2022 MLB Free Agents: Rumors, Predictions for Nathan Eovaldi, Johnny Cueto and More

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxCorrespondent IDecember 21, 2022

2022 MLB Free Agents: Rumors, Predictions for Nathan Eovaldi, Johnny Cueto and More

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    Nathan Eovaldi
    Nathan EovaldiKathryn Riley/Getty Images

    As the 2022 edition of MLB free agency continues to unfold, the flood of big-name signings is beginning to subside.

    While the market didn't get off to the sort of furious start we see in sports like the NFL, once players like Aaron Judge and Jacob deGrom began inking contracts, it moved quickly.

    The latest development was the shocking turn of events surrounding Carlos Correa. The 28-year-old shortstop was slated to join the San Francisco Giants, but a medical issue arose before he signed, and the New York Mets stepped in and snagged him.

    According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, Correa will join New York on a 12-year, $315 million deal.

    Teams are now largely eying the second and third tiers of free agents, but a lot of quality players remain available. Some are under-the-radar complementary or rotational pieces. Others are older players who, while still quite capable, simply don't provide a tremendous long-term value.

    Here, we'll dive into some of the latest buzz and make a few predictions about three of the top players remaining on the open market, starting with arguably the best starting pitcher still available.

Nathan Eovaldi

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    Boston, MA - October 4: Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nate Eovaldi heads for the dugout after retiring the side in the top of the first inning. The Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 6-0. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
    Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

    This year's market for starting pitchers was quite hot, with players like deGrom, Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodón finding new teams in free agency.

    Nathan Eovaldi—who went 6-3 in starts last season with two complete games and a shutout—is still available, and there have been conflicting reports about his market.

    Rob Bradford of WEEI reported earlier this month that teams are interested in the 32-year-old, including the Toronto Blue Jays. However, he also reported that the Boston Red Sox weren't making a big effort to re-sign him.

    "According to a major league source, other teams are showing more interest in the free-agent pitcher than the level currently displayed by the Red Sox," Bradford wrote.

    Eovaldi, according to Bradford, declined a long-term offer from Boston and its one-year qualifying offer. This means that if another team signs Eovaldi, the Red Sox will receive draft-pick compensation.

    The potential to add an extra fourth-round pick may be the reason Boston hasn't put a ton of effort into pursuing the pitcher.

    However, Jon Morosi of MLB Network recently reported that many still expect Eovaldi to return to Boston.

    "I was chatting with some people in the industry yesterday, and there's still, I would say, some pretty good confidence on the part of a lot of people in baseball that Nate Eovaldi may well end up back with the Boston Red Sox," Morosi said on Hot Stove.

    A return would make sense, given the fact that many starting slots have already been filled. Boston may give Eovaldi his best opportunity to sign a favorable contract and play for a possible playoff contender.

    Prediction: Eovaldi re-signs with Boston

Johnny Cueto

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    CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 03: Johnny Cueto #47 of the Chicago White Sox reacts after giving up a two run home run to Gio Urshela #15 of the Minnesota Twins during a game at Guaranteed Rate Field on October 03, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
    Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

    Johnny Cueto is another starting pitcher who remains unsigned. He's coming off a somewhat disappointing campaign with the Chicago White Sox (8-10 as a starter), but the two-time All-Star remains more than serviceable.

    Though his record wasn't great, Cueto had a respectable 3.35 ERA last season, his lowest since 2018.

    According to Morosi, the Miami Marlins are interested in adding Cueto, but with a caveat.

    "One team that I was told that had some interest in Cueto. Miami Marlins. This is interesting because I believe that the interest from the Marlins in Cueto is somewhat contingent on the Marlins finding a spot for Pablo López," Morosi said on Hot Stove.

    This is not the first time we've heard of the Marlins trying to move López. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported back in August that Miami offered López and shortstop Miguel Rojas for the New York Yankees' Gleyber Torres and shortstop Oswald Peraza.

    Could Miami successfully move López this time around? It's certainly possible and a situation worth watching as teams begin running out of pitching options.

    However, there's no guarantee that Cueto will still be available by the time it happens. Morosi reported earlier this month that the Cincinnati Reds are interested in bringing back the 37-year-old.

    Cueto made his major-league debut with Cincinnati back in 2008, and he spent eight years with the club. A reunion would make sense for the rebuilding Reds and perhaps for Cueto, who could potentially finish his career where it started.

    Prediction: Reds sign Cueto while López remains available as a potential deadline trade target.

Evan Longoria

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 02: Evan Longoria #10 of the San Francisco Giants looks on before the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Oracle Park on October 02, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
    Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    We haven't heard a ton of recent buzz on veteran third baseman Evan Longoria. However, the 37-year-old is hoping to play with a contender this season, according to Heyman.

    "Free agent Evan Longoria hopes to play one or two more years and is open to any competitive team," Heyman tweeted last month.

    While Longoria can't be viewed as a long-term building block, he'd be a logical addition for a team looking to win now. Last season, he appeared in 89 games and batted .244 with 14 home runs and 42 RBI.

    Earlier this month, Heyman reported that the Arizona Diamondbacks were "one of about five teams" looking at Longoria.

    However, the recent developments surrounding Correa could open the door for a return to San Francisco.

    Correa is expected to play third base for New York, and that might have been the plan in San Francisco as well. With Correa now out of the picture for the Giants, bringing back Longoria would be logical.

    Yes, the Giants declined Longoria's option and instead gave him a $5 million buyout. However, as Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reported, there was "some talk from both sides that a compromise could be reached."

    Expect Longoria and the Giants to revisit a contract compromise.

    Prediction: Longoria returns to San Francisco

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