Building Each Team's Wish List Once MLB Free Agency Resumes

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterDecember 6, 2021

Building Each Team's Wish List Once MLB Free Agency Resumes

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Though nobody knows for sure when Major League Baseball's lockout will be over, it won't last forever. And whenever it ends, teams will inevitably pick up where they left off in their offseason shopping.

    So, we got ahead of the game by freshening up each team's free-agent wish lists.

    In some cases, this simply involved identifying players in whom teams are already known to be interested. In others, it meant speculating on players who should be on teams' radars because of how well they'd fit the clubs' needs and resources.

    To keep things from getting too lengthy, we kept it to three players per team. For most clubs, the idea should be to get all three players. For others, there are either/or scenarios that could be in play.

    We'll go division by division, starting in the American League East and ending in the National League West.

American League East

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    Freddie Freeman
    Freddie FreemanAshley Landis/Associated Press

    Baltimore Orioles

    1. RHP Garrett Richards: He's a bit of a project in a post-sticky-stuff world, but he'd nonetheless be a low-risk, high-reward signing in the same vein as their deal with starting pitcher Jordan Lyles.

    2. RHP Vince Velasquez: He's another fallen pitcher who needs a fresh start, and he happens to have a connection to O's general manager Mike Elias from their days with the Houston Astros.

    3. C Stephen Vogt: Top prospect Adley Rutschman is Baltimore's catcher of the future, yet Vogt would be a good veteran stopgap and a valuable imparter of wisdom for the youngster.

                

    Boston Red Sox

    1. 1B Freddie Freeman: Maybe he's a long shot for Boston, but he'd be an offensive and especially a defensive upgrade for a first base spot that produced all of 0.1 rWAR in 2021.

    2. OF Seiya Suzuki: Though he also interests the Yankees and Blue Jays, according to Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal, the Red Sox's interest in the Japanese slugger is underscored by an actual need in right field.

    3. RHP Kenley Jansen: A bullpen arm is also among Boston's needs, so why not target the best closer the market still has to offer?

            

    New York Yankees

    1. SS Carlos Correa: Let's just say that reports of their unwillingness to break the bank for the shortstop they clearly need don't pass the smell test.

    2. 1B Freddie Freeman: If the Yankees are serious about their shortstop situation, they could at least acquire the left-handed bat they need by realizing their interest in Freeman, which MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported.

    3. LHP Carlos Rodon: His durability is a major question mark, but he's nonetheless the kind of high-upside arm the Yankees need in their rotation after Gerrit Cole.

           

    Tampa Bay Rays

    1. DH Nelson Cruz: He was weirdly just OK in his brief stint as a Ray, but there's still a spot for him at designated hitter on the off chance that his market keeps him in Tampa's price range.

    2. 3B Kyle Seager: Or, the Rays could seek the power bat they need by signing Seager fresh off a 35-homer campaign.

    3. RHP Carlos Martinez: It just wouldn't be a proper Rays winter if they didn't take a flier on a broken pitcher, so how about a two-time All-Star who showed promise in relief in 2019?

           

    Toronto Blue Jays

    1. 1B Freddie Freeman: Because Vladimir Guerrero Jr. could move back over to third base or into an everyday role at DH, the Blue Jays absolutely should maintain their interest, which Heyman relayed, in Freeman.

    2. 3B Kyle Seager: If not Freeman, Seager would fit the Jays well as a needed left-handed slugger and an everyday upgrade over Santiago Espinal at the hot corner.

    3. RHP Kenley Jansen: As good as Jordan Romano was in the late innings last season, the Jays pen would benefit from adding another relief ace.

American League Central

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    Aaron Gash/Associated Press

    Chicago White Sox

    1. LHP Carlos Rodon: With respect to Clayton Kershaw, reuniting with Rodon is the best way the White Sox can satisfy their desire for a "front -ine starter," which USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported they are seeking.

    2. 2B Donovan Solano: Matching a free agent to Chicago's other desire for a second baseman is trickier, but Solano is a bat-to-ball guy who'd fit well in its lineup.

