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Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Top 50 MLB free agents: Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman, Max Scherzer among big names available this winter

1 Carlos Correa
HOUSTON ASTROS SS
Correa is such a talent that if he didn’t exist a video-game player would have created him. He’s a well-above-average hitter who walked and struck out at personal-best rates last season, and he did so while achieving maximum exit velocities that were on par with all-world sluggers like Juan Soto and Yordan Alvarez. Unlike Soto and Alvarez, two corner outfielders celebrated more for their work at the dish than in the grass, Correa is a highly proficient defensive shortstop with a big-time arm. He’s constructed of flesh and bone, meaning there are negatives to consider. His attendance was spotty earlier in his career, and it’s to be seen if he can maintain his high level of durability (he appeared in 92 percent of Houston’s games in 2020-21) as he nears his 30s. He’s also no longer a stolen-base threat, the way he was when he first broke into The Show. (He hasn’t attempted one during the regular season since April 2019.) There’s also the sign-stealing scandal. The George Springer precedent suggests Correa won’t have a Poe-like moment this winter, his heart pounding like so many trash-can thuds as lower-than-expected offers pour in. Truthfully, even if teams had shown any inclination to punish Astros players in that manner, they might make an exception for Correa. He might just win an MVP Award someday and, per the authority of this list, is the best player available on the market.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 03, 2021 at 12:55 PM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: free agents

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   1. Rough Carrigan Posted: November 03, 2021 at 01:15 PM (#6051003)
Correa's mustache is . . not good. There. I said something critical.
   2. The Duke Posted: November 03, 2021 at 02:29 PM (#6051023)
CBS must have hit “send” on this as Dansby was making his throw to first
   3. Darren Posted: November 03, 2021 at 03:27 PM (#6051037)
The writing style of this was quite pithy in a way that you don't see as much these days. Hard to pull off without being really annoying but I think the author does a good job.

Correa reminds me a little of Harper. Great talent, up and down with some injuries, then hitting the market at a very young age. Correa's never had a year like Harper's 2015 but he did have a much better walk year.
   4. Adam Starblind Posted: November 03, 2021 at 03:54 PM (#6051041)
Hope the Mets make him their third baseman (he says he's open to 3B). Much more likely to get all-star production out of him than out of Kris Bryant, to whom they are frequently linked. And Bryant is going to expect to be paid like the MVP candidate he isn't.
   5. bfan Posted: November 03, 2021 at 03:56 PM (#6051042)
It is a very good year for free agent talent when Freddie Freeman is 5th and Max Scherzer is 7th.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: November 03, 2021 at 04:48 PM (#6051058)
That seems like an insanely deep class. You're about 40 deep before you start running into players you're not 100% sure you'd want to add to a winning team. Conforto 21, Canha 26, Rodon 29, Alex Wood 39, DeSclafini 40. A complete lack of catchers though ... maybe a good time for the Cubs to trade Contreras. Never knew Canha was a rule 5, that worked out well.

Especially given their ages, I can't argue with Correa and Seager at 1-2. The ordering starts to get wobbly there though as age takes over -- nearly everybody seems ranked too high, which of course can't be true. Bryant turning 30; Semien (2 great seasons and a bunch of meh) turns 31; I think I might prefer Freeman's stability even though he's turning 32. Robbie Ray at #7 seems too high -- it's one outstanding season -- but he'll do well. I know it was a bit of a blah season by his standards, but Story is too low at 11 -- the only thing that might deflate him is that there are so many SS on the market. I don't know where I'd stick him but, as nice a player as Starling Marte is, everybody would rather have Story -- I wouldn't be surprised if most would rather have Story than Bryant.

They admit it but their Chris Taylor (#12) love seems a bit much. I guess it depends on what you're ranking by -- every team would love to have him, but how much/long will they pay for that privilege? They mention Hernandez but Hernandez only got 2/$14 and Taylor is 2 years older when hitting the market. Granted back in the day, the Cubs gave 4/$56 to Zobrist and Taylor's probably a better bet than LeMahieu so maybe he will hit a big payday.

The gap between Eduardo Rodriguez, who's in the fragile/injured stud pitcher range, and Carlos Rodon, a fragile possible stud, doesn't make sense to me. ERod slightly more durable but both have a career 110 ERA+, similar peripherals and Rodon coming off the much better season. I'd probably move Rodon up a bit, ERod down a bit ... not a big deal.

Now I'm down to Eduardo Escobar at 41 and I think we're in the Cubs' market. Tommy Pham seems a perfect fit for the hapless 2022 Cubs. If we get an NL DH, I can see Nelson Cruz ending up with the Cubs too which could be actual fun.
   7. Padraic Posted: November 04, 2021 at 12:25 PM (#6051239)
The writing style of this was quite pithy in a way that you don't see as much these days. Hard to pull off without being really annoying but I think the author does a good job.


