Predicting the top 10 MLB Free Agents’ landing spots

Four shortstops, home run king, starting pitchers aces find potential new homes

BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor

The offseason of any professional sports league is arguably more exciting than the actual play of the season. 

Fans and analysts both speculate where free agents will sign and what that will mean going into the next season and even its effect long-term. No matter how unlikely it is to properly predict the thought process of professional athletes and to truly know what they value the most in their free agency, it is always fun to think about potential landing spots for the top free agents. 

In 2022, several big names make up the MLB free agent class and today we will look at the top 10 and determine a couple of potential landing spots as well as the most likely in one humble sports reporter’s opinion. 

  1. OF Aaron Judge 

Potentially the greatest season ever produced by a position player in a contract season leads to the entire league bidding for the services of Judge. His 62 home runs and 10.6 wins above replacement set him to become one of the richest men in baseball. 

While he has expressed interest in returning to the Yankees, it is very clear that he will also be exploring his options and may very easily leave for greener pastures. 

The most likely spot for him to go if he were to leave is the Giants, also the Dodgers as they will never shy away from opening the checkbook to improve their team. 

Potential landing spots: Giants, Yankees, Dodgers, Mets, Cubs 

Where he will end up: Yankees

  1. SP Jacob deGrom

Although having injury scares will hurt the number of years that deGrom will garner in the open market, the average annual value that he will receive will surely break records for a pitcher. 

He is another player that has a high likelihood of returning to his former team, but two division rivals are close to stealing his services. 

On top of that he has directly expressed interest in signing with the Texas Rangers, a move that will send shockwaves across the league, Jon Heyman tweeted

Potential landing spots: Mets, Astros, Phillies, Braves, Rangers 

Where he will end up: Braves

  1. SS Trea Turner 

The third straight player that will conceivably return to his former employer is the best of a stacked shortstop free agent class. 

He has an elite bat and above-average defense and can be inserted into the top of the lineup for any team in the league. If needed, he can play serviceable defense at second base as well as in the outfield, but his primary position should be SS. 

Turner has been linked to returning to the Dodgers but is also friends with many members of the Phillies and is actively being recruited by former teammate Bryce Harper. 

Potential landing spots: Braves, Dodgers, Phillies, Cubs, Mariners 

Where he will end up: Phillies 

  1. SS Dansby Swanson

Swanson could be the biggest hit or miss in this free agent class. The AAV and longevity that he is requesting is a big risk for any team, but his leadership and recent production could easily make it worth it. 

It would a shame if in back-to-back offseasons the Braves lost franchise faces, although that is looking like a possibility. 

The Chicago Cubs will be big players for a SS and Swanson looks to be the perfect fit if they can match his contract demands. 

Potential landing spots: Braves, Mariners, Giants, Cubs, Red Sox 

Where he will end up: Cubs 

  1. SS Carlos Correa 

Correa bet on himself taking a contract with the Twins. While it was not a terrible season for the still-young athlete, he is certainly not the top dog in this year’s class. 

His landing spots are some of the most diverse of any player, including the Tigers and Orioles making their only appearances in the potential landing spots of any of the top 10 free agents. 

In 2022, he will finally get his long-term contract with the Orioles and will be the veteran presence the team needs to push into the playoffs. 

Potential landing spots: Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees, Orioles, Tigers 

Where he will end up: Orioles 

  1. SP Justin Verlander

Coming off a probable AL Cy Young award-winning season will lead to the aging right-hander receiving high interest on a short one to two-year high AAV deal.

It could be another Astros free-agent starting pitcher that leaves for the Bronx, coming after Gerrit Cole did so. The Angels and Rangers will also be in the market to improve their pitching corps and it is unclear what Verlander will be looking for to end his storied career. 

Potential landing spots: Yankees, Angels, Astros, Rangers, Blue Jays 

Where he will end up: Yankees

  1. SS Xander Bogaerts 

The fourth and final big SS on the market is the most interesting case. Where he ends up seems to be dependent on where the first three big fish sign. 

He could resign with his former team the Red Sox, head to the northside of Chicago if the Cubs strike out on the top three or could replace Turner on the Dodgers.

Bogaerts may not be the shiniest prize, but as a consolation prize, he is just about as good as it gets. 

Potential landing spots: Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Twins, Braves

Where he will end up: Dodgers 

  1. SP Carlos Rodón

Coming off a prove-it-one-year deal with the Giants, Rodón certainly proved his value.

The big concern with the lefty has always been his health, he proved that the concerns are in vain as he pitched a full season with 31 games started. 

Most of his landing spots see him returning to the American League and his fit would be perfect to be the co-ace of the Angels alongside Shohei Ohtani. 

Potential landing spots: Giants, Yankees, Cubs, Mets, Angels 

Where he will end up: Angels 

  1. OF Brandon Nimmo

Nimmo is an under-the-radar piece that is in the shadow of Judge. Several teams will be looking for the lefty to fill up a hole in the outfield but his landing spot may be a team already dealing with too much talent in his position.

If the Seattle Mariners let notable clubhouse leader Mitch Haniger walk, it would hopefully be to upgrade in skill by signing the former Met.  

Potential landing spots: Mets, Mariners, Rockies, Astros, Marlins 

Where he will end up: Mariners 

  1. C Willson Contreras 

By far the most talented catcher on the free agent market was expected to be moved at the trade deadline, but he finished out the season with the Chicago Cubs. 

Contreras is an offense-first catcher that will certainly be an upgrade for a majority of teams. 

Several potential spots include replacing Yadier Molina on division-rival St. Louis, heading to the Pacific Northwest to play for the Mariners or even making the Houston Astros even more deadly by upgrading their weakest position. 

Despite all the speculation, he is a Chicago Cub for life and the team should look to re-sign and build around the backstop long-term. 

Potential landing spots: Cubs, Mariners, Cardinals, White Sox, Astros 

Where he will end up: Cubs