Here is the Ultimate Free-Agent Tracker for the class of 2017-18, ranked from Nos. 1 to 184. The rankings are based on a number of variables, including each player’s history, opening-day age and potential, and are as much about predicted performance as market value, providing a general outline as free agency unfolds between now and spring training.
Bookmark this page in your browser or favorite it on Twitter – and return frequently. As the offseason progresses, Yahoo Sports will update it with news of signings and their impact on other free agents.
1. Shohei Ohtani, SP: SIGNED One of the best baseball players in the world, and certainly the most interesting, will not sign for more than $3.53 million this winter. That’s the most a team can pay Ohtani, the right-hander who throws 102 mph and also pummels home runs batting from the left side. New rules on international amateurs limit the amount a team can spend on a signing bonus, and rather than wait two years, get past the 25-year-old threshold and rake in hundreds of millions of dollars, Ohtani wants to come now. Will he go American League or National League? West Coast, East Coast or in between? Will he play two ways or stick solely to pitching? All of it remains unknown. The only thing teams do know is that a 23-year-old franchise player is a free agent who will cost what amounts to the change teams pick out of their couch cushions. If that’s not a great story, great stories don’t exist. Done deal: Shohei Ohtani signs with the Los Angeles Angels
2. Yu Darvish, SP: He is still this high on the list because he is still an excellent pitcher. Two starts do not change that. Let’s not ignore the two, either, because both came in the World Series and lasted five outs and contributed heavily to the Los Angeles Dodgers losing. And when Darvish, he of the low ERAs and high strikeouts and great groundball rates, asks for $25 million a year and seeks six years, what every owner, president and GM is going to do is ask himself or even aloud: How can we do that when he folded at the two times his team needed him most? This is what Darvish will face leading up to the Winter Meetings in Orlando starting Dec. 10, and this is a question that may not have a satisfactory answer, leaving one team needing to take a leap of faith and Darvish needing to prove it prescient.
3. J.D. Martinez, OF: Four of the next five players will be represented by Scott Boras, including Martinez, who hired him as free agency dawned. Players tend to hire Boras because he generally proves himself adept at extracting a significant amount of money, and Martinez, coming off a 45-home run, .690-slugging season, wants to get paid. Even with home runs up around baseball, Martinez’s age-29 season was a whopper, and he positioned himself as well as anybody. The drawbacks are clear. He’s not a good fielder and not a particularly good baserunner, and when you’re seeking $200 million, those tend to be prerequisites. Home runs tend to wash away such concerns, and Martinez packs enough to mitigate the apprehension.
4. Eric Hosmer, 1B: Odd as it feels to put a first baseman this high in the rankings, it reflects the general adoration for Hosmer inside of front offices. Even the analytical sorts who question his glove buy into the idea of Hosmer as a transformative personality inside of a clubhouse – of a leader. And while that’s difficult to quantify, his walk-year slash line isn’t: .318/.385/.498 set career highs in all three categories, and it came after a mess of an April. In the last five months, those numbers jumped to .335/.402/.533, and with a glove nearly every team rates elite (contrary to fielding metrics), Hosmer is this high in the rankings because he warrants it.
5. Jake Arrieta, SP: The groundball rate dipped by more than 10 percent. The home run rate tripled. The difference between 2015 Arrieta and 2017 Arrieta is noticeable and notable, because the 2017 version shows enough red flags that teams are trying to pump the breaks on laying out $25 million a year for five years. All it takes is one, of course, and nobody knows how to leverage that one quite like Boras. Just look at his second half, one can imagine Boras saying, and yes: With a 2.28 ERA, it looks a lot better. But that belies the peripherals, which were more or less the same and in which the front offices that spend the cash believe. Which means what, exactly? This negotiation has every hallmark of one that will stretch into the new year.
6. Lorenzo Cain, CF: Will his legs hold up? That’s what the Royals have asked themselves for the past six years. They see Cain hobbling around the clubhouse like a decrepit old man and wonder how much of it is show and how much pain he’s really in. When he’s out on the field, Cain is a wonder, particularly in center and on the basepaths. The bat plays, too. If the legs go, though, the rest of the game could suffer quickly, and the notion of Cain keeping his speed and his health for the next five years simply doesn’t square with someone who will be 32 this April. If that means a shorter-term, higher-dollar offer, it might be the prudent play.
7. Mike Moustakas, 3B: The power is unquestionable. What teams do wonder about Moustakas is how long he stays at third base. Because when they’re looking to commit to a player for a half a decade, they want to understand what a post-30 Moustakas will look like and whether he’ll be able to patrol the position as he does today, which is to say well enough. Otherwise, Moustakas is a rare power hitter with superior bat-to-ball skills, though that does come with the drawback of a dearth of walks. The range of his potential contract may be as high as any player in this class.
8. Alex Cobb, SP: Few players generate love as universal as front offices’ toward Cobb. They love his fastball, which is back to its pre-Tommy John surgery velocity, and they love his curveball, which he is throwing more than ever, and they even love his changeup, which hasn’t been the pitch it was before the surgery but flashes it often enough to think it may be. It’s not that they see Cobb as a No. 1 starter; he isn’t and won’t be. They love his competitiveness and his attitude and the raw intent with which he delivers every pitch. Just 30, he’ll have plenty of four-year offers. The team that goes five may get him.
9. Wade Davis, RP: No longer is Davis the cyborg who stared down batters and bodied them with a hail of fastballs, cutters and curveballs. A year after Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen each cashed in for five years apiece at $17 million-plus, the prospect of Davis reaching that threshold in dollars and especially years is unlikely. He will get paid, though, and he will get paid a lot, because of how bullpens matter, because his stuff is still boss even if it’s not what it once was and because the winter somehow convinces decision makers that a quarter million dollars an inning is about the going rate for a closer of Davis’ ilk.
