Record-breaking New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge reportedly headlines a group of nine MLB players expected to receive contracts of at least $100 million this offseason.
One player, New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz, already joined the nine-figure club by signing a $102 million extension. ESPN's Jeff Passan reported other members of the group expected to join Diaz and Judge via free agency, which opens Thursday at 5 p.m. ET:
- SS Trea Turner (Los Angeles Dodgers)
- SS Carlos Correa (Minnesota Twins)
- SS Xander Bogaerts (Boston Red Sox)
- SS Dansby Swanson (Atlanta Braves)
- OF Brandon Nimmo (New York Mets)
- SP Carlos Rodón (San Francisco Giants)
- SP Jacob deGrom (New York Mets)
Nimmo is the only name on the list that may catch some people by surprise given his modest counting stats across seven seasons with the Mets. He's recorded just 63 home runs and 23 stolen bases in 608 career appearances.
That said, the 29-year-old center fielder gets on base at a high rate (.385 career on-base percentage) and plays solid defense (six outs above average in 2022, per FanGraphs).
Agent Scott Boras said Wednesday a "majority" of teams have already called him about Nimmo.
"You are looking at a guy that there are no center fielders in our game that are available," Boras told reporters. "And then you add leadoff to that and then you add ... on-base percentage to that, and he's an excellent defender and then also he can play in New York. When you have those elements that are there, he becomes a very integral part of what we found for a team to win 100 games. He's a very proven commodity and there are very few that can replace him."
Otherwise, two intriguing storylines early in free agency will be whether the Yankees can keep pace in the Judge sweepstakes and which star shortstop signs first to set the market at the position.
New York can't afford to lose Judge and expect to remain a top-tier contender in the American League. He carried the club's offense for extended stretches in 2022 en route to setting the new AL home run record with 62.
As Boras alluded, there aren't many great options available in center field, and even the dropoff from Judge to Nimmo is rather significant. So the ability to re-sign the 6'7'' slugger is a make-or-break situation for the Yanks.
Meanwhile, all four of the top-tier shortstops available should surpass the $100 million mark if they're willing to sign long-term deals.
Swanson, who's often ranked fourth on the list and could sign first to help set the baseline for the others, finds himself in a similar situation to Freddie Freeman last offseason. He's spent his entire career with the Braves but hits the market without a new deal.
Freeman left to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Swanson may follow him out the Truist Park door, leaving Atlanta with a void at shortstop.
All told, a lot of money is going to get spent over the next few months and, given the high-end talent available, the clubs willing to open their checkbooks could put themselves at the forefront of the 2023 championship chase.