MLB Free Agents: Top 25 players up for grabs

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15: Zack Wheeler #45 of the New York Mets in action against the Los Angeles Dodgers during of a game at Citi Field on September 15, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15: Zack Wheeler #45 of the New York Mets in action against the Los Angeles Dodgers during of a game at Citi Field on September 15, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

The rise to prominence of several players during 2020 has intensified interest in this winter’s list of available MLB free agents.

If you are a major league front office executive or a player without a current contract, life is about to get extremely interesting.

On Monday, teams extended qualifying offers to 10 players. Those 10 now have 10 days to decide whether to accept or reject those offers. If they reject the offers, they become MLB free agents, and any team signing them loses a draft choice.

If recent history is any indication, the functional signing period is likely to continue virtually up to opening day. That may particularly be the case for the major free agent names, of which there are several this season.

That’s what happened last year with the top free agents, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Starter Dallas Keuchel and closer Craig Kimbrel lingered even longer, neither signing until June.

Until recently, the current free agent crop was being assessed as subpar. That perception, however, is changing with the 2019 accession to the stardom of several free agents, including Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole, Nicholas Castellanos, Jake Odorizzi, and Avisail Garcia. Keuchel, who finally signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves, is back on the market. So, for a third consecutive season, is third baseman Mike Moustakas, late of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Who are the top free agent prospects? What follows is an assessment of the pluses and minuses of 25 likely to draw the most, or the highest dollar, interest this winter. Some – like Cole, Rendon and Stephen Strasburg – are prime talents. Others are likely to be more of interest to bargain-basement shoppers willing to sign a bit older player who’s willing to sign for fewer years and/or less money.

The one quality all 25 share is the potential to help their new teams during the 2020 season.