10. Jay Bruce, OF: While it’s not quite as acute as with Hosmer, the difference of opinion between the analytical and scouting crowds is rather strong with Bruce, too. He’s still just 30 and coming off back-to-back seasons in which he slugged .500. His OBP leaves plenty to be desired, and his glove is better in scouts’ reports than data analyses. The list of corner outfielders available this winter does not run deep, and that plays well enough in Bruce’s favor that he could wind up getting four years.
11. Zack Cozart, SS: SIGNED One of the odder stories of the past three years is Cozart’s evolution from a .221/.268/.300-hitting, smooth-fielding shortstop to a .297/.385/.548-bashing, world-destroying monster. Based on those numbers, he warrants a position in the top 10. And yet the too-good-to-be-true nature of it, and Cincinnati’s lack of a qualifying offer, and Cozart’s age (32) all conspire to keep him outside of it. Just remember: The only shortstops 32 and older to hit even .275/.350/.500 over a full season are Barry Larkin, Joe Cronin and Honus Wagner. All three are in the Hall of Fame, a place where Zack Cozart, no matter how good he may be, won’t wind up anytime soon.
12. Jonathan Lucroy, C: Over his 46 games in Colorado, Lucroy slashed .310/.429/.437, walking 27 times and striking out just 19 in175 plate appearances. He looked every bit the franchise catcher Texas believed him to be when it acquired him in July 2016. Lucroy cratered, leaving teams now with this dilemma: Is he the guy he was before and after Texas, the guy he was in Texas or some amalgamation? At least one team is likely enough to believe in the former that Lucroy gets three years.
13. Lance Lynn, SP: Yes, the 3.43 ERA he posted last season did not really reflect his ability to strike out hitters or prevent walks and home runs. Sometimes baseball gifts a guy like Lynn a walk year that looks good enough to goad a team into offering four, maybe five years. The paucity of starting pitching helps, as does the playoff experience, so all life is these days is a waiting game until an owner convinces himself he thinks five years for Lance Lynn is A-OK.
14. Carlos Santana, 1B: SIGNED Since his first full-time season, Santana’s OBPs have been: .351, .365, .377, .365, .357, .366 and .363. The incredible consistency with which Santana gets on base puts him in this echelon, and that he manages to complement it with power and an above-average glove at first gives him a unique skill set for this class. He’s the guy with the bad body who can bat leadoff and nobody blinks an eye.
15. Welington Castillo, C: SIGNED A near-.500-slugging catcher with a cannon for an arm whose supposed weakness is in the framing of pitches, which comes fresh with questionable data these days? That sounds like a man who is going to get paid awfully handsomely this winter. Castillo has been underappreciated for years. That’s about to change. Done deal: Welington Castillo signs with Chicago White Sox
16. Logan Morrison, 1B: Two very important numbers: 38 and 81. The first is how many home runs Morrison hit with Tampa Bay in 2017. The second is how many times he walked. Morrison’s hard contact says this was no fluke, and a breakout more than a half decade in the making finally happened last season. Considering all the open first-base jobs, Morrison should get the first big multiyear deal of his career.
17. Neil Walker, 2B: Between the walk-rate jump and the steady strikeout rate, Walker’s plate discipline shoots him to the top of the second-base list. His glove there is plenty serviceable, too. Walker’s recent injury history does complicate matters, particularly when the previous attributes allow him to start the bidding in the two-year range with the intention of it jumping to three.
18. CC Sabathia, SP: SIGNED Part of Sabathia’s allure is the reality that he’s unlikely to necessitate anything more than a one-year commitment. Sabathia is the modern version of a late-career David Wells or Jimmy Key. He doesn’t eat innings because managers’ reticence at letting a pitcher see a lineup the third time through. He does, however, grind for outs, which often is all a team needs from a back-end starter.
19. Greg Holland, RP: First-half Holland would’ve been even higher on the list. At one point toward the end of the season, Rockies fans were grumbling that maybe Chris Rusin should be closing. Holland kept the gig, and if his second year back from Tommy John surgery gives a command bump and leaving Coors Field tamps down his home run rate, suddenly he’s looking a lot more like the elite-of-the-elite closer he was from 2011-14.
20. Carlos Gonzalez, OF: This was not the CarGo of years past, and it’s why he’ll be the first on this list to go for a one-year deal. Anything longer would strike him as a lowball in dollars. With one year, he gets to pick where he’ll prove himself, potentially join a playoff contender and re-enter the market in a much stronger class but with achievement, not disappointment, on his side.
21. Addison Reed, RP: The 11 home runs he allowed in 76 innings do not exactly scream elite, nor does the 92-mph fastball in a bullpen world of 95-or-you’re-a-scrub. Reed’s late-inning success, not to mention his control, have him on top of a number of teams’ relief wish lists this offseason, ahead even of Davis and Holland.
22. Juan Nicasio, RP: SIGNED Mostly he sticks with a grip-and-rip 96-mph fastball, and it’s a devil of a pitch, the sort suited for the eighth or even the ninth inning. He may not be in as high demand as some of the relievers to follow, but he’s every bit as good if not better.
23. Todd Frazier, 3B: If his sudden 2017 spike in walks is real, the 31-year-old Frazier has a good case to be higher. For now, his greatest attribute may be as a culture builder, because the juiced ball has democratized his best quality – hitting for power – and slow legs and a so-so glove aren’t altogether desirable. His presence is very real, though, and even if they do have a logjam in the infield, the Yankees may want to bring Frazier back.
