MLB Free Agents 2022: Rumors and Predictions for Top Available Players
Major League Baseball's explosive offseason has seen enormous contracts offered to the game's best, but several coveted players remain in search of a new team.
One such player is 2017 World Series champ and All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa.
In an offseason that has treated Trea Turner and Xander Bogaerts very well financially, he could be the next player to cash in on a club's desire to chase what he already has: a world title ring.
What is the latest on Correa, fellow shortstop Dansby Swanson and what is the current situation with the Baltimore Orioles following a surprisingly competitive 2022 campaign?
Find out with this latest collection of rumors and reports from the sport's top insiders.
Who Will (and Will Not) Be Players in the Carlos Correa Sweepstakes?
Shortstop Carlos Correa leapt to the top of the free-agency list after the recent signings of Aaron Judge, Trea Turner, Justin Verlander and Jacob deGrom, and according to the latest from baseball insiders, we have a better understanding of who will and will not be jockeying for his services.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Los Angeles Dodgers, despite their need for a shortstop following Turner's departure, will not pursue Correa. The former Houston Astro was a fierce defender of the 2017 World Series champions amid sign-stealing accusations.
The team they defeated for that championship? The Dodgers.
Fan resentment is a big motivating factor, as is the payout of Trevor Bauer's contract, per Rosenthal. The pitcher is currently serving a two-year suspension for violating the team's domestic violence and sexual assault conduct policy, and the team is waiting to see if MLB upholds its decision.
While the 2020 World champions may not be in on Correa, the Giants are, according to NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic.
San Francisco appeared to be the favorite to land Aaron Judge before New York came through with a monster nine-year, $360 million deal that lured the historic slugger back to the Big Apple.
In need of a hitter and shortstop, it makes sense that the team would eye Correa. That he is at the top of their list bodes well for him, as does the monster market for his position.
Correa is a veteran player coming off his best batting average (.291) since the World Series season (.315) and has experience on the biggest stages the sport has to offer. He would be a great addition to a Giants team that has been to the postseason only twice since 2015.
Prediction: Correa signs with San Francisco, who cannot afford to miss out on another desired free agent
A Surprise Team in the Dansby Swanson Chase?
The other free-agent shortstop still garnering considerable attention is 2021 world champion Dansby Swanson.
According to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi, the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs are not out of the race for the All-Star.
The Cardinals, in particular, have Morosi's attention in regards to the shortstop position:
"The Cardinals to me, I've been hearing from multiple sources, are very active in the shortstop market and it's certainly easy to understand why. They have a very good group of position players … but Swanson would allow them to utilize [Tommy] Edman and [Brendan] Donovan in a lot of different ways."
The emphasis on St. Louis is a contrast from many other reports, which have left the NL team out of the shortstop discussion. Morosi certainly makes a good point about the flexibility acquiring Swansby would provide the Cardinals, while St. Louis is also closer to winning than the Cubs, despite that team's offseason acquisitions to this point.
Swanson would bring 25 home runs, an on-base percentage of .329 and a batting average of .277 to the team.
That is better, statistically, than Tommy Edman, who the team converted from second base to shortstop in 2022. If they can make it work financially, and Swansby sees St. Louis as the most attractive option for him and his long-term goals, it would behoove the Cardinals to make the deal before another team jumps in front of them.
Prediction: Swanson signs with the Cubs on a higher contract than he may have, thanks to Cardinals speculation driving up his price.
Latest on the Orioles' Offseason Plans
The Baltimore Orioles exceeded even the loftiest of expectations in 2022, climbing into playoff contention through the end of the regular season. Despite the upward momentum they enjoyed, the team is not expected to offer any long-term deals this offseason, per Dan Connolly of The Athletic.
Dan Connolly @danconnolly2016
As the winter meetings continue and the second-tier pitchers come off the board, it's becoming increasingly clearer that the Orioles aren't planning to give lengthy deals to free agents. At this juncture I'd be surprised if they go beyond 2-3 years to anyone. If they go that far.
Sticking to short-term deals within the two-to-three-year range may prove problematic in landing a top free agent, most of which will be looking for longer commitments than that. The New York Post's Jon Heyman previously reported that the Orioles were previously in on former Giants lefty Carlos Rodón.
That Rodon is seeking a six-year deal, also reported by Heyman, would seemingly eliminate Baltimore from the competition.
The Post's Joel Sherman reported that the team also held a Zoom meeting with Phillies starter Noah Syndergaard. Since he's not quite the dominant thrower he once was, with some health questions following his 2020 Tommy John surgery, he would be more likely to fit the Orioles' desired conditions.
Syndergaard would provide veteran leadership to an Orioles rotation that includes Dean Kremer, Austin Voth, Kyle Brandish and other young arms. The question is whether the pitcher affectionately known to fans as "Thor" would be overwhelmingly enthused to pitch in a double-tough AL East that includes the home run-heavy Yankees, Blue Jays and Red Sox.
Prediction: The O's sign Syndergaard to a two-year deal