Major League Baseball free agency has been moving at a snail’s pace this offseason, perhaps due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding its financial repercussions.
Sure, business has started to pick up a bit over the past couple of weeks, with George Springer and J.T. Realmuto — arguably the two best position players available on the open market — agreeing to lucrative contracts with the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies, respectively. But all in all, it’s been a slog, and some interesting names remain unsigned.
The Athletic’s Jim Bowden, a former MLB general manager, back in November predicted contracts for 25 of the league’s top free agents at the onset of the offseason. He also provided “best fits” for each.
More than half of those players still are available, so Bowden decided this week to revisit the list, taking into account what since has transpired across MLB and what he’s learned over the last three months.
The result? A new list, featuring the top 15 remaining MLB free agents, again with contract predictions and “best fits” for each.
The Boston Red Sox have been relatively busy of late, suggesting that perhaps their heavy lifting is done, especially if they intend to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold for 2021. Still, one shouldn’t completely rule out Chaim Bloom making another splash before Opening Day.
Bowden included the Red Sox among the “best fits” for three of his top 15 remaining free agents: Marcell Ozuna (No. 2), Trevor Rosenthal (No. 7) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (No. 14).
Signing Ozuna — Bowden’s second-ranked free agent remaining behind reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer — presumably would require the Red Sox to blow past the luxury tax threshold, unless they made corresponding moves to save money. Bowden projects a four-year, $72 million deal for Ozuna, a power-hitting outfielder coming off a huge season with the Atlanta Braves.
Rosenthal is the top reliever remaining, per Bowden, who predicts a two-year, $16 million contract for the 30-year-old right-hander. The relief market always is volatile — even more so this year with some teams being frugal — and it’s fair to wonder whether the former St. Louis Cardinals All-Star really is back to being a premier closer.
Then, of course, there’s Bradley, whom the Red Sox obviously are very familiar with and publicly have maintained interest in throughout the offseason. Bradley, drafted in 2011, has spent his entire career with Boston, providing stellar defense in the outfield. Bowden projects a three-year, $36 million deal, with the Phillies, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs also mentioned as potential suitors.