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 Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

Top 25 MLB Free Agents

Nos. 23 through 25

Cole Hamels (25) had a curious season for the Cubs, raising a question of whether he has reached the end of his career. Hamels, who will be 36 next season, was superb through July 1. In 17 starts he posted a 6-3 record with a sub. 3.00 ERA. But after sitting out July with an injury, Hamels returned to fumble through the season’s final two months.  In August and September, his 10 starts resulted in a 1-4 record and 5.79 ERA. So a team signing Hamels has to ask whether it’s signing the April-June pitcher or the August-September pitcher.

Will Smith (24) is near the top of the line among free-agent relievers. There are two drawbacks: He got a qualifying offer, costing any signing team a draft pick, and he’s 35. But age and experience are often attractions for a reliever, especially one not after a mega-closer deal. Smith was a standout in the Giants pen, going 6-0 with 34 saves in 63 appearances and making the All-Star team.  If Smith insists on a multi-year deal, that could be problematic to teams, given his age; but he’s at least worth talking to.

The Astros lost confidence in Wade Miley (23), so much so that they left him their post-season roster entirely. After a 13-4 record through August, Miley managed only 11 and one-third innings in five September starts, giving up 21 earned runs. That’s a 16.72 ERA.  There’s no reason to believe that Miley was injured, so his September collapse can probably be safely viewed as one of those weird stretches that a full off-season might fix. It certainly decreased his asking price, but that’s another good reason for a team seeking pitching help to go after him. How many teams are seeking pitching help? Basically all of them.