After what has probably been the craziest offseason in baseball history from blockbuster trades, huge signings and a global pandemic, the baseball season is set to begin in a couple weeks. Even though this is no regular season, some of the league’s top players are approaching the end of their current contracts. Here’s where some of these players might end up next year.
Mookie Betts – OF
Without a doubt, Betts is the best player in this free agent class. Although he was just traded to Los Angeles, his contract ends after the shortened season. He’s turned down a $300 million deal with Boston, so it’ll be interesting to see some of the contracts that other teams propose knowing they can’t offer that money with no fan attendance. There’s 100 less games for him to prove he’s worth that much, but I don’t doubt he will. That being said, one of the only teams that has that money is the Dodgers, and they’re most likely going to be the favorite to re-sign their new star.
Prediction – Los Angeles Dodgers
JT Realmuto – C
Realmuto has emerged as one of the best catchers in the MLB over the last few years. After talks of signing a multi-year extension with Philadelphia were ruined by the virus, Realmuto expects to test free agency. With no fans, most contacts are going to be much less money than normal. Tampa Bay needs a catcher to play 140-150 games, and Realmuto would be a perfect addition to their powerful lineup.
Prediction – Tampa Bay Rays
Trevor Bauer – SP
While this is all speculation based on what different teams need, there is one team we can almost be sure Bauer isn’t signing with. The Cincinnati Reds. This is his current team, but he’s made it clear he only wants to sign one-year contracts for the rest of his career, and not with the same team. With that in mind, the Athletics could make an offer and use him as a rental. This is a team looking to make a deep playoff push now, so knowing you’re only getting a year out of him doesn’t have a lot of risk involved.
Prediction – Oakland Athletics
Marcus Semien – SS
Here’s someone that is in the conversation for most underrated player in the MLB. Quietly coming in third in American League MVP last year, Semien has become one of the best defensive players in the game. The Giants could really use some help in their middle-infield, as an injury to Brandon Crawford would be devastating for them. Bringing in Semien would add to the much needed infield depth, and an added bonus for him not having to move from his home in Alameda.
Prediction – San Francisco Giants
George Springer – OF
If any team is going to bid on a right fielder, Mookie Betts will be their first choice. For all the teams that lose out on the former MVP, Springer is the next best option. Even at age 31, Springer continues to produce on an all-star caliber level. Boston recently acquired Alex Verdugo as their RF in the Betts trade, but they’ll lose Jackie Bradley Jr. after the season. Putting Springer at center would be a smart move, and he’s significantly less money than the last Red Sox right fielder. Their lineup is still one of the best in the league, and adding Springer would only make it worse for opposing AL East pitchers.
Prediction – Boston Red Sox
Marcell Ozuna – OF
The new universal DH will be an interesting aspect of the short season. The Braves will most likely utilize Ozuna as theirs, since his defense isn’t great and they have a solid outfield core. Pittsburgh could really use a power bat in their lineup, the only team that hit less homers last year were the Marlins. Ozuna would be a massive help in the very hitter-friendly PNC Park.
Prediction – Pittsburgh Pirates
DJ LeMahieu – SS
Last year, LeMahieu put up MVP level numbers. He was a large part of the Yankees playoff run, and was definitely beneficial for the young guys like Gleyber Torres to be around. The problem for the Yankees is their lack of depth in the middle-infield. They have no one besides Torres to play second or short. New York won’t ever have a money problem, so there is no harm in paying LeMahieu to stay around.
Prediction – New York Yankees
Kirby Yates – RP
Yates played exceptionally well last year, making his first All Star Game. He’s expressed interest in staying in San Diego, but it’s unlikely they’ll offer a lot of money with what they’re paying Drew Pomeranz and no ticket revenue. The Tigers are in the middle of their rebuild, and adding Yates will take pressure off their younger pitchers coming up like Casey Mize and Matt Manning.
Prediction – Detroit Tigers
Photo credit: David J. Phillip/AP