Getty Images

The 2023-24 MLB offseason is several weeks old and chances are we've already seen the biggest trade (Juan Soto). We've definitely seen the biggest free agent signing (Shohei Ohtani). Japanese righty Yoshinobu Yamamoto should sign fairly soon, then hopefully the rest of the market will heat up.

Beyond the top 10 or so names, this offseason's free-agent class was pretty thin, both in terms of star power and depth. It could have been a much deeper class, particularly in high-end position players, had several players not opted for long-term security early in the careers, and signed long-term contracts that kept them off the free agent market.

These days, many young players sign long-term extensions and trade their maximum earning potential through arbitration and free agency for financial security early in their careers. I don't blame them one bit. I'd do the same thing. It does, however, mean these players aren't hitting free agency when they typically should, taking a bite out of the offseason.

It takes six years of service time to quality for free agency, but given the way teams manipulate service time, it often takes closer to seven years. Braves lefty Max Fried, Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander, and Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres are among the players who fall less than a month short of the six years necessary to become free agents this offseason.

Thirteen players reached the six years of service time necessary to qualify for free agency during the 2023 season but had already signed extensions early in their careers, so they are not free agents this offseason. Here they are ranked in a fantasy world where they hit the market this offseason anyway.

2023-24 MLB offseason: Ranking players who would've been free agents
Rafael Devers Boston Red Sox 3B

Contract: 11 years, $331 million (signed January 2023)

After trading Mookie Betts and letting Xander Bogaerts leave in free agency, it felt like Red Sox ownership and then-chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom had little choice but to sign Devers long-term. The star third baseman, who turned only 27 in October, was coming off a 42-double, 27-homer, .879 OPS season in 2022. Sure, concerns about his defense exist, but hitters as good and as young as Devers are rare, and the Red Sox paid handsomely to keep him in Boston.

What would he get this offseason? Pretty much exactly his extension. Technically it's a 10-year, $313.5 million extension tacked onto the one-year, $17.5 million contract that was already in place for 2023. Devers had something of a down season this year, which means he was merely All-Star caliber rather than MVP caliber. Still, his youth and pedigree would have made him the No. 1 position player available this offseason. Devers would have been a $300 million free against this offseason. No doubt about it.

Ozzie Albies Atlanta Braves 2B

Contract: 7 years, $35 million plus two club options (signed April 2019)

Albies is one of the most criminally underpaid players in the game. Yes, $35 million is a lot of money, and yes, Albies did agree to the contract, but it is so far below his actual value that is almost laughable. The soon-to-be 27-year-old swatted 33 home runs this year and posted his fourth 3 WAR season (and third 4 WAR season) in his last five 162-game seasons. Add in strong defense and Albies would have been one of the most sought-after players in free agency this offseason. Instead, the Braves have him under control through 2027 and will never pay him more than $7 million in a season. Geez.

What would he get this offseason? Given his age and production at an up-the-middle position, Albies would have been well positioned to land a contract along the lines of his former double play partner: Dansby Swanson. Swanson got seven years and $177 million last offseason. I reckon Albies could have pushed that up to eight years and $200 million given the lack of quality middle infielders in free agency.

Matt Olson Atlanta Braves 1B

Contract: 8 years, $168 million plus one club option (signed March 2022)

The Braves acted quickly and decisively when it became clear they would not re-sign Freddie Freeman. They traded for Olson and immediately locked the Georgia native up to a big long-term contract. He set a new franchise record with 54 home runs this year. Olson turns 30 in March, and while he is a superlative defender, first basemen no longer get monster nine- and 10-year contracts like Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols back in the day. That said, Olson is a prime-aged slugger with 50-homer power. Those guys don't exactly become available every offseason.

What would he get this offseason? When Freeman became a free agent, he was two years older than Olson is now, though he had the greater track record, and the more valued skill set given his elite combination of contact and power. The Dodgers gave Freeman six years and $162 million. I think Olson could have beaten that and gotten seven years because he is younger, but Freeman's contract is a good benchmark for Olson.

Luis Castillo Seattle Mariners SP

Contract: 5 years, $108 million plus one option (signed September 2022)

The rare September extension. Most contract extensions are signed during spring training or in the early days of the regular season. Very rarely do they get done that late in the season. Anyway, the Mariners traded for Castillo at the 2022 deadline and didn't wait long to sign him long-term. He almost never misses a start and he has consistently struck out more than a batter an inning. Castillo turns 31 in December, which is more the typical free-agent age than a highly valued 20-something. Still, Castillo is one of the best pitchers in the game and would have been paid accordingly.

