Just 365 days ago, the MLB free agent class featured some of the top names in the league. Aaron Judge, Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Willson Contreras and more all found themselves on the open market.
That’s without mentioning the infield class. Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson and Xander Bogaerts all found new homes.
It’s not that this year’s group is just not as exciting as the last. There truly is a massive lack of star power on the open market.
After previously taking a look at the top 10 free agent outfielders, let’s shift our focus to the infield. Gone are the Correas, Turners and Swansons; but we’re going to pick apart the group and see where the value lies in this year’s free agent class of infielders.
10. Amed Rosario, 2B/SS, 27
Rosario fell off a bit during the 2023 season. He didn’t strike out much, didn’t walk and was in the 95th percentile in Sprint Speed. At the plate, he had an OPS+ of 89 in 142 games split between the Guardians and Dodgers.
While there was a few red flags for Rosario, he still projects to be a sought-after piece this offseason. Rosario graded out well (3 DRS) in his first stint playing second base in the big leagues after being acquired by the Dodgers at the deadline.
Playing second long-term is probably the best course of action for Rosario’s career, but considering the lack of viable shortstops in this market, his days playing the position might not be done entirely.
Regardless, Rosario hits for a high average, has plenty of speed and brings some pop. About to turn 28 years old, Rosario might have some upside, but his floor is still around a replacement level big league middle infielder, for which teams could do a lot worse.
9. Carlos Santana, 1B, 37
Another player that was traded at the 2023 deadline, Santana is now a free agent for the third time. The switch-hitter once again showed off an exceptional eye at the plate and was one of the better defensive first basemen in the league. His 23 home runs and 87 RBI were both the most he’s had in a single season since all the way back in 2019.
Santana wasn’t included in MLBTR’s top 50 free agent predictions (not even as an honorable mention!), but there will surely be a market for him. While his age is getting up there, he remains a productive big leaguer that provides thump from both sides of the plate.
8. Gio Urshela, 3B, 32
This past year was an injury-shortened one for Urshela, but he still performed well in his 62-game showing for the Angels. Historically, he’s been an average fielder who swings a strong bat. Just last year, he had a 119 OPS+ with the Twins, so the 91 OPS+ he had in 2023 shouldn’t be overly concerning.
There are many teams in the market for a corner infielder (he also has experience at all three other infield spots) including the Diamondbacks, Tigers, Marlins, Blue Jays and Brewers. There’s little doubt that Urshela will be able to secure a low-cost, multi-year pact from one of these clubs.
7. Brandon Belt, 1B, 35
Belt, a two-time World Series Champ, just wrapped up his first (and likely only) season with the Blue Jays and it was a good one. He hit 19 home runs and had an OPS of .858 while sharing time at first base with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. His durability wasn’t perfect, but the 103 games he played were the most he’s had in a year since 2019.
Rumor has it that Belt is considering retirement this offseason. However, there’s also a possibility that he could be enticed with a one-year offer from a contender. Teams like the Angels, Cubs and Dodgers could use a designated hitter.
6. Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF, 34
Another former Blue Jay, Merrifield is a free agent for the first time in his successful career. The eight-year vet had a decent season in 2023 in which he was an All-Star for the third time. He fell off dramatically in the second half, but if teams buy in to his strong first half and lengthy track record, he shouldn’t have a problem getting paid this winter.
Clubs like the Dodgers, Twins, Orioles or White Sox could use a utilityman like Merrifield. He primarily plays second base but has extensive experience at all three spots in the outfield grass as well.
5. Justin Turner, 3B, 38
Turner will turn 39 years old in just a few days, but has showed no real signs of slowing down with age. This past year, he made it into 146 contests for the Red Sox and posted an impressive 114 OPS+ with 23 home runs and a career-high 96 RBI. He is an annual threat to top 20 home runs and 80~ runs a year while hitting no lower than .275.
Again, there are plenty of clubs that could use Turner in 2024. Third base is his primary position, so the Diamondbacks or Marlins could come calling. It’s worth noting that he also has recent experience at first and second base, so if he can bounce around while also spending time as a DH next year, he should be able to continue producing at high levels as he nears 40.
4. Tim Anderson, SS, 30
In Anderson’s case, we’re going more off of potential than what the results showed in 2023. He had well-documented struggles for Chicago last year and is undoubtedly more eager than you know to move forward. In 123 games, the two-time All-Star hit just .245 and was one of the weakest hitters in the game.
“TA” already has been linked to the Angels, who are reportedly interested in bringing him aboard as a second baseman. He’s never been a strong defender at short, so perhaps a move to second would be beneficial.
3. Jeimer Candelario, 3B, 29
Candelario spent the 2023 season on the Nationals and Cubs and was one of the more productive corner infielders in the league. In 140 games, he hit 22 home runs and drove in 70, both career-highs. His .807 OPS was also a full-season career-high and he was even a decent-but-not-great defensive third baseman.
Now a free agent for the second time in his career, Candelario appears to be in line for a nice payday. His ability to play both corner infield spots expands his market and many of the third base-hungry clubs will be eyeing him this offseason.
2. Rhys Hoskins, 1B, 30
Another pick based off of potential more than results. In Hoskins’s case, there were no results last year. Unfortunately, a freak injury in Spring Training ended his season before it even began.
While a missed season certainly hurts his value, Hoskins is still one of the best power hitters on the market and will be paid as such.
The Phillies felt like a strong fit, but the recent news that Bryce Harper will remain at first means the fit is gone. Look for clubs like the Blue Jays, Mariners, Angels, Cubs, Giants and Marlins to watch him closely.
1. Matt Chapman, 3B, 30
Easily the best defensive third baseman in the free agent pool, there will be a ton of teams chasing Chapman this winter. Fresh off of a year in which he hit 39 doubles and 17 home runs, Chapman is also now a four-time Gold Glove winner. He, like Merrifield, fell off in a big way as the season rolled on, but there are desperate teams in free agency that will pay the man.
In the early days of the offseason, the Diamondbacks and Yankees have already been tabbed as potential landing spots for him. It’s worth noting that the Blue Jays do not have an internal replacement for him, so a reunion shouldn’t be ruled out.