24. Brandon Morrow, RP: SIGNED Nobody needed winter more than Morrow, who finished his breakout season getting Joe Torre’d by Dave Roberts. Morrow threw 43 2/3 near-immaculate innings for the Dodgers this season, and at his best in October, his fastball sat 99 and he buoyed it with a power cutter and slider. His stuff is hard, harder and hardest, and teams will crawl over one another to lock him into their eighth inning, hopeful his arm holds up under duress as it never before has.
25. Mike Minor, RP: SIGNED Multiple teams are toying with the idea of asking Minor to start again after he reinvigorated his career out of the bullpen with Kansas City. With a 95-mph fastball and wipeout slider from the left side, Minor was a poor-man’s Andrew Miller – and that’s no insult. He may be the Brett Cecil of this winter, with enough three-year offers that teams will jump to four just to land him, amazing considering he hadn’t pitched in the major leagues for two years before 2017. Done deal: Mike Minor signs with Texas Rangers
26. Tyler Chatwood, SP: SIGNED The best comp to Chatwood may be Gil Meche, who hit free agency with a 4.65 career ERA and still managed to get a five-year deal because teams loved his stuff. Chatwood is 27, his ERA is 4.31 and he has a ton of fans who believe if ever he were to leave Colorado, he’d break out. He won’t get the five years Meche did. Three? It’s well possible.
27. Pat Neshek, RP: SIGNED Strikes dudes out? Check. Walks no one? Check. Doesn’t allow home runs? Check. Aside from generating groundballs, Neshek did just about everything a team wants last season. He’ll get paid handsomely. It’s just a matter of whether a team is willing to give a third year to a guy who’s already 37.
28. Carlos Gomez, OF: Once upon a time, he had the best center-field glove in the big leagues. With his 32nd birthday just before the Winter Meetings start, Gomez will fight the perception that he may not age well, limiting the possibilities of a longer-term deal someone with his reputation might fetch otherwise.
29. Eduardo Nunez, UT: Well, he can hit the ball around a little. It’s all the other things – the glove, the mental lapses, the utter impatience at the plate – that make Nunez a little less appealing than a versatile guy who puts the ball in play should be.
30. Yonder Alonso, 1B: SIGNED Even after his insane mid-May run, Alonso was a more-than-solid producer, which won’t necessarily get him paid as arguably the fourth-best first baseman available but might allow a smart team to poach him at a relative bargain.
31. Anthony Swarzak, RP: SIGNED Proof that all it takes to make $20 million in Major League Baseball is one well-timed season. At this point last year, Swarzak was scrounging for minor league deals. Now, after striking out 91 over 77 1/3 of the best relief innings in baseball, his market may swell to three years at $7 million a pop.
32. Jaime Garcia, SP: He pitches a fair number of innings. He induces a ton of grounders. In 2017, that’s a $10 million-a-year pitcher for multiple years.
33. Jake McGee, RP: SIGNED Amid the breaking-ball revolution, McGee pumps his fastball more than 90 percent of the time, and for both teams that have bend-heavy relief corps and those who could use a hard-throwing lefty – that covers just about everyone – he should be in high demand.
34. Steve Cishek, RP: SIGNED One of the best sinker-slider combinations around – and it has gotten particularly potent as Cishek has taken more than 7 mph off the breaking ball since his rookie season to offer a true off-speed pitch. The dip in fastball velocity is a bit troublesome, but as long as he’s generating 56 percent groundballs as he did last season, it’s all well and good.
35. Andrew Cashner, SP: Continuing the time-honored tradition of offseason Andrew Cashner comments and Wu-Tang Clan references, perhaps it’s best to quote the sharks at Wu-Tang Financial: “We about to go to war. Invest in some nuclear bombs.” In other words: When you’re coming off a 3.40 ERA season, forget anyone who asks about the awful 4.6 strikeouts per nine. Just keep reminding them about how good last season was and hope they don’t understand the predictive power of peripherals.
36. Lucas Duda, 1B: During his two months in Tampa Bay, struck out more than twice as many times as he got a hit, and those hits went like this: 13 home runs, 10 singles, seven doubles. Duda’s 116 OPS+ and 30 homers sound good, but with this many first basemen available, he Darvish’d himself down the stretch.
37. Jon Jay, OF: Gets on base. Plays a workable center field and solid corner. The antithesis of flashy but still the sort almost every front office would love to get on a one-year deal.
38. Joe Smith, RP: SIGNED Get past the 90-mph fastball and focus instead on the walkless stint with the Indians down the stretch. Or the 11.8 strikeouts per nine. Or the four home runs in 54 innings. On peripherals alone, Smith was an elite reliever in 2017 and should find himself getting multiple years accordingly.
39. Bryan Shaw, RP: SIGNED A legitimate workhorse who will get multiple years based on his consistency. The big question: Will all those appearances – 442 over the past six seasons – take a toll going forward, or can he keep throwing cutter after cutter to great ends?
40. Yoshihisa Hirano, RP: SIGNED A classic fastball-splitter reliever, the 33-year-old Hirano will be a hot item as he brings closing experience from Japan and won’t cost any money via the posting system.
41. Michael Pineda, SP: SIGNED Likely to get a two-year deal (or, at very least, one year with a club option) as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. He could conceivably return late this season, though the prospect of a 19-month gap between the procedure and spring training 2019 would allow Pineda time to let his arm heal and work himself into better shape.
42. Tommy Hunter, RP: SIGNED A full-time reliever for five years now, Hunter has averaged 60 innings a season, walked fewer than two per nine and posted a 3.12 ERA. With a sinker, cutter and curve, the repertoire matches the performance.
43. Matt Albers, RP: Hey, hey, hey! Albers was among the most unhittable relievers in baseball last season, though the Regression Gods are frothing at the mouth with a .203 BABIP and 92.4 percent strand rate signaling an ERA well above the 1.62 he put up.
