2021 MLB Free Agents: Rumors, Predictions for Max Scherzer, Anthony Rizzo, More

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistOctober 7, 2021

2021 MLB Free Agents: Rumors, Predictions for Max Scherzer, Anthony Rizzo, More

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The 2021 MLB postseason is underway. Tuesday and Wednesday brought us the wild-card games—with the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers advancing—and divisional series are set to begin Thursday.

    While eight teams are still alive in the race to win the World Series, the rest of Major League Baseball is turning its attention to the offseason. Free agency, which is set to begin on November 1, is going to play a big part. As is usually the case, more than a few notable players are scheduled to become available.

    Here you'll find the latest buzz and some predictions for a few of the top players headed to the open market.

Max Scherzer

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Baseball fans got a good look at Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer on Wednesday night. He started and pitched into the fifth inning, allowing only one run en route to a 3-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Los Angeles will now face the San Francisco Giants in the divisional round.

    Non-Dodgers fans are likely wondering what's next for the 37-year-old. While he's still pitching at a high level, the three-time Cy Young Award-winner is entering the latter stages of his career.

    According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, we are likely to see Scherzer pitch for at least a few more seasons.

    "Have heard Max Scherzer would like to pitch into his 40s," Heyman tweeted. "So that would mean a three-year-plus deal. At 37, remarkably, he’s still at the top of his game, so a record annual salary is all but assured."

    Scherzer is likely to land a large contract wherever he goes in the offseason, so his decision may hinge more on his title chances. Despite already having a Hall of Fame-worthy career, Scherzer has just one World Series win, which came in 2019 with the Washington Nationals.

    Acquired from Washington in July, Scherzer has played a big role in getting L.A. to the postseason. If the Dodgers make a deep playoff run, the idea of another ring in Los Angeles could become a huge draw.

    As MLB Network's Mark Feinsand pointed out before the trade deadline, Scherzer "strongly" preferred going to the West Coast in the first place. Staying with the Dodgers seems logical if Scherzer views them as long-term contenders.

    Prediction: Scherzer re-signs with Los Angeles.

Anthony Rizzo

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Unlike Scherzer, New York Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo won't get to continue playing in the postseason. New York fell to Boston 6-2 on Tuesday, which could mark the end of Rizzo's tenure with the club.

    Rizzo, who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs at the deadline, was actually a candidate to join Boston.

    "The Cubs have at least had preliminary conversations with Boston about a deal for Rizzo, according to sources," ESPN's Jeff Passan wrote in July.

    Rizzo's next destination will be firmly in the three-time All-Star's hands. However, teams may not be clamoring for his services. According to Passan, Rizzo's trade market was "not so robust."

    There's a big difference between signing a player and surrendering assets for a short-term rental, but there's also no guarantee that multiple teams still view Rizzo as a legitimate difference-maker—his most recent All-Star season came in 2016.

    The Yankees obviously do value him, and his transition to the team left a positive impression on Rizzo.

    "Being able to fit in right away was my biggest thing," Rizzo said, per Pete Caldera of NorthJersey.com.

    Per Caldera, Rizzo also appreciated joining a Yankees team whose core "has been here for a while."

    Given Boston's preliminary interest in Rizzo, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Red Sox at least engage with him this offseason. Rizzo could have some interest in playing on the other side of the New York-Boston rivalry too.

    "This is the best rivalry in baseball," Rizzo said, per Caldera.

    Of course, Rizzo already knows that he's wanted by and fits with the Yankees.

    Prediction: Rizzo re-signs with New York.

Marcus Stroman

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Pitcher Marcus Stroman was traded from the Toronto Blue Jays to the New York Mets in 2019. He opted out of the 2020 season and returned this year to compile a 10-13 record with a 3.02 ERA.

    Now, Stroman is set to hit the open market, and the San Diego Padres appear to be interested.

    "According to people familiar with preliminary deliberations, the Padres are expected to pursue another veteran starter, with free agent Marcus Stroman having been among the names mentioned," Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote.

    San Diego would be an intriguing landing spot—at one point, they were one of the most exciting teams in baseball this season. With a few more pieces on the promising roster, the Padres could become legitimate contenders.

    However, Stroman may have already hinted at his preferred destination on Twitter:

    "Yankees could have been dangerous if they got in. Stanton was unreal in the second-half. Judge was an MVP caliber player all year. Urshela is unreal. Bullpen was pretty filthy all year. In the end, just needed some more quality starting pitcher depth!"

    Presumably, Stroman views himself as "quality starting pitcher depth," and he would be an asset to a New York team looking to take the next step. The Yankees have never been shy about spending to strengthen their roster, so if Stroman is interested and New York views him as one of the best available options, this would be a logical pairing.

    Prediction: Stroman signs with the Yankees.