In many ways, this offseason promises to be insane, but especially in the world of free agency. Future Hall of Famers, shortstop by all accounts, all those former Cubs players… well, there’ll be it all.
But these last weeks of the season, and what happens in October, will make a big difference for certain free agents. They will have the opportunity, down the stretch and in the postseason, to make clear why a team should invest in them. Have you heard the storytellers say things like, “Well, this guy can make a ton of money this month”? Here are the players who could really secure a hefty contract if they do well in the weeks ahead.
(The age they played the 2021 season is listed)
1) Javier Báez, SS / 2B, Mets (28 years old)
It is safe to say that Puerto Rican Javier Báez has had a tumultuous time with the Mets. But since the thumbs up / thumbs down controversy, he has been a fantastic player. He’s hitting .400 in September with a .745 slugging. Sure, he has just six walks (for 13 strikeouts) in that stretch, but that’s part of the whole package. Mets fans were upset that they had only seen the downside of having Baez on their team, but for the past month they’ve seen the bright side. Even if the Mets don’t make the postseason, Baez could rise through the ranks of all those shortstops who will be free agents and perhaps establish himself as a very smart firm.
2) Kris Bryant, 3B / OF, Giants (29)
Are there still people who remember that Bryant had a terrible 2020? The irony of Bryant’s well-known battle over his free-agent status is that if he had entered the market when he wanted, after his terrible 2020 campaign, rather than after this magnificent 2021, he probably would have secured less money than he will earn. now. If the Giants manage to hold onto the top of the NL West and avoid the Wild Card Game, Bryant could be their best position player in the postseason and enjoy enough opportunities to show stakeholders, once again, why. they can count on him in October. Unusually, waiting a year might be the best thing that ever happened to Bryant.
3) Nick Castellanos, OF, Reds (29)
Castellanos does not seem to be receiving much consideration for MVP, but it should be noted that he could end up leading the National League in batting average and total bases reached. Plus, it could help get your team into the postseason. That will be the key: Take the Reds to that NL Wild Card Game and maybe do something great once there. Jesse Winker, the Reds outfielder who accompanied him to the All-Star Game, has been injured, so it is Castellanos (along with Joey Votto) who has had to carry the team. It would be a spark plug for any team that signs him – presuming he gets out of his contract, which everyone thinks he will do – something that will become even more apparent if the Reds go far in the playoffs.
4) Carlos Correa, SS, Astros (26)
The Puerto Rican has finally been healthy and productive an entire season, and given his age, he could end up receiving the most lucrative contract of any free agent this winter. He has been a machine in the postseason in the past and he will have a chance to prove it again. Let’s not forget this: He hit gold in two consecutive October, 2019 and 2020.
5) Kevin Gausman, RHP, Giants (30)
Gausman quietly ran for the Cy Young Award for quite a while, but has lost steam in recent weeks, even though his team hasn’t slowed down. That 1.73 ERA in the first half went to 4.55 in the second half of the season (pending what he does on Thursday in his next start), although his strikeouts have risen. (Walks too, which could be part of the problem.) He is still presumed to be the Game 1 starter for the team with the best MLB record, putting him center stage. Nobody will care what happened in the second half if, in the postseason, he pitches like in the first.
6) Zack Greinke, RHP, Astros (37)
Greinke has pitched in only one World Series, 2019 with the Astros. A bit surprising, right? He’s been a part of some really good teams and pitched in a fantastic way by them, so you’d think he would have had at least one other shot at the Fall Classic. He has pitched for four different postseason teams – the Brewers, Dodgers, D-backs and Astros – during his 18-year career, with 19 starts in October and a respectable (if not dominant) 4.22 ERA. But he will do a few others in these playoffs, already established as a future Hall of Famer and potential No. 1 starter of a team that will be booed everywhere and will arrive determined to shut everyone up. Greinke has never had a Madison Bumgarner-style postseason, being the centerpiece of it all. Wow, that would be amazing if he succeeds this year.
7) Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers (27)
Corey Seager is one of the best shortstops ready to hit the free market and one way to remind everyone is that even though they traded a star like Trea Turner to their team, it was Turner who ended up moving to second base. Seager continues to do what he’s always done when he’s healthy, and while his health will be a concern to whoever signs him – they could still be the Dodgers – every game he plays is a reminder of how talented he is. And in case you forgot: He comes from being the MVP of the SCLN and the World Series, so he’s a proven talent in the postseason. The further the Dodgers go in October, the more Seager shines… and the more his bonuses go up.