Agreed. This is a lot of fun to read. The line, "Belt's season was more confusing than dancing to "Desolation Row," is brilliant, and so is the link.
   8. sunday silence (again) Posted: November 04, 2021 at 03:48 PM (#6051294)
Semien (2 great seasons and a bunch of meh) turns 31


The three seasons prior to that should avg out to 3.7 WAR if we extrapolate the season he missed half of. He's also been very consistent both off and def. If anyone can sustain 8 WAR/season for a couple years it might be him.
   9. sunday silence (again) Posted: November 04, 2021 at 04:34 PM (#6051305)
Semien had a stellar year base stealing but I guess we cant expect his speed to hold up. On the other hand he rarely makes tootblans (any out on the bases where he wasnt forced). Rbaser gave him 4 runs credit last year which seems fair, but probably more than we can expect going forward.

Looking at statcast his range was good this year, but below avg. the two previous years. He seems to be involved in a lot of DPs so maybe should give some credit there. He also hardly seems to make the killing throwing error with men on base (only one last year in the final game). Stat cast seems to like him most seasons so I wont disagree.

If he can provide 20 WAR over the next 5 seasons what is that worth?
   10. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: November 04, 2021 at 04:48 PM (#6051307)
Late bloomers scare me. Anecotally it seems like they fade early as well. Semien is a star but I wonder how long that is going to last. He's going to command a huge deal, and why not for the way he's played the last couple of full seasons? But man he's going to be 31 and given the number of elite middle infielders on the market I'd rather pursue one of them.

Rodon is a tricky one. He's been an decent pitcher then had an elite season this year but once again, couldn't get through a full season. Rodriguez has never had an arm problem* and is a pretty reliable every fifth day guy. Other than a minor difference in 2016 (ERA+ 100 vs. 95) he's been better than Rodon every other year except of course 2021. Rodon has a bit of the Rich Harden to him in my mind. As good as he is he just can't take the ball every five days and for the money he's likely to command I'd stay away from that.

*which of course means he is going to have one soon because pitchers
   11. Dillon Gee Escape Plan Posted: November 04, 2021 at 05:30 PM (#6051315)
Rodon is a tricky one. He's been an decent pitcher then had an elite season this year but once again, couldn't get through a full season. Rodriguez has never had an arm problem* and is a pretty reliable every fifth day guy. Other than a minor difference in 2016 (ERA+ 100 vs. 95) he's been better than Rodon every other year except of course 2021. Rodon has a bit of the Rich Harden to him in my mind. As good as he is he just can't take the ball every five days and for the money he's likely to command I'd stay away from that.


Eduardo also has 187 more innings despite sitting 2020 out. Both have been in the league since 2015. Harden is a good comp for Rodon.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: November 04, 2021 at 07:14 PM (#6051336)
Meh. ERod didn't make more than 24 starts in a season until 2019. He has taken all his turns in 2019 and 2021 and presumably 2021 means no lasting covid effects. But then in 2021, it was exactly 5 IP/start and a 100 ERA+ (with much better peripherals). Rodon's durability track record is of course even worse.

But the article lists ERod directly after Kershaw, Verlander and Thor. Obviously all of those guys carry big warning flags such that you might stay away ... but if you do get the real thing, you get an elite starter. If you get the real thing with ERod, you get a good #2 starter.

Meanwhile Rodon is down at #29, 12 spots behind ERod and also behind Gray, Kluber and even Matz.

2015-21

ERod 857 IP, 110 ERA+, 15.6 bWAR (6 in 2019)
Gray 829 IP, 107 ERA+, 12.2 WAR
Kluber 972 IP, 141 ERA+, 24.6 (but only 116 IP, 1 WAR the last 3 years)
Matz 730 IP, 96 ERA+, 8.7 WAR (durable 5 inning starter the last 4 years)
Rodon 669 IP, 110 ERA+, 11.5 WAR

Fair enough, ERod's WAR gap over Gray and Rodon is bigger than I expected (the difference is half park effect and half the extra IP). Still I think ERod is closer to Gray/Rodon than to Kershaw/Verlander. (Thor & Kluber are pretty much pure gambles at this point.)

Rich Harden is a pretty good comp for Rodon. But a healthy ERod is probably in the range of 150-IP versions of Gio Gonzalez, Peavy, Liriano -- call it 7-10 WAR for 29-32. (All better than Harden who was done at 29.) Maybe I need further adjustments to achieve the "150 IP a year is durable" mindset. :-)

I don't think there's any risk of Rodon pulling down big bucks or a long-term contract. I'm not suggesting him as a good FA target even. I'm just suggesting I wouldn't be offering big bucks or lots of years to ERod either but, sure, I'd be more comfy with 3-4 years for ERod than Rodon. But given I expect Kershaw, Verlander, Thor to get solid 1-year offers (in the $12 (Thor) to $24 range say), I'd rather make that sort of offer to Rodon, maybe even over 2 years, than ERod.

