Shohei Ohtani headlines top 7 MLB free agents this offseason


Eras will be coming to an end this offseason as the Major League Baseball free agency is once again stacked.

There’s no need to keep anyone waiting – the obvious biggest star on the market is Shohei Ohtani, and we’ll dive into how many millions he realistically can make this winter (it’s a lot).

But outside the two-way superstar, there is a ton of talent that is available for purchase for all 30 MLB teams.

Here are the top seven MLB free agents this offseason.

Honorable mentions

Jordan Montgomery was thought of as nothing more than a middle-of-the-pack guy for the first six and a half years of his career. But when he was traded to the Texas Rangers, he found something. In his 11 regular season starts with the AL champions, his ERA was 2.79, and in six postseason appearances, it was 2.90. He may have earned himself a few million dollars with his postseason.

Rhys Hoskins

Now that the Phillies have committed to Bryce Harper playing first base full-time, it looks like Hoskins’ time there is over.

Hoskins was a consistent power threat in the heart of the Phillies order for years, and he was poised for yet another big season in 2023 following an NL pennant. However, he tore his ACL in spring training and missed the season.

The first baseman, though, will be fully recovered by the time this upcoming spring rolls around – he even was briefly considered to play in this past postseason.

In the three seasons he’s played over 150 games, he’s hit 34, 29 and 30 home runs (he hit 27 in 109 games in 2019). Coming off a torn ACL and turning 31 before Opening Day doesn’t scream a crazy contract, but power always comes with a price.

Cody Bellinger

Bellinger’s career has been a wild roller coaster. He was the unanimous NL Rookie of the Year in 2017 when he hit 39 homers. Two years later, he won the MVP, and in 2020, he was a World Series champion.

But for some reason, 2021 and 2022 were miserable. In those two seasons, he combined to hit .193 with a .611 OPS, and the Dodgers released him. Bellinger signed a one-year prove-it deal with the Chicago Cubs, and he became one of their most reliable players.

The power he once held was not there, as he hit just 26 homers compared to the 47 he hit in 2019, but he hit a career-high .307 and drove in 97 runs for a Cubs team that not many expected to be in the postseason conversation.

So, the conversation surrounding Bellinger really is, what is he? It’s pretty safe to say he’s not the 2017-2019 version of himself anymore. But is he the automatic out he was in 2021 and 2022? Not if last season has anything to do with it.

It’s understandable if teams proceed with caution with Bellinger, but with last season, he earned himself several years on a contract.

Blake Snell

Snell is likely going to win his second Cy Young Award next week and is hitting the free-agent market for the first time. 

Josh Hader

There probably is not a more overpowering pitcher in all of baseball than Hader. He’s been selected to each of the last five All-Star Games, and since entering the league in 2017, his 648 strikeouts and 15.0 K/9 are the best marks among all relievers. In fact, Hader is the only pitcher in the history of baseball who has appeared in 300-plus games and struck out 15.0 batters per nine innings.

He pitched to a 1.28 ERA this past season, which is insane for a reliever, as their ERAs can easily be inflated with just a couple of bad appearances. That didn’t happen with Hader – out of his 61 games with the Padres, he allowed an earned run in just six of them: four of them with one, and two with two.

The three largest contracts given to relievers are Edwin Diaz’s $102 million from last year, Aroldis Chapman’s $86 million in 2017, and Kenley Jensen’s $80 million the same year as Chapman’s. It should surprise nobody if the record books are rewritten.

Shohei Ohtani

We saved the best for last.

Ohtani is probably the most coveted free agent not only just this year, but ever. Ever since joining the Los Angeles Angels from Japan before the 2018 season, dubbed as the Japanese Babe Ruth, he has been beyond as advertised.

In his career, he’s pitched to a 3.01 ERA, striking out 11.4 batters per nine innings with a WHIP of 1.08. Those numbers rank 10th, seventh and 10th in the majors (min. 400 IP) since he joined the majors. On offense, he has a .922 OPS, the seventh-highest since the start of the 2018 season.

If it weren’t for Aaron Judge‘s race for a Triple Crown while beating Roger Maris for the most home runs in a single season by an American League player in 2022, Ohtani would be winning his third consecutive MVP next week. This past season, he led the majors with a .654 slugging percentage and 1.066 OPS, his .412 on-base percentage was second, his 44 homers were fourth, and his .304 average was ninth. He also pitched to a 3.14 ERA with an 11.4 K.9.

Here’s the pause, though: Ohtani will not pitch at all in 2024 as he has undergone Tommy John surgery a second time.

However, he might be the best hitter in baseball, and he’s also one of the best pitchers in the game. So, it’s hard to imagine that teams will try to play chess in their negotiations.

It’s been discussed that Ohtani could not only become the first person to sign a $500 million contract, but he even could go for $600 million. That may be a pipe dream, but right now, Ohtani is still likely to ink the richest deal in baseball history.

The post Shohei Ohtani headlines top 7 MLB free agents this offseason appeared first on Fox News.

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