With some of the league’s top pitchers becoming free agents, along with a few of MLB’s best young outfielders, a lot of money will be handed out in offseason contracts. The annual Winter Meetings are less than a month away, and teams are already preparing to throw nine-figure contracts at the best available players.
Last offseason, Max Scherzer signed the largest free-agent contract of any pitcher in history, but his deal was only one of two that were worth more than $100 million. In the next few months, as many as 10 players could potentially sign deals worth at least $100 million.
Plenty of good players that won’t break the bank are available. The likes of Daniel Murphy and Ben Zobrist will get lucrative contracts, following exceptional postseasons. Free agent shortstop Ian Desmond had one of the most disappointing seasons of any player, but he could still earn a contract in the high eight figures.
Below is a look at the top 10 free agents of the 2015-2016 MLB offseason.
The right-hander was arguably the best pitcher in baseball this season, going 19-3 with an MLB-best 1.66 ERA. Greinke signed a six-year deal worth $147 million with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012, and he’s had the best three-year stretch of his career since then. The deep-pocketed Dodgers are one of the favorites to sign him, and he could get an even more expensive deal this time around.
Greinke put up better numbers than Price, but the former Toronto Blue Jay will get a larger contract because he’s two years younger. The left-hander was brilliant down the stretch this past season, before struggling in the playoffs. Posting an ERA of less than 3.60 for the sixth straight year, Price is a model of consistency, and he could get more than $200 million. The Chicago Cubs are the favorites to land him.
After being traded from the Cincinnati Reds to the Kansas City Royals in July, Cueto saw a dip in his performance. But he was stellar in a couple of playoff performances, and he’ll probably get close to $150 million from someone.
Despite having a quiet postseason, the Cuban outfielder might have earned himself a $150 million contract because of his second half with the New York Mets. Cespedes hit 17 home runs with a .941 OPS after being traded to New York, and he’s likely put himself out of the Mets’ price range.
The star first baseman is headed for a big payday after establishing himself as one of MLB’s premier power hitters. Totaling 159 home runs in the last four seasons, Davis could get even more money than Cespedes, and it likely won’t come from the Baltimore Orioles, with whom Davis became a top hitter.
The outfielder has a chance to get more money than any free agent position player. While Davis and Cespedes put up bigger numbers than Heyward, both will be 30 years old on Opening Day, and Heyward will be just 26. The St. Louis Cardinals might need to fork over more than $175 million to keep Heyward, who hit a career-high .293 in 2015.
After spending his entire seven-year career with the Washington Nationals, Zimmerman finally has a chance to test free agency. With a 3.32 career ERA, he could potentially sign a contract worth upwards of $100 million.
The lifetime Royal has a chance to make some big money by signing elsewhere. Gordon has made three straight All-Star teams and played in two World Series. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, Gordon has a chance to sign a five-year, $100-million deal, possibly with a team like the Orioles, Astros, Cubs or White Sox.
A young outfielder with power, Upton is likely to get more than $150 million in free agency. He’s averaging 26 home runs in each of his last five seasons, and he could end up playing for his fourth different team in six seasons.
Playing for an underachieving Chicago White Sox team, Samardzija had an ERA just under 5.00 in 2015. But it was easily his worst season in the last six years, and a team in need of starting pitching could throw a little less than $100 million his way.