Several teams are reportedly expected to be big spenders in MLB free agency this offseason, particularly those in big markets.
According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs are all expected to be major players on the free-agent market, as are some teams in smaller markets, like the St. Louis Cardinals, Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners.
Passan also noted that the Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers could be factors in free agency "should the right opportunities present themselves."
The key to the highest-spending team in free agency could be the status of outfielder Aaron Judge, who is testing the market after spending the first seven years of his career with the Yankees.
Passan reported that MLB executives he spoke to believe Judge will land a contract in the range of $320 million over eight years. Passan called the Yankees the favorites, but he noted that the Dodgers and Giants figure to be players for him as well.
While Judge is in line for one of the biggest contracts in MLB history after setting a new American League record with 62 home runs last season, other sizable deals could be doled out as well.
Sources told Passan that in addition to Judge, there is belief that Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, Dansby Swanson, Carlos Rodón, Jacob deGrom and Brandon Nimmo could all secure nine-figure contracts.
Two of those players are Mets—deGrom and Nimmo—plus the Mets have already signed closer Edwin Diaz to a new five-year, $102 million contract.
Mets owner Steve Cohen has been outspoken about his willingness to spend big money in order to build a World Series contender, and he took a step toward that last season by getting the Mets back to the playoffs.
Improving on that may require him to re-sign deGrom and Nimmo, while also being a player for other top free agents.
The Mets had MLB's highest payroll last season at over $287 million, followed by the Dodgers at over $275 million.
L.A. has not been hesitant to spend in recent years, and it will have to do that in order to re-sign Turner, who is perhaps the best free agent available aside from Judge. Even if Turner walks, the Dodgers feel to be in play for one of the other top shortstops available, such as Bogaerts, Correa or Swanson.