What would he get this offseason? Carlos Rodón set the market at six years and $162 million last offseason, and Castillo comes with far less injury concerns than Rodón. I see Castillo as a notch above this year's top MLB free-agent pitchers, meaning Jordan Montgomery, Aaron Nola, and Blake Snell. Whatever those guys get, Castillo likely would have commanded a little more.

Tyler Glasnow Tampa Bay Rays SP

Contract: 2 years, $30.35 million (signed August 2022)

Glasnow signed his extension when he was nearing the end of his Tommy John surgery rehab, and the contract gave him a nice payday at a time when his health and future was uncertain. He missed more time with an oblique injury in 2023 and was very good when healthy. That's kind of the Tyler Glasnow story. He's really good when healthy but staying healthy has been a challenge (to be fair, that applies to basically all Rays pitchers). Glasnow turns 31 next summer and he offers ace upside, yet to some extent he is still more potential than performance. Of course, teams would have been willing to pay handsomely for that potential this offseason.

What would he get this offseason? Glasnow now has some similarities to Zack Wheeler when he became a free agent. Wheeler offered ace upside and top of the line stuff, and also a worrisome injury history that kept the offers down. His five-year, $118 million contract has since become not just a bargain, but one of the greatest free agent pitcher signings in history. Five years at $25 million a pop seems reasonable for Glasnow, and I think he would have been more likely to beat that than fall short.

Ryan McMahon Colorado Rockies 3B

Contract: 6 years, $70 million (signed March 2022)

Say what you want about the Rockies, but they are willing to open their wallet. They had a $172 million payroll in 2023. Did you know that? McMahon still has not managed a 100 OPS+ season (i.e. league average), though that has as much to do with the wonky park factors for Coors Field than his lack of production. He's a high strikeout 20-homer bat who is vulnerable to lefties, though McMahon is also a very good defender at third base. In some ways, he's a mirror image of Matt Chapman. Great glove, some power, lots of strikeouts. Only McMahon does it on the heavy side of the platoon.

What would he get this offseason? Although he turns only 29 next month, I don't think McMahon would have cracked $100 million this offseason. There are just too many strikeouts (especially when they come with "only" 20-ish homer power) and, fairly or unfairly, Rockies hitters face questions about their production outside Coors Field. Does four or five years in the $15 million per year range seem reasonable? McMahon's a tough one to pin down.

Ian Happ Chicago Cubs LF

Contract: 3 years, $61 million (signed April 2023)

The structure and timing of Happ's contract is a bit unusual because he signed it only a few months before hitting free agency at age 29, and it's not a long-term deal. It gave the Cubs only two additional years of contractual control and will send Happ out into free agency at age 31, which is essentially the "last chance at a huge contract" age. I mean, yes, turning down $61 million is difficult, but Happ was a few months away from a larger payday. His 2023 season was a step down from his 2022, mostly because his defense went from Gold Glove to below average. And, frankly, 2022 is the outlier season. Happ has rated as a below average defender throughout his career.

What would he get this offseason? There are two years and $38 million remaining on Happ's contract and I think he would have beaten that easily. Andrew Benintendi signed a five-year, $75 million contract last offseason that seemed a bit rich for him (and certainly does now). That seems like a good ballpark number for Happ given his age and skill set.

José Alvarado Philadelphia Phillies RP

Contract: 3 years, $22 million plus a club option (signed February 2023)

It's not often a pitcher leaves the Rays and gets better, but the Phillies figured out a way to harness Alvarado's power stuff, and he has been one of the most dominant relievers in the game the last two seasons. The elbow trouble this summer is worrisome. The fact Alvarado was so good when healthy -- 1.74 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings -- alleviates those concerns somewhat, plus lefties who throw 100 mph are always in demand. The Phillies owe Alvarado $18 million total the next two years with $9 million club option for a third year. That looks like a bargain.

What would he get this offseason? I don't think Alvarado would have threatened Edwin Díaz's reliever record five-year, $102 million contract. His track record as a truly elite, best in the league kind of reliever is too short. These days, setup men get $10 million a year though (Rafael Montero, Taylor Rogers, etc.). Something like five years and $60 million could have been in the cards for Alvarado, who is still only 28.

