Major League Baseball's hot stove season is underway, with free agents able to sign wherever they please. Some players, like left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney, have already found new homes; others are certain to follow between now and Dec. 1, before the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. The owners are expected to lock out the players at that point, bringing the offseason to a halt.
Even so, we're going about our normal winter business, including running articles like this one, wherein we predict the landing spots of the top 20 free agents. (You can check out our full rankings of the top 50 free agents here.) As with psychic readings in the lovely state of New Jersey, we are legally obligated to note that these predictions are only for entertainment purposes.
With that out of the way, let us process.
No. 1 Carlos Correa, SS: Yankees
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has declared that he has the payroll "latitude" to make additions. What, precisely, that entails is to be seen. Correa makes a lot of sense for the Yankees: he can provide them better defense at the shortstop position, and he would give their lineup another impact-level bat. The Yankees have already signed one former Astro to a massive contract, in Gerrit Cole, suggesting New York's front office is unlikely to worry too much about the sign-stealing scandal.
No. 2 Corey Seager, SS: Cubs
The Cubs have been signaling, both publicly and privately, that they intend to spend money this winter. Seager would provide a face to their new-look roster while also giving their lineup a much-needed boost. That Seager may have to eventually slide off shortstop seems like less of a problem for a team in transition than it was for, say, the Dodgers.
No. 3 Kris Bryant, 3B/OF: Mets
Bryant's defensive versatility makes him a fit for several teams. We're going with the Mets here because they could use another potent bat. Plus, it would be cool to see Bryant play next to Francisco Lindor.
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No. 4 Marcus Semien, 2B: Mariners
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has boxed himself in on which top free agents he can pursue without breaking public promises. Semien, who leads the majors in position-player Wins Above Replacement since 2019, would still seem to fit.
No. 5 Freddie Freeman, 1B: Braves
It would be shocking if the Braves allowed Freeman to walk right after they won their first World Series in more than two decades. We think they'll figure it out.
No. 6 Robbie Ray, LHP: Blue Jays
Since we have Semien heading elsewhere, we'll keep Ray in Toronto. The Blue Jays certainly have the means to reward his excellent season with a longer, more lucrative contract than the one-year deal worth $8 million they gave him last winter.
No. 7 Max Scherzer, RHP: Giants
Scherzer reportedly had a preference for the west coast at the trade deadline. Should that remain true, then he might end up picking between the three National League West foes. The Giants are losing most of their rotation to free agency, meaning they might be more motivated than the Dodgers or Padres to make a deal.
No. 8 Kevin Gausman, RHP: Angels
The Angels are perpetually on the hunt for rotation help. Gausman has emerged as a top-of-the-rotation starter the past couple seasons. General manager Perry Minasian is also familiar with Gausman from their shared days with the Braves organization.
No. 9 Marcus Stroman, RHP: Mariners
The Mariners have numerous good young pitchers either nearing or at the big-league level. Stroman would give them another above-average arm, this time attached to a veteran, to slot in near the front of their rotation.
No. 10 Starling Marte, OF: Tigers
If the Tigers are going to push closer to contention, they could stand to add someone like Marte. He's the top outfielder on the market, and he would give them a boost at the top of the lineup. With Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene nearing The Show, it only makes sense that Detroit starts adding above-average veterans.
No. 11 Trevor Story, SS: Rangers
The Rangers need some offensive help. Story would provide that. He could come at a lower cost, too, given concerns about his position (or, more accurately, his arm strength) and his home-road splits. The Rangers should be able to stomach the risk.
No. 12 Chris Taylor, UTL: Blue Jays
With Semien heading elsewhere, Toronto could use another middle infielder. Taylor would give the Blue Jays a versatile defender and an above-average hitter. He's likely to be a popular target for teams seeking their own Enrique Hernández.
No. 13 Javier Báez, INF: Phillies
The first of two consecutive Phillies predictions, Báez would give Philadelphia an immediate overall upgrade at the shortstop position. And, if Didi Gregorius were to show signs of life, or if Bryson Stott can make a quick ascent to the majors, then Báez can slide to third, taking advantage of his big arm and defensive versatility.
No. 14 Nick Castellanos, OF: Phillies
Finding a spot for Castellanos is a little more challenging than it seems. He's a heck of a hitter, but not every team will value him highly because of his defensive limitations. The Phillies could use another stick, and he's a certain upgrade over their left fielders.
No. 15 Seiya Suzuki, OF: Rangers
Suzuki, a five-time All-Star in Nippon Professional Baseball, is a well-rounded player who should be highly sought after if and when he's posted by the Hiroshima Carp following the Japan Series. (Think late November.) The Rangers, who have consistently dipped their toes into signing players from NPB, seem like an obvious fit.
No. 16 Clayton Kershaw, LHP: Rangers
There have been rumors about Kershaw wanting to pitch near his hometown for the last several years. This is perhaps his best chance at making that happen, as the Rangers have money to spend and he's already won a World Series ring.
No. 17 Justin Verlander, RHP: Signed with Astros
Verlander is heading back to Houston on a one-year, $25 million deal with a player option for the 2023 season. We originally thought the two-time Cy Young winner would head to L.A. to link up with the Dodgers, who could lose both Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer in free agency.
No. 18 Noah Syndergaard, RHP: Signed with Angels
We originally thought Syndergaard was the player likeliest to accept the qualifying offer. That would've have put him back with the Mets for another season as he attempts to rebuild value. However, in the most notable move of the offseason to date, Syndergaard landed a one-year deal with the Angels for $21 million.
No. 19 Eduardo Rodríguez, LHP: Signed with Tigers
Rodríguez feels underrated despite spending his entire big-league career with Boston. The Red Sox could have used the rotation help, so it was surprising him walk as he signed a five-year, $77 million deal with the Detroit Tigers on Monday.
No. 20 Kenley Jansen, RHP: Dodgers
We already predicted the Dodgers will lose Kershaw; why make it worse on Los Angeles fans by also forecasting a Jansen departure?