44. Brandon Kintzler, RP: SIGNED Love the 55 percent groundball rate. Just can’t get fully onboard with someone who strikes out fewer than five hitters per nine in this day and age.
45. Tony Watson, RP: Watson’s finest years with Pittsburgh came thanks to elite home run suppression. The last two seasons, as the ball has flown, so has his ERA – and, worse than that, his Fielding Independent Pitching number, which tends to correlate more strongly with future performance.
46. Jason Vargas, SP: In the first half, hitters slashed .244/.291/.373 against him. Following his first career All-Star appearance, it was .292/.366/.538. First-half ERA: 2.62. Second half: 6.38. He is indeed lower than a starter who probably won’t pitch this year, which isn’t a great place for a guy who at 34 may find himself choosing among one-year deals.
47. Mitch Moreland, 1B: SIGNED A rare case where a player goes to the hitters’ funhouse that is Fenway Park and leaves looking no better than when he came. Moreland is the guy you’ll take if you don’t get the guy you really wanted.
48. Alcides Escobar, SS: He will play every day, which is typically a good thing, except with a guy who took 14 unintentional walks in 629 plate appearances, which is exceptionally difficult to do. Escobar’s offense is so bad it negates his glove and legs, both of which are above average, and makes anything more than a two-year deal dangerous.
49. Matt Holliday, OF: Before a bout with Epstein-Barr virus and a back injury, Holliday was in the midst of a resurgence, with an OPS over .900. He finished the season under .750. Though he turns 38 in January, he may be the best bet of the over-35 crowd.
50. Austin Jackson, CF: True, his greatest seasons come from a significant amount of ball-in-play luck. (See: 2012, 2017.) Still, Jackson is an average center fielder, and among that, his bat and his age (30), he’s the new Chris Young: a lefty killer who holds his own against righties.
51. Alex Avila, C: While his numbers last year were juiced by an unusually high average on balls in play, Avila’s plate discipline is undeniable, and if he can avoid the concussions that have plagued him in the past, he’s an excellent 100-game-a-year option for teams in need of a catcher.
52. Jarrod Dyson, OF: The epitome of a glove-and-wheels player, the former 50th-round pick is either an excellent fourth outfielder or a solid 400-plate appearance center fielder.
53. Melky Cabrera, “OF”: He’s a mess in the outfield, but the 33-year-old Cabrera still can hit from both sides of the plate, and he’s plenty employable accordingly.
54. Jeremy Hellickson, SP: That whole build-on-a-strong-2016-and-go-bananas-in-2017 plan didn’t work out so well. Now Hellickson is a 30-year-old who gave up the third-most homers per nine of any qualified starter and struck out the third fewest in the same group of 58 players.
55. Kazuhisa Makita, RP: If there is anything Major League Baseball could use more of, it’s dudes who throw like this. The 33-year-old Makita doesn’t strike anyone out, but he walked only five in 62 2/3 innings last season.
56. Jhoulys Chacin, SP: SIGNED Look, it’s entirely possible to walk more than 3.5 hitters per nine innings and be a good major league pitcher. Gio Gonzalez and Hector Santiago can attest. They’re about it, though, which makes this the most bearish prognosis on Chacin. The stuff isn’t great. The strikeouts aren’t there. Even with a good groundball rate, too many walks. It’s not a desirable free-agent recipe.
57. Seung-Hwan Oh, RP: Everything went wrong for Oh last season. The command that defined his breakout first major league season abandoned him. Home runs soared. Strikeouts cratered. The stuff remains, though, and he’s a good one-year gamble as a guy who eventually could pitch high-leverage innings.
58. Chris Tillman, SP: It’s difficult to find a worse walk year than Tillman’s. He had literally the worst ERA in history of a pitcher who started at least 19 games: 7.84. Opponents hit .324/.406./.575 off him, meaning the average hitter for 444 plate appearances against him in 2017 was essentially Freddie Freeman. All that said, he will get a one-year deal, because baseball is a desperate place.
59. Yusmeiro Petit, SP/RP: SIGNED Four of his past five years have ranged from good to excellent, so forgive the low spot. Petit does offer a solid four-pitch mix and can go multiple innings or spot start when needed. The versatility is great. Here’s guessing the deflated home run rate in 2017 simply doesn’t hold. Done deal: Yusmeiro Petit signs with Oakland Athletics
60. Howie Kendrick, UT: He can hit. He can play second and both corner-outfield spots. Probably not an everyday player anymore, but Kendrick is ideal so long as it’s on a one-year deal.
61. David Hernandez, RP: Could seek multiple years in hopes that teams’ desire for functional relievers filters its way down to the top of the middle tier.
62. Jayson Werth, OF: Laugh at the notion of veteran presence as you may. Teams do not. And while Werth is no longer an $18 million-a-year player, bringing him aboard in a role similar to what Houston’s wizened sorts did for the young Astros – and benefitting from his excellent plate discipline – will make a team look smart.
63. Jose Bautista, OF: It’s difficult to give up on players who walk as much as Bautista does. Even if his bat isn’t what it once was, and in 2017 it didn’t look close, bringing in Bautista at the right price is a high-upside value play. TL;DR: Jayson Werth clone.
64. Mark Reynolds, 1B: With the juiced ball turning mediocre power hitters average and average into beasts, Reynolds’ single greatest attribute – his ability to hit a baseball a very long way – loses some of its luster. Between that and the deep first-base class, he’s unlikely to get a deal that reflects a 30-homer, near-.850-OPS season.
65. Adam Lind, 1B: An excellent first-base or DH platoon candidate. OPS’d nearly .900 against right-handers last year and exceeds .850 for his career.