But then I was usually in favor of gambling on Harden too. That guy was well ahead of these guys though -- on a rate basis he was one of the best pitchers in baseball. For 2005-8, 171 ERA+, 11 WAR, 8 WAA in just 350 IP. Even 100 IP of Harden was worth 180 IP of ERod. Until it wasn't of course which came unsurprisingly quickly for him. Rodon's not remotely in that class but probably isn't that fragile.
   13. BDC Posted: November 04, 2021 at 07:21 PM (#6051339)
Rangers' beat writer Kennedi Landry speculates that the Rangers will try to sign a shortstop because there are a lot of shortstops on offer, and then move Isiah Kiner-Falefa, one of their few adequate players, off of shortstop, which is the only position he can hit well enough to hold down. Geez, one step forward one step back.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: November 04, 2021 at 07:41 PM (#6051342)
On Semien: I abstain. In part because stathead does not allow you do to one search (say producation ages 27-30), save it then use that list as the basis for a new search (say producation ages 31-35). P-I used to let you do that. Without that, it's just a lot of unnecessary work to do proper comps. Why you would downgrade your product, getting rid of possibly its most useful feature, while charging more for it is a mystery.

But the demise of 2Bs in their 30s has been greatly overstated (even by me!!). I can never remember if it was SOSH or Jose but one of them looked at it pretty thoroughly. More anecdotally, Lopes, Sandberg, Grich, Bret Boone, Utley, Joe Gordon, Alomar, Zobrist, Kinsler all had 19-22 WAR over ages 31-35. (Cano, Morgan, Carew better although Carew not really a 2B by that point.) You can add somewhat similar non-2B like Mora, O'Neill, Gardner, Hunter, Puckett, Ripken, Reggie Smith, Burks, Beltran, Dw Evans, Brian Jordan, Justin Turner, Jose Cruz, Ken Boyer.

That's some HoFers, a bunch of HoVGers and a wild card or two and obviously rarer than those who faded away at those ages. So who knows if Semien will join that group but it wouldn't be surprising. By Rfield his SS defense was better than I realized so his 2B defense should be average to good for at least a few more years yet. If that's the case then even if the bat goes back to average, he should put up 8-12 WAR over the next 5 years -- nobody would pay big $ for that if they knew it was coming but as realistic downsides go, it's pretty good. The two monster years suggest that the realistic upside might be around 25 ... my gut says no but no reason you should trust my gut. Anyway, give him two more big years and 20 WAR is pretty much in the bag and he'll come close enough with one more big year or 2 very good years.

In theory 20 WAR over the next 5 years should be worth at least $160 M ... but nobody's giving Semien that. Even at 17 WAR, he "should" get 5/$135 but I don't think so. But, while everybody views it as a mistake now, LeMahieu got $90 M for ages 32-37. A better comp than I expected -- LeMahiue had 20 WAR in the 5 years previous, Semien 22 WAR, basically identical dWARs, but LeMahieu's production more consistent. So contradicting myself, I'll WAG Semien in the 5/$110-120 range ... max $130-135. Obviously there may be some deferring, etc. so a 6-year contract wouldn't surprise me (through the magical age 36). (Back to the projection ... if 22 WAR from ages 26-30, you almost have to take the under on the 31-35 projection ... so something like 17 WAR is probably about right for a median expectation.)
   15. Adam Starblind Posted: November 04, 2021 at 09:38 PM (#6051352)
Jeff Kent was a late bloomer who made out alright in his 30s. Too lazy to do a comparison.
   16. Darren Posted: November 05, 2021 at 11:27 AM (#6051392)
They admit it but their Chris Taylor (#12) love seems a bit much. I guess it depends on what you're ranking by -- every team would love to have him, but how much/long will they pay for that privilege?


A number of teams seem to really value versatility beyond what we can see in the numbers. I can see the Dodgers, Rays, or Red Sox paying more than one might expect for him.
   17. Darren Posted: November 05, 2021 at 11:33 AM (#6051394)
2015-21

ERod 857 IP, 110 ERA+, 15.6 bWAR (6 in 2019)
Gray 829 IP, 107 ERA+, 12.2 WAR
Kluber 972 IP, 141 ERA+, 24.6 (but only 116 IP, 1 WAR the last 3 years)
Matz 730 IP, 96 ERA+, 8.7 WAR (durable 5 inning starter the last 4 years)
Rodon 669 IP, 110 ERA+, 11.5 WAR


How relevant are the 2015 numbers to teams looking to sign these guys for 2022 and beyond? 2016-18 are similarly of little value. The most recent 2 to 3 years seems like the most relevant data. Recent examples include: Wheeler, who had some health issues but put up a good and healthy 2018-19, which landed him a five-year deal; Strasburg, who really had just one healthy season before getting 7 years; and Scherzer, who had only established himself as an ace before getting 7 years.

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