Before we fully analyze the free agent rankings for this 2021-22 Major League Baseball offseason, we mention some important elements that will provide context for next year’s projections:
I have classified players according to the amount of guaranteed money that I believe will be offered to them and in all but a few cases, the amount for which I believe they will sign. You will find some players who I believe will reject contracts guaranteed for one year and amounts close to $ 50 million, in situations where they would be forced to re-prove their conditions.
The most important point to take into account is the imminent expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, scheduled for December 1st. I think that, in the best of cases, one or two pacts will be signed, tentatively reaching nine figures. Hopefully the most important contracts will be finalized in January, although the most likely seems to be February or March. Thanks to the new economic reality, we will see more speculation than ever for such cases.
We perceive a probability of at least 90% that the new Collective Agreement includes the figure of the Universal Designated Hitter, which would help current and future Designated Hitters, along with several third basemen and first basemen with mediocre defensive conditions: for example, Nelson Cruz, JD Martinez, Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, Avisail García, among others.
The pandemic gave team owners a perfect excuse to cut management staff and limit expenses, both on and off the field. I have already heard first-hand accounts from people linked to multiple teams in major markets who claim to have ample resources, due to good attendance rates and / or having made it far to the playoffs. Team owners of a competitive nature can’t help but spend the money they have. Some teams little known for their willingness to invest (Detroit, Seattle) and others with ample resources in their accounts (San Francisco) are also ready to spend. Indicators suggest that the top and middle lines of the market could be in better financial health than many expect: the comments I have heard from sources linked to the clubs speak of adjustments higher than my initial forecasts.
Here is my list of the top 50 free agents available this winter, with projected contract numbers for each player.
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