    3. LF Eddie Rosario: This one's more of a reach, but signing the reigning NLCS MVP would allow the Sox to move Eloy Jimenez to DH, where he belongs.

          

    Cleveland Guardians

    1. LF Kyle Schwarber: He's the left-handed thumper they sorely need, though we're assuming they'd be willing to use some of their ample payroll space on him.

    2. RF Michael Conforto: If not Schwarber, the Guardians could do worse than a dice-roll on a guy who ran a 134 OPS+ from 2017 to 2020.

    3. SS Andrelton Simmons: If they want to free up Amed Rosario or Andres Gimenez to play a utility role, signing this noted defensive genius would be a good way to do it. 

          

    Detroit Tigers

    1. LHP Carlos Rodon: Maybe they don't need to fill the rotation spot formerly occupied by Matthew Boyd, but stealing Rodon from the White Sox would be a heck of a way to do it.

    2. 3B/OF Kris Bryant: If not a notable arm, the Tigers should use their riches to acquire another former Cub who could play all over the field for them.

    3. RHP Collin McHugh: Detroit could also use another bullpen arm, and McHugh is a good one who also has ties to manager A.J. Hinch from when they were in Houston.

              

    Kansas City Royals

    1. LHP Danny Duffy: Since there's room for a veteran in the Royals rotation, they should ring up the guy who once said he wanted to be buried a Royal.

    2. LHP Tyler Anderson: If not Duffy, Anderson is a reliable innings-eater whose fly-ball style would play better at Kauffman Stadium than at most other ballparks.

    3. IF/OF Jake Bauers: Signing the 26-year-old would fit within the Royals' recent track record of adding former prospects who have flamed out elsewhere yet are also still young.

         

    Minnesota Twins

    1. LHP Carlos Rodon: The Twins made a nice buy-low addition when they signed Dylan Bundy just before the lockout, but Rodon more closely matches the description of the No. 1 starter they really need.

    2. LHP Clayton Kershaw: If not Rodon, the Twins could try to lure a guy with three Cy Young Awards in his past and a Hall of Fame plaque in his future.

    3. RHP Richard Rodriguez: Since the Twins could also use another bullpen arm, taking a flier on a guy who was a hidden gem before he crashed and burned in Atlanta would be worth their while.

American League West

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    Clayton Kershaw
    Clayton KershawNick Wass/Associated Press

    Houston Astros

    1. SS Carlos Correa: The Astros' last reported offer to Correa was of the extreme low-ball variety, but he may yet return if his post-lockout market isn't as crowded as he's hoping.

    2. SS Trevor Story: More realistically, though, the Astros have a better shot at filling their hole at shortstop with the next-best player on that particular market.

    3. RHP Garrett Richards: It could be tough to sign him without a guarantee of a rotation spot, but he'd nonetheless fit Houston well as a swingman type.

    Los Angeles Angels

    1. LHP Clayton Kershaw: There's plenty of upside in Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen, but Kershaw is the best the Angels can do as far as adding someone with more reliability to their rotation.

    2. SS Trevor Story: Tyler Wade isn't the best choice for a viable everyday shortstop, so the Angels should at least be monitoring Story.

    3. OF Tommy Pham: Youngsters Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh have a ton of talent, but Pham would serve the Angels well as a Plan B should either of them falter in the spotlight. 

           

    Oakland Athletics

    1. OF Joc Pederson: He's probably the best they can do in terms of a left-handed platoon partner for Chad Pinder and Stephen Piscotty.

    2. RHP Richard Rodriguez: The A's also badly need to restock their bullpen, and he'd be just as good of a low-risk addition for them as he would for any other team.

    3. RHP Hunter Strickland: He was quite good for the Milwaukee Brewers down the stretch of 2021, and he's no stranger to the Bay Area after beginning his career with the San Francisco Giants.

          

    Seattle Mariners

    1. 3B/OF Kris Bryant: He's reportedly on their radar, according to Robert Murray of FanSided, and rightfully so given that he'd replace some of the power the Mariners lost when they cut Seager loose. 

    2. SS Trevor Story: Murray also reported that he's yet another free agent of interest to Seattle, though signing him would require either him or J.P. Crawford to move off shortstop.