66. Brian Duensing, RP: The Cubs saw something in Duensing few others did and were rewarded with 62 1/3 innings of 2.74 ERA ball. Now 34, he may be looking at a multi-year deal.
67. Koji Uehara, RP: Between the 87-mph fastball and the 25 percent groundball rate, Uehara has among the worst profiles of any pitcher on the market. Though his strong strikeout-to-walk ratio portends well, Uehara isn’t a great bet at 43.
68. Wilin Rosario, C/1B: Destroyed the Korean league for the past two seasons, though the offensive environment and pitching there are admittedly conducive to such destruction. Won’t find himself with quite an Eric Thames-like offer, but a return to the big leagues is certainly possible.
69. Miles Mikolas, SP: SIGNED After three seasons reinventing himself as a starter in Japan, the former San Diego reliever should get multiple years following a nice year in which he struck out nearly a batter an inning and posted an 8.1-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
70. Cameron Maybin, OF: It’s fairly evident by this point that the 30-year-old Maybin won’t ever fulfill the oceans of promise he held coming up. Between his wheels and a legit center-field glove, he’s still a plenty productive major league player.
71. Chris Iannetta, C: SIGNED Every few years, Iannetta has a BABIP spike that makes his batting average look halfway decent. The difference in 2017 is that a power jump accompanied it, too. There are a lot worse things than a platoon with Iannetta hitting against left-handers. Done deal: Chris Iannetta signs with Colorado Rockies
72. R.A. Dickey, SP: If Dickey’s arm is as resilient as he says, shouldn’t a team put him in the bullpen, allow him to pitch as many low-leverage innings as possible (with incentives to reward innings pitched) and thus allow themselves to either get by with five other relievers and use the extra spot for a bench player or stack six relievers who could be used more frequently when fourth and fifth starters get pulled before the third time in the batting order comes up?
73. Seth Smith, OF: A consistently solid hitter – his weighted on-base averages the past three seasons have been .331, .331 and .332 – Smith serves best as a platoon partner against righties who can be subbed in the late innings.
74. Chris Young, OF: A notorious lefty killer, his .590 OPS against southpaws last season was 200 points lower than vs. righties. If age has taken his center-field range, the great bench value he brought is diminished.
75. Yunel Escobar, 3B: Typically a stalwart contact bat, Escobar struck out at a higher rate last season than ever before, and his glove was its typically meh self, too. There’s a spot for him somewhere. It’s just difficult to justify everyday at-bats anymore.
76. Francisco Liriano, SP/RP: The raw stuff is good enough to get him a big league deal, but his deal might as well be signed with nitroglycerin, because he is as capable as any big league pitcher of entirely blowing up.
77. Andre Ethier, OF: Transitioning quite nicely into the old guy who destroys rookies’ souls and brightens the rest of our days in the process.
78. Miguel Gonzalez, SP: Your classic good-enough No. 5 starter that you hope is replaced midseason by someone younger and better.
79. Ben Revere, OF: Now here’s a little story I’ve got to tell, about one free agent who ran quite well, it started way back in history, with a weak-armed outfielder named Benny. He was a 30-year-old named Ben Revere. He didn’t hit for power but he had no fear. It was rare that he fanned, his game was quite bland. For a big league deal there would still be demand.
80. Doug Fister, SP: SIGNED Remember when the Nationals traded Robbie Ray in a deal for Fister and everyone was convinced Washington had fleeced Detroit? Yeah. Done deal: Doug Fister signs with Texas Rangers
81. Chase Utley, 2B: The Silver Fox will ride again.
82. Wade Miley, SP: Could be on his fifth team in five seasons. A once-reliable innings eater, Miley lost every semblance of control last season and led the major leagues with 93 walks. If he rediscovers it, he’s an under-the-radar potential good deal.
83. Peter Moylan, RP: A third consecutive season with an ERA in the 3.4s, and this one came amid a major league-best 79 appearances. Moylan has ridden his unorthodox delivery back from a pair of Tommy John surgeries and, if all is right in the world, to a major league deal.
84. Hector Santiago, SP: Considering the starting-pitching deficiency in the game, Santiago may get a low-dollar, high-incentive bite. Teams crave depth now more than ever.
85. Fernando Rodney, RP: SIGNED There may be nothing more entertaining in baseball than tuning in to a ninth inning where Rodney enters with a three-run lead and watching nerves fray and spirits rollercoaster and emotions flit about like a Geiger counter near the radioactivity, which is appropriate, because the very essence of the Fernando Rodney Experience is pure, nuclear terror generally followed by disproportionate elation.
86. Curtis Granderson, OF: As positively dreadful as he was with the Dodgers, Granderson is worthy of a fourth-outfielder spot or perhaps a platoon role that pits him against right-handed pitching only. Enough lefty killers exist to make it a fruitful arrangement.
87. Mike Napoli, 1B: The party ended last year with a .193 average. Even a big league deal isn’t a guarantee with all the first basemen available and the free-agent DH market shrinking into nothingness.
88. Brett Anderson, SP: His ability to induce groundballs and suppress home runs remains desirable enough that he’ll get another shot. An intrepid team may try to offer an incentive-loaded deal in an effort to switch Anderson to the bullpen.
89. Danny Valencia, UT: Could join his eighth team in seventh years.
90. Daniel Nava, OF: The prettiest swing in baseball is Nava’s from the left side, where he hit .341/.423/.474 in 2017. Late bloomers are great, and Nava earned a big league deal with his most recent performance.
91. Rajai Davis, OF: Another fourth outfielder who, on today’s short benches, serves a particular role with his ability to swipe bases and play a respectable center field.
92. Scott Feldman, SP: Some non-contender is going to sign him, plug him in to the back of its rotation and deal him to an injury-plagued contender in July, because that’s his lot in life, and he has made more than $50 million doing it.
