Ranking the Top 10 Potential 2024–25 MLB Free Agents

Next year's free agent class will feature plenty of great starting pitching, some top bats, as well as a generational talent in Juan Soto.

Juan Soto and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees talk during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Juan Soto #22 and Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees talk during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 20, 2024 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by New York Yankees/Getty Images)

Gleyber Torres, Willy Adames, Anthony Santander, Max Scherzer, Rhys Hoskins, Clay Holmes, Max Kepler and Justin Verlander can all become free agents after the 2024 season, and yet none were able to crack our list of the top potential free agents for next winter.

That should give you an idea of how many talented players — particularly starting pitchers — can become free agents after this coming season. And we aren’t even counting reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Gerrit Cole, who’s opt-out clause can be voided if the New York Yankees agree to add a 10th year to his contract at $36 million in 2029, which we would suggest they are nearly certain to do barring another arrangement being reached in the meantime.

In any event, here’s our first look at the top 10 potential MLB free agents for the 2024-25 offseason.

No. 10: Ha-Seong Kim, INF

2023 Stats: .260/.351/.398, 17 home runs, 60 RBIs, 75 walks, .749 OPS, 4.4 fWAR

Ad – content continues below

Age in 2025 Season: 29

For as much of a disaster as the 2023 San Diego Padres were, Kim was one of baseball’s better overall players.

Kim drove in 60 runs for the Padres last season, while also drawing 75 walks and stealing 38 bases. His real value, though, lies in his defensive flexibility, as he’s capable of being an elite defender at any of second base, shortstop and third base. Kim won a Gold Glove in 2023, posting 16 defensive runs saved and nine outs above average between the three defensive positions.

New Padres skipper Mike Shildt has decided to have Kim play shortstop on a full-time basis in 2024, with Xander Bogaerts shifting to second base in just the second year of an 11-year contract. That gives you an idea of how highly Kim is thought of defensively.

The 28-year-old has become a fan-favorite in San Diego in three seasons since coming over from South Korea. But between the passing of late-owner Peter Seidler and the loss of local TV revenue as part of the Diamond Sports Group fiasco, the Padres have cut payroll this offseason. They may like to keep Kim beyond 2024, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s elsewhere in 2025, if not sooner.

No. 9: Shane Bieber, RHP

2023 Stats: 6-6, 3.80 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 107 strikeouts, 128 innings pitched, 2.1 fWAR

Ad – content continues below

Age in 2025 Season: 30

Bieber was arguably the best pitcher in baseball between 2019 and 2020, and put together another strong campaign in 2022, posting a 2.88 ERA and 2.87 FIP over 200 innings. However, there are enough concerning trends that we’re a little skeptical of betting on Bieber as he approaches his contract year.

A right shoulder strain limited Bieber to just 96 2/3 innings pitched in 2021, while the former AL Cy Young Award winner logged only 128 innings in 2023 because of right elbow inflammation.

What’s more, Bieber’s average fastball velocity in his Cy Young season of 2020 was 94.3 mph, as opposed to 91.6 in 2023. Bieber finished the pandemic-shortened 2020 season with 14.20 K/9, significantly higher than the 7.52 K/9 he posted in 2023.

Bieber has still be an effective pitcher when he’s been on the mound over the last three seasons, which would make him a popular trade target if the Cleveland Guardians sell this summer.

But there’s a big difference between committing to a pitcher for a few months, as opposed to signing them for five or six years. From here, it wouldn’t be surprising if Bieber’s market doesn’t develop how he hopes next winter.

Ad – content continues below

No. 8: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

2023 Stats: .268/.363/.447, 25 home runs, 80 RBIs, 87 walks, .810 OPS, 3.7 fWAR

Age in 2025 Season: 37

Given that he’s 36 years old, Goldschmidt’s 2024 performance will determine his market as much as anyone on this list. If there are signs of decline from the seven-time All-Star, teams will be understandably hesitant to commit multiple years to him moving forward, especially with the possibility that the aforementioned Hoskins and Pete Alonso — more on him in a second — are also free agents at the position next winter.

But Goldschmidt was the NL MVP in 2022, and while he didn’t match that level of production in 2023, he still did alright for himself — hitting 25 home runs, driving in 80 runs and posting an .810 OPS. The four-time Gold Glover continues to be someone that is more than capable of handling first base defensively, with three defensive runs saved and three outs above average in over 1,100 innings at the position a year ago.

St. Louis bolstered their starting rotation this offseason, adding Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson in free agency. They hope that will allow them to rebound from a disappointing 71-91 record a year ago.

If not, though, it will be interesting to see how president of baseball operations John Mozeliak proceeds with a team loaded with players in their 30s.

Ad – content continues below

Nolan Arenado is under contract through the 2027 season, so he probably won’t be traded. But would the Cardinals — knowing they probably need to retool — be willing to listen to offers on their 36-year-old first baseman who is about to become a free agent?