    3. RHP Collin McHugh: Both Seattle's rotation and bullpen are looking pretty good, yet it's still possible to see room for a capable swingman like McHugh.

        

    Texas Rangers

    1. LHP Clayton Kershaw: He's the No. 1 starter the Rangers still need, not to mention a local hero whose presence would only heighten interest in the team's new look.

    2. 3B Kyle Seager: Isiah Kiner-Falefa doesn't have the bat to be an everyday third baseman, so Seager and his power should interest the Rangers.

    3. DH Nelson Cruz: Or, the Rangers could simply add power at DH by bringing back a beloved slugger.

National League East

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    Nick Castellanos
    Nick CastellanosAssociated Press

    Atlanta

    1. 1B Freddie Freeman: Because he's only one of the best players the franchise has ever had.

    2. RHP Zack Greinke: This depends on his willingness to pitch another year and how much Atlanta can offer, but there's a spot for a pitcher with his credentials in the back end of its rotation.

    3. RF/DH Jorge Soler: The National League is almost certain to get the DH on a permanent basis in the next CBA, which would give Atlanta an excuse to bring back its reigning World Series MVP.

        

    Miami Marlins

    1. LF Kyle Schwarber: He reportedly appeals to the Marlins as they seek another outfielder, per Barry Jackson and Craig Mish of the Miami Herald, and would indeed fit well as a left-handed counterpart for the newly signed Avisail Garcia.

    2. RF Nick Castellanos: The Miami area native is another slugger who's been on the Marlins' radar, per Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi, and the arrival of the DH would give them just the spot they would need to hide his notoriously iffy glove.

    3. RHP Adam Ottavino: He's been up and down over the last two seasons, yet he's a potentially affordable candidate for what seems like an open closer's role.

               

    New York Mets

    1. 3B/OF Kris Bryant: It seems like he's eternally on the Mets' radar and is again, per Heyman, and they have a spot for him as a regular third baseman who can also platoon with Brandon Nimmo in right field.

    2. LHP Yusei Kikuchi: He's another player of interest to the Mets, according to SNY's Andy Martino, as the team needs somebody in its rotation who isn't a major injury risk.

    3. LHP Jake Diekman: He's a reliable bat-misser who'd fit well in a Mets bullpen that needs a southpaw.

         

    Philadelphia Phillies

    1. RF Nick Castellanos: Dave Dombrowski is reportedly keen on reuniting with Castellanos, per Morosi. He would presumably take the DH route to being a right-handed complement to NL MVP Bryce Harper.

    2. 3B/OF Kris Bryant: Alternatively, it might not be out of the question that Dombrowski will finally unite Harper with his longtime friend, who'd also be an upgrade over Alec Bohm at third base.

    3. SS Trevor Story: Whether they need him is debatable, but it would make sense for the Phillies to pounce on him if his post-lockout market collapses.

              

    Washington Nationals

    1. INF/OF Jonathan Villar: He's the closest thing the market has left to Chris Taylor, who was on Washington's radar before he re-signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    2. RHP David Robertson: After a successful late-season stint with the Rays, the veteran could be turned into a trade chip if the Nats give him a chance to close.

    3. RHP Archie Bradley: Basically the same idea as the one above.

National League Central

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    Trevor Story
    Trevor StoryDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Chicago Cubs

    1. LHP Matthew Boyd: Even though his stock has fallen over the last two years, he'd still be another good addition to their rotation after newcomers Marcus Stroman and Wade Miley.

    2. LF Kyle Schwarber: It doesn't sound like he has hard feelings about being non-tendered last winter, so perhaps he'd come back to provide some left-handed thump in the middle of their order.

    3. SS Trevor Story: Rather than aggressively chase him as a solution at shortstop, the Cubs are more so in a position to be opportunistic in the event that his market deflates after the lockout.

          

    Cincinnati Reds

    1. RF/DH Jorge Soler: It doesn't sound like they want to spend money, but he could work as a cheaper replacement for Castellanos if they try to contend in 2022.