93. Nick Hundley, C: SIGNED Lives somewhere in that no-man’s land of not good enough to be an everyday regular but not bad enough that he should spend a vast majority of his time on the bench. He should play a nice tweener role somewhere.
94. Oliver Perez, RP: Fills out all the criteria necessary for employment. Is he left-handed? Check. Is he a reliever? Check. Does he have a pulse? Check.
95. Bud Norris, RP: The Bud Norris, Ninja Closer Era came to an end in rather ignominious fashion, though like Joe Blanton before him, his bullpen reinvention saved his career.
96. Craig Stammen, RP: All he wants in this world is to find a team that can be his pistil. And we’ve reached the portion of the proceedings where we’re making flower puns.
97. Sergio Romo, RP: His second-half resurgence with the Rays should land him a middle-inning gig somewhere, and it’s going to be fun to see him push the 75 percent threshold on sliders thrown.
98. Luke Gregerson, RP: SIGNED Just because he matched up poorly with about every Dodgers hitter in the World Series doesn’t make Gregerson’s ability to pitch the sixth or seventh inning during the regular season any less valuable. Though he does need to get a handle on the home runs. Nearly two per nine innings is a mess.
99. Fernando Abad, RP: If teams desperate for left-handed relief even consider going two years here, that would be Abad contract. Sorry. There are only 85 left to go.
100. Tim Lincecum, SP: Have a feeling he’s not quite done yet.
101. Jorge De La Rosa, RP: At some point, perhaps he’ll leave the unfriendly confines of Colorado and Arizona for a place where the ball doesn’t fly, and then we can get a better sense of how good De La Rosa might be. For now, he’s a perfectly OK lefty reliever.
102. Brandon Phillips, 2B: The last time he was even league average offensively was 2011. At 36, he’s looking at the Utley path of utility/mentorship role.
103. Clay Buchholz, SP: Flexor-tendon injuries are like the slightly better-dressed, better-behaved version of a UCL tear, but don’t be fooled by the façade. Anyone who needed surgery, as Buchholz did last year, faces a difficult trek back. Teams still will line up in hopes of snagging a one-year bargain.
104. Matt Belisle, RP: If he’s the seventh man out of the ‘pen, you’re living well. If he’s thrust into any high-leverage situation, that’s a problem.
105. J.J. Hardy, SS: Just a reminder that Manny Machado is a third baseman because of Hardy, who at 35 isn’t the shortstop he once was.
106. Ricky Nolasco, SP: The last time Nolasco hit the open market, the Twins gave him $49 million. In return, he gave them 321 innings of 5.44 ERA baseball. Free agency!
107. Boone Logan, RP: If ever anyone wants proof that tying a kid’s right arm behind his back is not child abuse but instead pragmatic parenting, drop this bit of knowledge: Boone Logan has made more than $30 million throwing a baseball.
108. Tony Barnette, RP: SIGNED Had 2.09 ERA in his first major league season and 5.49 his second. Reality is somewhere in between, and with decent-enough strikeouts, control and home run rates, he could be a nice, cheap sign for someone. Done deal: Tony Barnette signs with Texas Rangers
109. Ichiro Suzuki, OF: He says he wants to play until he’s 50. Satchel Paige and Minnie Minoso could use a little company.
110. Zach Duke, RP: SIGNED Returned from Tommy John surgery in a ridiculous nine months and wasn’t half bad. A perfectly ripe LOOGY.
111. Wade LeBlanc, RP: He has carved out a career as a delightfully OK left-hander reliever, which means he should be employed until he’s at least 63.
112. Curt Casali, C: Actually has a bit of pop and is decent behind the plate. He’ll be a third guy brought in to spring training looking to unseat a backup.
113. Jason Motte, RP: The post-Tommy John Motte never did reach his previous fastball velocity levels, and gone was what made him a truly fearsome reliever from 2010-12. Today he’s just a guy – and hoping, at 35, to be the next old guy to take a quantum leap and position himself well for next offseason.
114. Stephen Drew, UT: Has settled very nicely into a utility role, something he could do for at least a few more years if he so desires.
115. Miguel Montero, C: The Cubs got rid of him after he called out Arrieta for allowing too many stolen bases. The Blue Jays kept him and he was dreadful. Certainly talented enough to keep playing, but talent alone doesn’t play.
116. Hideaki Wakui, SP: It’s been nearly a decade since Wakui’s last great season in Japan, and though he’s a pure free agent, with no posting fee necessary, he’ll be lucky to get anything more than a minor league deal and a spring-training crack.
117. Geovany Soto, C: Over the last two seasons, Soto has played a total of 39 games. He will get a guaranteed deal anyway because free-agent catchers always do.
118. Chris Stewart, C: The consummate backup catcher. Giancarlo Stanton hit twice as many home runs in August 2017 as Stewart has over the 1,317 plate appearances of his career. Doesn’t matter. He’s got the rep. That’s 90 percent of the battle in the catcher market.
119. Cliff Pennington, UT: Last time he was a free agent, Pennington wound up with a two-year deal despite entering the offseason with a career on-base plus slugging of .657. Today, it’s down to .651, which makes Pennington likely to get at least three years.
120. Jesse Chavez, SP/RP: Reliably OK swingman who got got by the juiced ball. Nothing is worse in 2018 than a homer-prone pitcher, and Chavez’s history puts him in something of a precarious position.
121. Joe Blanton, RP: How does a pitcher more than double his ERA from one season to the next? Step 1: Allow home runs 2½ times as frequently. Step 2: See average on balls in play jump almost 90 points. Blanton isn’t as bad as he was last year. He isn’t as good as he was in 2016, either.