Yoan Moncada Chicago White Sox 3B

Contract: 5 years, $70 million plus a club option (signed March 2020)

Moncada just completed his sixth full MLB season and it feels like we still don't know what he is as a player. He had an excellent 2019 season (which earned him that extension), otherwise he's only been so-so. For all intents and purposes, Moncada has been a league average player for most of his career. He is still only 28 and has obvious natural ability, and some team(s) would have looked at him this offseason and talked themselves into being able to "fix" him. Despite all the hype as a prospect, Moncada's been much closer to good than great.

What would he get this offseason? There is one guaranteed season and $29 million remaining on Moncada's extension. That includes the buyout of his 2025 option. He's the first player on this list that I think might be better off with his extension than he would have been going into free agency. Couldn't you see him signing a one-year "prove yourself" contract in an effort to set him up better for a big payday next offseason? Cody Bellinger and Jeimer Candelario did that last offseason and it worked out wonderfully for them.

Orlando Arcia Atlanta Braves SS

Contract: 3 years, $7.3 million plus a club option (signed March 2023)

The enduring image of Arcia's 2023 will be Bryce Harper giving him the death stare in the Division Series, though the 29-year-old had a fine season. The best season of his career, really. Arcia brings good defense and a league average bat to an important up the middle position. Tim Anderson and Amed Rosario, both of whom are coming off down seasons, are the best middle infielders the free agent class has to offer. Arcia would have been in demand. Very in demand.

What would he get this offseason? Clearly, Arcia is two or three notches below the top free agent shortstops available the last two offseasons (Swanson, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trea Turner, etc.). He's also better than the Aledmys Díazes (two years and $14.5 million) and Jean Seguras (two years and $17 million) of the world. Something like two years and $20 million could have worked for Arcia, perhaps with a club option for a third year or even an opt out so he could go back into free agency next offseason in the event he really broke out in 2024.

Kyle Freeland Colorado Rockies SP

Contract: 5 years, $64.5 million (signed April 2022)

In 2018, Freeland had arguably the greatest pitching season in franchise history, a 202 1/3-inning effort with a 2.85 ERA and strong exit velocity suppression. He has not come particularly close to repeating that season, though Freeland has been solid the last few years, especially when adjusted for Coors Field. There are red flags -- Freeland's ability to miss bats and get weak ground balls has been trending in the wrong direction the last few years -- though the 30-year-old is better than guys occupying the No. 4 and 5 spots in most rotations. I reckon more than a few teams would see Freeland as a buy-low candidate who can be coached up away from the Rockies and Coors Field.

What would he get this offseason? I think last offseason's Taijuan Walker (four years and $72 million) and Jameson Taillon (four years and $68 million) contracts would have been too rich for Freeland. Does that put him in the Zach Eflin bucket (three years and $40 million)? There are three years and $47 million remaining on Freeland's extension. Even with this weak free-agent class, it seems to me he came out ahead signing his deal.

Marco Gonzales Seattle Mariners SP

Contract: 4 years, $30 million plus one club option (signed February 2020)

Thanks mostly to a forearm strain and a nerve issue in his elbow that required surgery, 2023 was the first time Gonzales didn't chew up innings at an league average or better rate. He was limited to 10 ineffective starts and did not pitch after May 28. Gonzales turns 32 in February and he doesn't miss bats or get ground balls or throw hard. Add in the injury and that's a rough combination heading into free agency. That said, the demand for pitching outweighs the supply, and there are reasons to think a healthy Gonzales can be a competent No. 5 starter next season. Maybe even better than that.

What would he get this offseason? Gonzales would have been a clear cut one-year contract candidate this offseason. Matthew Boyd and James Paxton each received one guaranteed year and $10 million coming off major elbow injuries the last two offseasons, so that's a good benchmark here. Because Gonzales has a lower ceiling -- Boyd and especially Paxton at their best miss a lot of bats -- perhaps he would have been closer to $8 million or so. There is one year and $12 million remaining on his extension. Gonzales is better off with that than he would have been testing the market.

Antonio Senzatela Colorado Rockies SP

Contract: 5 years, $50.5 million plus one club option (signed October 2021)

On paper, Senzatela is a good fit for Coors Field as a ground ball guy (career 50.6%) who is stingy with walks (career 2.8 BB/9), though that extension was a head-scratcher the day it was signed. The soon-to-be 29-year-old had Tommy John surgery in August and will miss most, if not all, of 2024. Senzatela has three years and $36 million guaranteed remaining on his contract.

What would he get this offseason? Given the timing of his Tommy John surgery, Senzatela would have been a candidate for a two-year contract with a low base salary in 2024, his rehab year. Maybe something like two years and $10 million -- $2 million in 2024 and $8 million in 2025, give or take -- with bonuses tied to innings in 2025?