MLB Free Agency 2021: Rumors, Predictions for Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa & More

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2021

MLB Free Agency 2021: Rumors, Predictions for Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa & More

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    While the Major League Baseball lockout has largely hit the pause button on the offseason, team decision-makers and free-agent players aren't completely idle.

    Free agents who didn't sign before the work stoppage are still weighing their options, and teams are making moves where allowed. The Washington Nationals, for example, have reached a minor league agreement with utility player Dee Strange-Gordon, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.

    "Strange-Gordon was eligible to sign after not playing in big leagues last season. Minor league deals are allowed during the lockout," Passan tweeted.

    Fans, of course, aren't as interested in tracking minor league moves as tracking where free agency's remaining big fish might land. Here, you'll find the latest buzz on some of the top remaining free agents and post-lockout predictions.

Kris Bryant

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    Kris Bryant is one of the bigger names left on the open market. After an injury-hampered campaign in 2020, Bryant bounced back in 2021 with his fourth All-Star selection and a trade to the San Francisco Giants.

    In 51 games with San Francisco, the infielder/outfielder batted .262 with 49 hits and 28 runs.

    While Bryant had the opportunity to pick his next destination, his market "never materialized to the point where he considered signing before Dec. 1," Passan reported.

    There was interest in Bryant before the stoppage, though. According to FanSided's Robert Murray, the Seattle Mariners were interested in signing him. According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Colorado Rockies are also high on Bryant.

    Neither Seattle nor Colorado made the playoffs this past season, but Seattle did win 90 games and recently signed AL Cy Young-winner Robbie Ray. Bryant could help turn Seattle into a winner, and that might be an intriguing prospect for the 29-year-old once the market reopens.

    Prediction: Bryant signs with Seattle

Carlos Correa

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Shortstop Carlos Correa is another notable name without a home despite an early run at his position. Fellow shortstop Corey Seager recently agreed to a 10-year, $325 million deal with the Texas Rangers.

    According to Mark Berman of KRIV Fox 26, Houston offered Correa a five-year, $160 million deal last month. Correa obviously decided against signing it.

    However, Correa's decision to enter free agency could be costly. His market, it seems, is hurt by a lower back injury that some teams aren't getting a chance to evaluate.

    "What teams are being told was is that they could only access that information if they made a significant offer," ESPN's Buster Olney told ESPN 97.5 in Houston.

    Correa made it known that he is willing to join a rebuilding ball club, so his eventual decision may center around his contract rather than his title chances. Presumably, he is looking for a longer/bigger offer than the one Houston made.

    On his podcast, Heyman (h/t Blake Harris of SB Nation) stated that he believes it will between Houston and the Los Angeles Dodgers for Correa post-lockout. One advantage for the Astros is that they know the ins and outs of Correa's injury and have a significant offer on the table. Los Angeles may be among the clubs that don't want to take a long-term gamble on a player with injury concerns.

    "The problem he faces is that few clubs are willing to pay one player $300 million or more," The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal wrote.

    Prediction: Correa re-signs with Houston.

Trevor Story

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    Darryl Webb/Associated Press

    With players like Seager getting paid and Correa still available, shortstop Trevor Story may face a cooler market once the lockout ends.

    "When free agency resumes, Story won't be the best shortstop available. That distinction goes to Correa, a 27-year-old All-Star and Gold Glover who'll be looking to top Seager's 10-year, $325 million haul," John Tomase of NBC Sports Boston wrote.

    Tomase speculated that Story could be looking at a one-year "prove-it" deal to reestablish his market. He isn't the only one to suggest this.

    "Story and his throwing issues might end up being the real candidate to settle for a one-year deal," Kiley McDaniel of ESPN wrote.

    According to McDaniel, some agents believe that teams will be looking to spend less after the lockout.

    "These agents believe that teams will go back to being tighter with spending when the CBA is ratified -- which is a trend that almost always happens in the back end of the winter, anyway," McDaniel wrote.

    According to Heyman, the New York Yankees were interested in Story at the trade deadline. It won't be surprising to see them renew that interest post-lockout.

    The Yankees generally don't shy away from spending on the open market. A short-term deal at a high-market rate could be a win-win for both parties, as the Yankees weigh extension options with Aaron Judge.

    Prediction: Story signs with New York