122. A.J. Ellis, C: Until he decides to manage, Ellis shouldn’t have trouble finding work as a backup catcher.
123. Dustin McGowan, RP: After struggling to stay healthy for so long, McGowan has logged at least 67 relief innings in three of the past four seasons. He’s a mop-up, early inning type, but nearly every team needs one of those, too.
124. Jose Lobaton, C: A guy who slashed .170/.248/.277 generally wouldn’t have much reason to enter the job market with optimism. Lobaton, on the other hand, is a switch-hitting catcher, and those get an exceedingly wide berth when it comes to tolerance threshold.
125. Ubaldo Jimenez, SP/RP: For the $50 million they paid Jimenez over the past four years, the Baltimore Orioles received 594 1/3 innings of 5.22 ERA baseball. Of all the guys to let slide on the physical rigmarole through which Baltimore puts pitchers who sign as free agents. Why’s he this high? As a pitching coach once said about Jimenez: “He’s just a tweak away from being great. Now you just need to figure out what the tweak actually is.”
126. Trevor Cahill, SP/RP: After 11 solid starts in San Diego, imploded in Kansas City. Cahill’s ability to start and relieve gives teams the sort of flexibility they desire.
127. Tyler Clippard, RP: The juiced ball has not been kind to Clippard, an extreme fly ball pitcher. Also worth noting: He’s sneaky young at just 32.
128. Joaquin Benoit, RP: Wants to join the elite club of 186 pitchers who have thrown in the big leagues during their age-40 season.
129. Gregor Blanco, OF: May need to play his way onto a team during spring training, but his speed is a valuable enough asset that he usually stays once he’s there.
130. Michael Saunders, OF: In the first half of the 2016 season, Saunders hit .298/.372/.551. He has fallen so badly it’s tough to see a team guaranteeing him much, if anything.
131. Bartolo Colon, SP: In lieu of fat jokes, age jokes and secret-second-family jokes, we’ll simply point out – blasphemous though it may be – that Bartolo Colon was a truly horrendous baseball player in 2017.
132. Glen Perkins, RP: May go for one last hurrah. May join a front office. Either way, a great mind to have in the game.
133. Trevor Rosenthal, RP: Chances are he’ll miss the season with Tommy John surgery, unless he pulls a Duke, which doesn’t make a ton of sense for someone who throws as hard as he does. There will be demand for him either way, though his immediate impact is negligible.
134. Darwin Barney, UT: That Darwin Barney, a decent defensive player and legitimately bad hitter, has logged nearly 3,000 career plate appearances and made more than $10 million in his career is proof that no matter how streamlined the decision-making process may be these days, plenty of cracks remain.
135. Huston Street, RP: The Angels signed Street to a two-year extension in the middle of the 2015 season. The deal cost them $683,545.17 per inning. In the past two years, Street suffered from injuries to his oblique area, knee, lat, shoulder and groin. At 34, he is clawing to salvage his career.
136. Chris Young, SP: Prepare for the unveiling of CY 3.0. Seriously. One person who has seen him this offseason believes he’s primed, at 38, for another comeback.
137. Hisashi Iwakuma, SP: Missing the last five months of the season with a shoulder injury isn’t exactly the way a pitcher wants to walk into free agency.
138. Pedro Alvarez, 1B: The rare player whose past performance hasn’t bought him another major league shot.
139. Trevor Plouffe, 3B: As bad as the beginning of his season in Oakland was, Plouffe somehow managed to get worse in Tampa Bay. Slashing .198/.272/.318 isn’t a particularly desirable walk-year result.
140. Jose Reyes, UT: Plays three infield positions, still can run, has some pop in his bat and is 18 months removed from a domestic-violence suspension.
141. Franklin Gutierrez, OF: Injury problems again plagued Gutierrez, whose potency against left-handed pitching makes him desirable nonetheless. He’s the sort who can sign a minor league deal and easily made the club out of spring.
142. Rene Rivera, C: Aw, yeah. It’s backup catcher time. And coming off a 10-homer season, Rivera will be only slightly less sought-after than Otani.
143. Mike Aviles, UT: Signed for $1,000, didn’t debut until after his 27th birthday and is still kicking around. As Francisco Lindor will attest: The perfect guy to teach young middle infielders how to survive in the big leagues.
144. Fernando Salas, RP: Classic relief enigma. Good one year, not as good the next, no rhyme or reason to it. Reason for hope: Salas added a little cutter last season that one scout said could turn into a regular pitch.
145. Erick Aybar, UT: It’s getting to be that point where a full-time utility role has come a-callin’ – and it’s a job he may have to win in spring training.
146. Drew Storen, RP: Will miss the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Faces the same decision as Pineda and Rosenthal as to whether he should sign a multiyear deal or rehab and come back like Holland did after his TJ.
147. Jonny Venters, RP: SIGNED Raise your hand if you knew he was still pitching? Yup. Same here. After three Tommy John surgeries and a fourth UCL tear, he’s still trying to make it back to the big leagues for the first time since 2012. He got to Triple-A last year. And it’s one hell of a story if he can jump that last level.
148. Adam Rosales, UT: Doesn’t quite have the glove to guarantee himself employment until his 40s, but has the feel of a stick-around-forever utility type.
149. Carlos Ruiz, C: Choooooooooooooooooooooch! (There’s really not a ton to say about a soon-to-be-39-year-old backup catcher, OK?)
150. Austin Bibens-Dirkx, SP: SIGNED Just hope you get the Bibens. Because the Dirkx. The Dirkx is trouble, man.
151. Christian Bethancourt, RP/C: The whole catcher-who-also-can-pitch experiment with San Diego blew up when it became apparent Bethancourt couldn’t throw strikes. He was wild at Triple-A, too. At just 26, though, he’s well worth a flyer and will continue to get bites for years because of his unique skill set.