That seems much more plausible, and it could allow a contending team to add the future Hall of Fame first baseman for the pennant run this summer.

No. 7: Walker Buehler, RHP

2022 Stats (missed all of 2023): 6-3, 4.02 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 58 strikeouts, 65 innings pitched, 1.0 fWAR

Age in 2025 Season: 29

Buehler is a great friend of the Just Baseball family, and we’ll acknowledge that up front.

The reality here is that if Buehler had reached the free-agent market a couple offseasons ago, he likely would have been looking at a $200+ million deal, at minimum. But his second career Tommy John surgery forced him to miss the entirety of the 2023 season, and it doesn’t appear he’s going to be in the starting rotation to open the 2024 season as he continues to work his way back.

Ad – content continues below

If the flame-throwing version of Buehler returns, he’s going to have a robust market next offseason, even with the concerns that come with someone who has had multiple Tommy John surgeries.

Buehler is young enough that he could very well accept the qualifying offer next winter or take a short-term deal that allows him to get back to the market if he returns to being a workhorse in the second half of 2024 and all of 2025. That may be his best path forward.

As far as 2024 goes, the Dodgers project to have one of the greatest lineups ever assembled. But having a full-strength Buehler may determine whether they have enough pitching to compete deep into October this season.

No. 6. Max Fried, LHP

2023 Stats: 8-1, 2.55 ERA, 3.14 FIP, 80 strikeouts, 77 2/3 innings pitched, 1.9 fWAR

Age in 2025 Season: 31

We probably don’t talk enough about just how good Fried has been since the start of the 2020 season, as he’s 43-15 with a 2.66 ERA and 3.03 FIP over the last four regular seasons. When you consider that Fried is a three-time Gold Glove Award winner, it would be fair if someone thinks he isn’t ranked highly enough on the list.

Ad – content continues below

What we would counter with is that next winter has a chance to be a special free-agent class in terms of pitchers, and it’s pretty notable that Fried is above both Bieber and Buehler.

Additionally, a year ago, Fried had two injured list stints, one because of a left forearm strain and the other due to a blister on his left index finger. He logged 185 1/3 innings pitched in 2022, when he finished second in NL Cy Young Award voting. But that’s the only season on Fried’s resume where he’s pitched over 170 innings in the regular season.

Fried could benefit from pitching 180+ innings in 2024 before he hits the open market. It also wouldn’t hurt him if he has some success for the Atlanta Braves in the postseason, considering he’s struggled in October baseball in his career, with a 4.57 ERA in 65 postseason frames.

Also worth noting here — the Braves re-sign players on their own terms, or they don’t re-sign them.

Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley and Matt Olson are among those who signed team-friendly deals and will be part of the extended future in Atlanta. Freddie Freeman, Dansby Swanson and Josh Donaldson wanted market value for their services, and president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos allowed those stars to walk in free agency. Which group will Fried fit into?

No. 5: Pete Alonso, 1B

2023 Stats: .217/.318/.504, 46 home runs, 118 RBIs, 65 walks, .821 OPS, 2.8 fWAR

Ad – content continues below

Age in 2025 Season: 30

Baseball observers have wisely evolved to understand that RBIs probably aren’t the first metric you should look at to determine a player’s offensive value, because a player can’t control whether they come up in a situation with ducks on the pond or not.

However, it’s possible that we’ve swung a little too far in not valuing being able to convert on chances to drive runs in. Ultimately, the best players still take advantage of run-producing opportunities. And among those in the sport currently, Alonso is absolutely one of the top run producers the game has to offer.

Since entering the league in 2019, Alonso leads baseball in both RBIs (498) and home runs (192). It’s hard to argue with that type of production, especially if Alonso is hitting in the middle of a lineup where players consistently get on base in front of him, like the New York Mets had in 2022.

New Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns has acknowledged that Alonso — who is one of many players on this list represented by Scott Boras — will likely reach the free-agent market.

Alonso has indicated he would like to remain with the Mets, but if New York is only on the outskirts of playoff contention this summer, could they consider trading the slugger in advance of the July 30 trade deadline?

Ad – content continues below

In theory, Alonso could be traded for a nice return, and then owner Steve Cohen could still flex his financial muscle and place the highest offer on the table in front of Alonso in free agency next winter.

No. 4: Alex Bregman, 3B

2023 Stats: .262/.363/.441, 25 home runs, 98 RBIs, 92 walks, .804 OPS, 4.3 fWAR

Age in 2025 Season: 31

Bregman may never be able to match his 2019 season, when he hit 41 home runs, drove in 112 runs and posted a 1.015 OPS en route to finishing runner-up to Mike Trout in AL MVP voting. But he remains a tremendous player, one with a lengthy postseason track record that will likely be of interest to teams looking to get over the hump in October.

After injuries limited him to 133 of a possible 222 games between the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Bregman has posted just about every day over the past two seasons, playing in 316 of Houston’s 324 regular-season games.

