Top Infielder Free Agents: Superstar Shortstops Set the Market
When one door closes, another opens, as they say, and a week removed from the end of the season cues the beginning of free agency fun. Who will land where? Who will stay put? We will soon find out but before that, let’s look at some of the best FAs out there. Yesterday we looked at the top starting pitchers available, and we continue with the best infielders on the market.
MIN SS Carlos Correa
Carlos Correa could be rolling the dice in deciding to opt-out of a pretty cushy contract. The Twins shortstop walked away from $35.1 million for next season to hit open water. It looks like Correa wants to win now and doesn’t see that happening in Minnesota.
The former Houston Astro saw his numbers dip last season compared to his career year in 2021. Correa still hit .291, 22 home runs, 64 RBI, and 70 runs. While those numbers are respectable, they are a far cry from 26 homers, 92 RBI, and 104 runs just a year earlier with Houston.
The Chicago Cubs have already met with Correa’s agent, while the LA Dodgers and San Francisco Giants are also interested. While the 28-year-old may take a bit of a haircut, Correa will still likely get $30-$35 million.
NYY 1B Anth0ny Rizzo
With all eyes in the Bronx fixated on Aaron Judge’s free agency, another valuable bat just hit the market. Anthony Rizzo opted out of his $16 million contract, although the team is expected to extend a qualifying offer in the $20 million neighborhood.
Rizzo’s 32 home runs last season were his most since 2016, although his .224 batting average was his worst ever in an entire season.
The Houston Astros, San Francisco Giants, and San Diego Padres, who could lose Josh Bell, Will Myers, and Brandon Drury, could all use help at the not-so-hot corner.
SD 1B Josh Bell
The man who may see Rizzo replace him, Josh Bell, is another hot commodity on the open market. While his time in San Diego isn’t so memorable after hitting just .192, with three home runs and 14 RBI in 53 games, he did tear it up in Washington this year. In 103 games with the Nationals, Bell hit .301, 14 home runs, and 57 RBI. The switch hitter also hit 27 bombs in 2021.
Bell made $10 million this past season, split between the Nats and Pads, and will get a big bump this offseason. The former Pittsburgh Pirate could double his salary.
Along with the teams interested in Rizzo, the Toronto Blue Jays were said to be interested in Bell at last year’s trade deadline and desperately need a bat from the left side.
CHC C Willson Contreras
The best catcher on the market is far and above the rest of the backstop class. Willson Contreras was expected to be moved by the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline but, for some reason, was not dealt. Contreras finished in the top five among catchers with 22 home runs, adding 55 RBI and a .815 OPS. While the 30-year-old had a quiet second half, he is still king of the catchers this offseason.
The Houston Astros were said to be interested in acquiring Contreras at the trade deadline and is a possible landing spot. Contreras could also call Detroit home with the Tigers next season or settle in St. Louis with the Cardinals.
Don’t be surprised to see the veteran backstop get something in the $15-$20 million range, a handsome raise from his 2022 salary of just under $10 million.
LAD SS Trea Turner
Trea Turner might be the sultan of shortstops available, although the next entry on our list may have something to say about that. Turner was in the MVP conversation for much of the season after hitting .298 with 21 home runs, 100 RBI, 101 runs, and 27 stolen bases. The 29-year-old has proven himself as one of the best early lineup bats in the game and is still in his prime.
With a sales pitch from Don Draper hyping his worth, Turner will have no shortage of suitors. Draper, aka Jon Hamm, has cast his vote for Turner to come to his hometown team, the St. Louis Cardinals, by voicing said hype video. Can you imagine a lineup with Turner, Nolan Arenado, and Paul Goldschmidt?
Along with the Cards, the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies are interested, as are the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants. Of course, the Dodgers would like to keep their superstar shortstop.
While Turner’s 2022 salary was no joke at $21 million, he will get a substantial raise into the $30-$35 million range and could get as many as five years in term.
BOS SS Xander Bogaerts
Xander Bogaerts rounds out the trifecta of middle infielders on our list. Shortstop is undoubtedly where the deepest talent level lies in this free agent class. Bogaerts’s power numbers took a bit of a dip last season after hitting 15 home runs and 73 RBI. He did still top .300 and continued to reach base at an elite level.
The Boston Red Sox have said they want to keep their long-time shortstop, but a lowball four-year, $90 million earlier on may have tainted the waters.
Depending on where Trea Turner and Carlos Correa land and if they are signed before Bogaerts will change the shortstop landscape. Like Turner and Correa, the Phillies, Dodgers, Giants, and Cubs are interested in upgrading at short.
A hefty raise from the $20 million he would have gotten under his old contract is in order for the 30-year-old. While it will depend on who and what price sets the shortstop market, Bogaerts should pull in $30-$35 million a year.
CWS 1B Jose Abreu
The oldest player on this list is Jose Abreu, at 35. Much like his Chicago White Sox team, the slugging first baseman had a disappointing 2022. Abreu hit career lows with 15 home runs and 75 RBI last season despite a solid .304 batting average.
It appears Abreu may not need to rent a moving truck as the Chicago Cubs are said to be one of the most interested teams in the veteran righty. From same city rival to same division rival as the AL Central champion Cleveland Guardians are also said to be interested in Abreu. The San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers, and Seattle Mariners are also dipping their foot in the water.
While the aging slugger may extend his career at the DH spot, it’s pretty unlikely he will beat his $16+ 2022 salary. Abreu could clear $10 million, but his top earning days are behind him.
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