152. Oswaldo Arcia, OF: Didn’t get a shot with Arizona after hitting .320/.410/.639 in the bonanza known as the Pacific Coast League. Still the sort who packs enough power to turn a minor league invite into something more.
153. Michael Martinez, UT: Plays everywhere in the infield and outfield. Runs the bases well enough. Can’t hit much, but that’s not what he’s around for anyway. Does Triple-A time and always winds up in the big leagues – six seasons and counting.
154. Andres Blanco, UT: With the retirement of Carlos Beltran, the final vestiges of the 2004 Royals are Zack Greinke, Bautista and Blanco. Pretty good company.
155. Hyun-soo Kim, OF: Following a solid rookie season, his power disappeared, and he’s likely to as well. From Major League Baseball. Not earth. That would be sad.
156. Jason Grilli, RP: It is not easy to give up 12 home runs in 40 innings. And a few years back, Grilli would’ve been one of the least likely suspects, as his home run rates teetered on the lower edge.
157. Edwin Jackson, SP/RP: Wanna feel old? If he pitches in the big leagues next year, it will be Jackson’s 16th season.
158. Jumbo Diaz, RP: The first Jumbo to play in the major leagues since Jumbo Brown in 1941. The proliferation of 1880s Jumbos – Davis, Harting, Latham, McGinnis and Schoeneck – would seem to suggest baseball was suffering from an obesity epidemic long before America. Of course, considering “Jumbo” Latham stood 5-foot-8 and weighed 164 pounds, perhaps that is not true.
160. Dillon Gee, SP/RP: Gee, this list is too freaking long.
161. Melvin Upton Jr., OF: SIGNED Amazing to think he’s still just 33 years old. His $72 million mess of a contract feels like it was a decade ago. Will take another crack at returning after playing just 12 games at Triple-A in 2017.
162. Nick Franklin, IF: Like Chris Taylor, only not very good.
163. Ryan Hanigan, C: Backup catcher. Will be employed in some manner or variety.
164. Blaine Boyer, RP: May he continue to carry the torch for Drake LaRoche.
165. Alexi Amarista, UT: Got 87 plate appearances at home for Colorado. Hit .214/.241/.274. That’s so bad it feels impossible.
166. Craig Gentry, OF: Once upon a time, he could hit a bit and play a nice center field. The embers of that bat remain warm. That glove vanished long ago and with it his utility as a backup center fielder.
167. Andrew Bailey, RP: Three April appearances. DL stint. One August appearance. DL stint. The last time Bailey threw more than 50 innings in a season was 2009.
168. Ike Davis, RP/1B: Threw 5 2/3 shutout innings in rookie ball for the Dodgers, whose field-to-mound transition of Kenley Jansen is the standard bearer.
169. Anthony Gose, RP/OF: Hit 99 mph in his first outing as a lefty reliever. Showed promise. Hit the DL with a sore elbow and never returned. At 27, he’ll be back at some point – and if ever he finds a modicum of control could get fast-tracked.
170. Alejandro De Aza, OF: Needs a strong 2018 season or may not get another crack at the big leagues.
171. Yovani Gallardo, SP/RP: SIGNED Gallardo found three extra miles per hour on his fastball last season, and even that couldn’t stop the runaway freight train that is his career from careening to an uglier place than before.
172. Matt Garza, SP: Ibid Gallardo, minus that whole extra-velo thing.
173. Craig Breslow, RP: If he doesn’t make a team out of spring, he’ll have a fallback option of joining Dan Haren, Brian Bannister and a cast of others in parlaying his intelligence into a position that bridges the front office and on-field personnel.
174. Tyler Collins, OF: Will pursue a major league contract this winter, only to find teams like this .
175. Peter Bourjos, CF: At least Bourjos used to make up for his mediocre bat with an elite glove. Now he’s just average in center field, too.
176. Mike Pelfrey, SP: Answer: Who is Mike Pelfrey? Question: This pitcher has somehow remained employed in 12 major league seasons, half of which he finished with a negative Wins Above Replacement, including 2017.
177. Gordon Beckham, UT: Gordon Beckham is 31 years old. Not sure what else to say because that seems so wrong.
178. Jordan Lyles, RP: Went from the mess that is Coors Field to the pitching heaven that is Petco Park and somehow managed to be far worse in San Diego. Ron Burgundy wasn’t even mad. It was amazing.
179. Ryan Flaherty, UT: Bravo to a guy who made it to six full years of service with a career .215/.284/.355 line. Seriously, that is incredibly impressive.
180. Michael Morse, OF/1B: Even if he never plays an inning of baseball again, hopefully he makes a full recovery from the concussion that ended his season – and that would never have happened if Hunter Strickland hadn’t held his ridiculous, petty, childish grudge on Bryce Harper and thrown at him, setting off the brawl in which Morse was injured.
181. Emilio Bonifacio, UT: Of the many amusing-to-look-at name pronunciations on Baseball Reference, his – \bone-i-FAW-see-yo\ – might win best of show. Also could take first place for the guy who seems incredibly old but isn’t. (Feels 37? Maybe 38? Reality? Only 32.)
182. Derek Norris, C: SIGNED From All-Star in 2014 to released in 2017 to suspended for the remainder of the season after allegedly abusing his girlfriend.
183. Anibal Sanchez, SP/RP: Among pitchers with at least 300 innings over the past three seasons, Sanchez has the single worst ERA, at 5.67. During that time, Detroit paid him $55.4 million.
184. Colby Rasmus, OF: Still not clear if he has any intentions of returning after quitting in the middle of the season. Whether he does or doesn’t, here’s to Rasmus finding contentment wherever life takes him.
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