner

After winning a World Series with the Washington Nationals in 2019, Turner was traded to the Dodgers along with Max Scherzer at last year’s trade deadline. He’s been excellent with LA, recording a .950 OPS in 52 games with the team last season and hitting for a .853 OPS through 73 games this season.

Turner, at 29, will reach free agency before he turns 30, and is in line to sign one of the biggest contracts of this offseason. The shortstop is on track for four straight seasons with an OPS above .850. In addition, he is one of the best baserunners in the game and his power numbers continue to be solid.

There will be questions about how long Turner’s speed will last as he ages, but despite that, his offense should still be solid over the course of his next contract. The biggest impact in contract negotiations may be questions over his defense, as he could be a candidate to move to second base as he enters his 30s.

This offseason there will be several teams who will have interest in Turner, and his market will be among the best of any free agent. It will be interesting to see how his contract compares to his former teammate Corey Seager’s 10-year, $325 million deal with the Rangers.

Carlos Correa

While Correa isn’t guaranteed to be a free agent after this offseason, it is extremely likely that he will exercise the opt-out in his contract with the Minnesota Twins. During the last offseason, Correa’s market was limited in part by durability concerns, as he had only played more than 145 games twice in his career.
While he has only played 54 games this season, he has performed at a level that should earn him the $275-325 million long-term deal many expected he would sign last offseason.

Correa, who will be 28 when he becomes a free agent this fall, has 2.1 WAR already this season. The shortstop has a .840 OPS, and is above the 85th percentile in average exit velocity, maximum exit velocity, and hard-hit rate.

When he enters free agency this offseason, there will still be concerns about his long-term health. However, if he can play more than 130 games this season and continue to perform as he has all year, he could end up earning the biggest contract of any free agent this offseason.

Xander Bogaerts

Bogaerts has been one of the most consistent offensive players in baseball since 2018. However, he will be the oldest of the major shortstops who will be free agents this fall.

During the start of the season, as the Red Sox struggled to find momentum, Bogaerts was routinely mentioned as a possible trade candidate. Now, Boston is 43-33 and second in the AL East as the All-Star break nears.

Much of the turnaround for the Red Sox is due to Bogaerts, who will likely travel to Los Angeles as a member of the American League All-Star Team. He has hit just six home runs this season, but has recorded an .874 OPS and performed well according to defensive metrics.

As Boagerts becomes a free agent this fall, he probably won’t sign the same contract as Turner or Correa due to his age, but he will still be one of the best players on the market. He will almost certainly sign a contract with more than $200 million this fall.

Aaron Judge

Judge, like Correa, has dealt with injury issues in the past. Before this season the right fielder had only played more than 145 games twice in his career, but both times he was an MVP candidate.

As a result, when Judge turned down a 7-year, $213.5 million contract extension from the Yankees earlier this year, many were skeptical. So far this season, Judge has shown exactly why he made that decision.

The 30-year-old is having one of the best seasons of his career. He leads the MLB in home runs with 29, has played excellent defense in right field, is hitting the ball harder than almost anyone in the sport, and is an MVP candidate.

Judge’s decision to decline the Yankee’s offer has positioned him to enter the market as one of the best members of this year’s free agency class. He will compete with Turner and Correa to sign the biggest deal of any free agent this offseason.
Joe Musgrove
After being traded to the San Diego Padres ahead of 2021, Joe Musgrove has emerged as a potential leader of a pitching staff. His first season in San Diego saw him record a 3.18 ERA across 181.1 innings, and 2022 has been even better.

Musgrove will enter the market at 30, younger than fellow free agent Jacob Degrom, who is 34, and with fewer injury concerns than Carlos Rodon, who could opt out of his contract with the San Fransico Giants. Musgrove is a potential Cy Young candidate this season, and his 2.12 ERA would be the best of his career so far by more than a run, although his strikeout rate is the lowest it has been since 2019.

Now in his second consecutive season with excellent performance, Musgrove will be one of the best starting pitchers available this offseason. His last two seasons in San Diego have positioned him to become one of the highest-paid pitchers in baseball.

Jacob deGrom

It is hard to talk about the potential free agents this year without mentioning deGrom, who declared his intention to opt-out of his contract with the New York Mets prior to the season. DeGrom, 34, has yet to pitch in 2022.

Despite the fact that he hasn’t pitched this season, it is still likely that deGrom will enter free agency. Over the last few years, he has been the best pitcher in baseball, and he had one of the best ever three-year stretches from a starting pitcher in 2018, 2019, and 2020.

While deGrom, when healthy, is the best pitcher in baseball, the concerns about his durability have become hard to ignore. He started only 15 games in 2021 before missing the rest of the season due to an injury. This year he has yet to pitch since Spring Training due to a stress reaction in his shoulder.

Even with the injuries, deGrom is likely to enter free agency, and he would be smart to do so. Several teams will make attempts to sign him, and if he stays healthy he could remain one of the best pitchers in baseball throughout the course of his next contract.

 


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