    2. LHP Brett Anderson: Similarly, he could be a low-cost facsimile for Miley in the Reds rotation.

    3. RHP Alex Colome: Cincinnati's bullpen actually stabilized toward the end of 2021, yet he still suits the team as an intriguing bounceback candidate after a lost season.

           

    Milwaukee Brewers

    1. DH Nelson Cruz: The Brewers got 30-homer power when they acquired Hunter Renfroe, yet Cruz could be so much more for their needy offense if they signed him to be their everyday DH.

    2. 1B Anthony Rizzo: If Milwaukee would rather upgrade over Rowdy Tellez at first base, Rizzo is likely more within its price range than Freeman.

    3. 3B Kyle Seager: Or Seager, provided that the Brewers could sell him on a move across the diamond.

         

    Pittsburgh Pirates

    1. OF Tommy Pham: With openings on either side of center field, the Pirates can offer him plenty of playing time and a potential avenue to a contender if he rebuilds his trade value.

    2. OF Corey Dickerson: They could just as easily take the aforementioned route with Dickerson, an old friend who generally hits when he's healthy.

    3. RHP Richard Rodriguez: He's another old friend who could possibly be rehabbed into a trade candidate.

          

    St. Louis Cardinals

    1. SS Trevor Story: It sounds like they aren't necessarily seeking a shortstop, but Story could provide some needed stability there if his market allows for an opportunistic signing.

    2. LHP Martin Perez: Their rotation would look better with at least one more back-end candidate, and his pitch-to-contact style fits well with their excellent defense.

    3. INF/OF Josh Harrison: Just because a utility guy who brings energy to the field seems like the kind of player they need on their bench.

National League West

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    Kris Bryant
    Kris BryantJed Jacobsohn/Associated Press

    Arizona Diamondbacks

    1. RHP Joe Kelly: Their bullpen needed a closer with Mark Melancon's bona fides, yet it also requires the kind of gas that Kelly can provide.

    2. RHP Hunter Strickland: The same goes for Strickland, though the separating factor with him is that he's actually of interest to Arizona.

    3. RHP Hansel Robles: Following his late-season course correction in Boston, he's another hard-thrower who could fit in Arizona.

              

    Colorado Rockies

    1. 3B/OF Kris Bryant: No one player will fix the Rockies' heavily flawed offense, but Bryant is probably the best possible hope of being that guy, as the club reached out to his camp, per MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. 

    2. LF Eddie Rosario: He'd fill a need in left field, and his line-drive stroke would play well at Coors Field.

    3. OF Joc Pederson: He's yet another former Atlanta star whose left-handed bat is needed in Colorado.

        

    Los Angeles Dodgers

    1. LHP Clayton Kershaw: Especially now that Max Scherzer is gone, there's that much more pressure on the Dodgers to bring back the greatest pitcher they've ever had.

    2. 1B Freddie Freeman: The Southern California native would push Max Muncy into an opening at second base, and word is that Dodgers players just plain want him, per Heyman.

    3. SS Carlos Correa: Just how Dodgers would it be if they salvaged a disappointing offseason by scooping up the best player on the open market at the last minute?

         

    San Diego Padres

    1. RF Nick Castellanos: He interests the Padres, per Nightengale, and San Diego could find everyday playing time for his big bat in either corner outfield spot or at DH.

    2. 3B/OF Kris Bryant: He's not as good of a fit given that Manny Machado occupies his best position, but it's hard to fault the Padres for the interest Heyman reported they showed.

    3. RHP Kenley Jansen: Replacing Melancon may be more luxury than necessity, but signing Jansen away from the Dodgers would be a heck of a way to do it.

        

    San Francisco Giants

    1. RF Nick Castellanos: He's precisely the kind of right-handed thumper they need in their lineup, and it sounds like they know it, as Morosi reported they have interest in him.

    2. LHP Carlos Rodon: Even after re-signing Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood and signing Alex Cobb, the Giants still need a top-of-the-rotation starter to account for Kevin Gausman's exit.

    3. SS Trevor Story: If either he or Brandon Crawford were willing to move off shortstop, he could also be the big right-handed bat the Giants need if they want to make a play on him.

            

    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.

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