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USATSI

The lockout continues to drag on, but there are at least signs of movement, with reports that the league and player's union will be meeting Thursday for the next proposal in the CBA negotiations. I'm not expecting the lockout to end anytime soon, but any momentum is positive at this point.

It would be nice to see that lockout end soon, of course, because the free agency pause that the lockout led to left a bunch of the biggest names in the sport without a team. If the lockout drags into March, we could see a scenario where the season starts just a few weeks after an agreement is reached, which would lead to a frantic dash to sign players before too much of spring training is over. That would make things tough for the players and for Fantasy managers prepping for their drafts.

So, let's see if we can get pre-prepped, so to speak. I went to the CBS Sports MLB Free Agent Tracker, took the top 10 unsigned players, and put them on the team that makes the most sense for them – and their Fantasy value. I tried to stick with realistic options – not everyone can or would sign with the Rockies, after all – and specifically teams that have been rumored to be interested in the players. 

We'll find out where these guys are signing, hopefully sooner than later, but for now, here's where I'd like to see the top free agents sign after the lockout ends, starting with big-time international free agent Seiya Suzuki, who is expected to make the leap to the majors this offseason:

 Seiya Suzuki – Team: Blue Jays

Nothing is guaranteed with any player making the leap from Japan to MLB, but there's a lot to like in Suzuki's profile. He's posted an OPS better than 1.000 in three of the past four seasons, with 351 walks to 359 strikeouts (a 16.4% rate). You wouldn't expect him to sustain those numbers in the majors, but a face-plant would be surprising – he's been a better hitter than the likes of Yoshi Tsutsugo or Shogo Akiyama were before they made the leap. The Blue Jays would let Suzuki use his speed on the basepaths, and while Rogers Centre is a pretty neutral offensive environment overall, it remains one of the best parks for homers in the majors. And the Blue Jays offense creates a lot of opportunities for counting stats. He could be what we've hoped Cavan Biggio would turn into. 