Over that period, he’s delivered All-Star caliber offensive production, slashing .261/.365/.447 with 191 RBIs and an .812 OPS. He also posted a .948 OPS during the team’s 2022 playoff run, which culminated in the franchise’s fourth AL pennant and second World Series title in a six-year span.

Ad – content continues below

One would think the Astros would be hell-bent on making sure Bregman — the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft — spends the entirety of his career in Houston. But the Astros recently signed franchise icon Jose Altuve to a five-year, $125 million extension, and also have to consider that two-time All-Star Kyle Tucker can become a free agent after the 2025 season.

If you read between the lines, the Astros seem to believe that there’s a real chance 2024 will be Bregman’s final season with the team.

Certainly, there will be some fanbases that aren’t excited about the possibility of signing Bregman given his ties to the team’s 2017 sign-stealing scandal.

We’re not saying that the cheating scandal should be whitewashed, but the second Bregman puts on another jersey, those fans will quickly change their tune about him. He’s already had a tremendous career, and is going to have a compelling case for Cooperstown one day.

No. 3: Zack Wheeler, RHP

2023 Stats: 13-6, 3.61 ERA, 3.15 FIP, 212 strikeouts, 192 innings pitched, 5.9 fWAR

Age in 2025 Season: 35

Ad – content continues below

Wheeler and the Philadelphia Phillies have expressed mutual interest in extending their relationship beyond the 2024 season, so this may prove to be a moot point. But until Wheeler is under contract beyond this upcoming campaign, he has to be among the top names on this list.

In parts of five seasons with the Mets, Wheeler was a pitcher that flashed front-line potential, but didn’t achieve it on a consistent basis. When Wheeler became a free agent following the 2019 season, the Phillies bet that he had only scratched the surface of his potential, signing him to a five-year, $118 million contract.

That deal has turned out to be laughably team-friendly, as Wheeler leads all pitchers in fWAR (19.3) since the start of the 2020 season, while having logged the fourth-highest total of innings pitched (629 1/3) over that same period.

On top of that, Wheeler has become one of this era’s greatest postseason pitchers over two consecutive deep playoff runs by the Phillies. The pitcher who the Mets once wouldn’t pay for to travel with the team while he was injured during the team’s 2015 run to the World Series has a 2.42 ERA and 0.73 WHIP in 63 1/3 postseason innings with the Phillies.

There’s always a risk of a power pitcher hitting a wall as his mid-30s approach, but it’s difficult to imagine the Phillies letting someone who increasingly looks like one of the better pitchers in the history of their franchise walk in free agency.

If Wheeler does hit the open market, there will be plenty of suitors interested in him on a three or four-year deal next winter.

Ad – content continues below

No. 2: Corbin Burnes, RHP

2023 Stats: 10-8, 3.39 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 200 strikeouts, 193 2/3 innings pitched, 3.4 fWAR

Age in 2025 Season: 30

Burnes narrowly edged out Wheeler in the 2021 NL Cy Young Award race, and by virtue of being half a decade younger, he again sneaks by his worthy opponent on this list.

There were some old-school voters frustrated that Burnes won the 2021 NL Cy Young Award despite not throwing any complete games and only logging 167 innings pitched, nearly 50 less than Wheeler’s league-leading 213 1/3 that year.

But in the two seasons since, Burnes has recorded two more top-eight finishes in NL Cy Young Award voting, while pitching 395 2/3 innings pitched, the seventh-most among all starting pitchers.

The Baltimore Orioles acquired Burnes in a February megadeal with the the Milwaukee Brewers, which should make them legitimate World Series contenders in 2024.

Ad – content continues below

In the event that the Orioles disappoint this year, it will be interesting to see if general manager Mike Elias considers flipping Burnes before he reaches free agency. Or will a new ownership group authorize Elias offering a monster contract to Burnes that the predecessors would have balked at?

No. 1: Juan Soto, OF

2023 Stats: .275/.410/.519, 35 home runs, 109 RBIs, 132 walks, .930 OPS, 5.5 fWAR

Age in 2025 Season: 26

Not since Manny Machado and Bryce Harper became free agents following the 2018 season has there been such an accomplished player to reach the open market at this young of an age. And while Machado and Harper likely will one day have plaques in Cooperstown, Soto might end up having an even better career than those two.

As he enters his first season with the New York Yankees, Soto is already a four-time Silver Slugger Award winner, who has led the sport in walks three straight seasons. And now he’ll get to play 81 home games at Yankee Stadium.

Soto’s ability to hit the ball to left-center field plays in any stadium, and the short porch in right field might allow him to surpass 40 home runs in a season for the first time in his career.

Ad – content continues below

Soto is represented by Boras, so he’ll almost certainly test free agency next offseason. But if him and Aaron Judge in the same lineup goes as well as seemingly everyone thinks it will, it’s hard to imagine that the Yankees won’t ultimately re-sign Soto. Certainly, George Steinbrenner wouldn’t have let anyone outbid him for the right to employ Soto during what should be his peak years.