HOU Houston • #1 • Age: 27
Fantasy Breakdown
Team
Dodgers
Roto
69
Roto (SS)
11
H2H
63
H2H (SS)
6
2021 Stats
AVG
0.279
HR
26
R
104
RBI
92
SB
0
SO
116
The Dodgers have a Corey Seager-shaped hole in the lineup, and with questions about Max Muncy's health, they could really use another big bat. Correa feels like he has a bit of unrealized potential still, but the good news is he's played 93% of games the past two seasons, so hopefully he's put the injury concerns behind him. Correa remains a potential four-category superstar, and the Dodgers are one of the few landing spots available that wouldn't represent a downgrade on his situation in Houston.
SF San Francisco • #23 • Age: 30
Fantasy Breakdown
Team
Rockies
Roto
85
Roto (3B)
7
H2H
89
H2H (3B)
6
2021 Stats
AVG
0.265
HR
25
R
86
RBI
73
SB
10
SO
135
Anytime a player is linked to the Rockies, they're going to be the top landing spot for that player. We don't really have a lot of recent examples of the Rockies acquiring a high-end hitter in or near their prime recently, weirdly, with Ian Desmond being the biggest free agent contract they've given out in the past decade. That went very poorly, though injuries played a big part in that. The more promising example might be Michael Cuddyer, who joined the Rockies as a 33-year-old coming off a three-season stretch hitting .276/.341/.465; he hit .307/.362/.525 in three seasons with the Rockies despite his own injury issues. Bryant, 30, has hit .266/.360/.485 over the past three seasons, and I think I'd expect something like a .290 average and 35 homers from him playing half his games in Coors Field. At a shallow third-base position, he might be a top-five option.
ATL Atlanta • #5 • Age: 32
Fantasy Breakdown
Team
Yankees
Roto
11
Roto (1B)
2
H2H
9
H2H (1B)
2
2021 Stats
AVG
0.3
HR
31
R
120
RBI
83
SB
8
SO
107
Apologies to Scott White, our resident Braves fan, but between their World Series win and the Georgia Bulldogs' national championship win, you can live with the loss. Freeman isn't a player who needs a good park to be one of the best hitters in baseball, but moving to Yankee Stadium for half his games would be a boon. Freeman is darn near a perfect hitter, but if you had to identify one place he occasionally falls short of the elite tier, power is it. That wouldn't be a problem with Yankee Stadium's short right field; according to BaseballSavant, Freeman would have hit 95 home runs over the past three seasons playing at Yankee Stadium, compared to the 90 he actually hit. Freeman wouldn't necessarily see a massive increase in power numbers, but as he ages, landing in a better ballpark might help cover up for whatever slippage might be coming.
COL Colorado • #27 • Age: 29
Fantasy Breakdown
Team
Rockies
Roto
26
Roto (SS)
6
H2H
28
H2H (SS)
8
2021 Stats
AVG
0.251
HR
24
R
88
RBI
75
SB
20
SO
139
It's not even clear if there is mutual interest on a return engagement, but obviously, that's the ideal landing spot. Whether 2021's (relative) struggles were a sign of Story starting to slip or if the trade rumors swirling around him affecting him is a tough question to answer, but we know Coors can cover up for a lot of deficiencies in a hitter's skill set. Leaving Coors wouldn't make Story a non-entity in Fantasy, but he'd certainly need to drop down draft boards, so let's just hope for the status quo to reign.
CIN Cincinnati • #2 • Age: 29
Fantasy Breakdown
Team
Phillies
Roto
47
Roto (OF)
15
H2H
56
H2H (OF)
9
2021 Stats
AVG
0.309
HR
34
R
95
RBI
100
SB
3
SO
121
Castellanos enjoyed the breakout we've all been waiting for in 2021, but he did so in the very hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ballpark. To be clear, he wasn't a product of Cincinnati's home park, but it clearly helped. Per BaseballSavant, he would've hit more homers in GABP than anywhere else, but Philadelphia is one of just seven parks where his total wouldn't have been projected to fall, at least. Staying in a hitter-friendly park and likely hitting behind Bryce Harper would make for a pretty nice landing spot.
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #22 • Age: 33
Fantasy Breakdown
Team
Phillies
Roto
58
Roto (SP)
29
H2H
31
H2H (SP)
27
2021 Stats
INN
121.2
W
10
K's
144
ERA
3.55
WHIP
1.02
We know the Dodgers will limit Kershaw's innings, but that might not be the worst thing for him. We also know the Dodgers have a great support system in place for him to succeed, and that's the biggest thing for me. Kershaw probably won't ever be a big-time innings eater again, but he can still be a high-end per-inning contributor, and we know he's comfortable with the Dodgers and they can get the most out of him. Let's not mess with a good thing.
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #74 • Age: 34
Fantasy Breakdown
Team
Marlins
Roto
120
Roto (RP)
8
H2H
105
H2H (RP)
5
2021 Stats
INN
69
S
38
K's
86
ERA
2.22
WHIP
1.04
There really hasn't been much reported interest in Jansen at all this offseason, which is a bit surprising given his bounceback in 2021. The Dodgers don't seem likely to bring him back and the Phillies added Corey Knebel, taking one of the rumored suitors off the board, potentially. The Marlins have more pressing needs than closer – as a Marlins fan, I wouldn't be thrilled about spending this kind of money on one – but they're an up-and-coming team that figures to play in a lot of close games given their pitching staff, so it's not a bad landing spot for Jansen. There'd be zero competition.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #48 • Age: 32
Fantasy Breakdown
Team
Yankees
Roto
124
Roto (1B)
NR
H2H
94
H2H (1B)
10
2021 Stats
AVG
0.248
HR
22
R
73
RBI
61
SB
6
SO
87
Rizzo didn't quite take off the way we hoped he would when he got traded to the Yankees, but the park should still be arguably the best place for him to hit in the majors with that short right-field fence. It's a great lineup, too, and the Yankees have continued to be linked to Rizzo. Obviously, he's a consolation prize if they can't get Freeman, but it might be enough to make him a top-12 1B.
NYM N.Y. Mets • #30 • Age: 28
Fantasy Breakdown
Team
Marlins
Roto
114
Roto (OF)
NR
H2H
97
H2H (OF)
NR
2021 Stats
AVG
0.232
HR
14
R
52
RBI
55
SB
1
SO
104
This isn't the ideal landing spot, but it might be the only team that has been publicly linked to him right now. Marlins Park is closer to a neutral environment these days, but it still isn't a great place to hit. And it isn't a great offense to hit in. But, given that we're limiting ourselves to realistic or rumored places, this is our best option. Finding a multi-year deal may prove challenging for Conforto, so here's hoping we can find a better spot on a prove-it deal.