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MLBTradeRumors: 2016 MLB Free Agent Power Rankings


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These rankings represent earning power in terms of total contract size, assuming everyone reaches the open market after this season and goes to the highest bidder.  Here’s MLBTR’s full list of 2015-16 free agents.

1.  David Price.  Even back in February, $200MM (sans deferred money) was getting tossed around in regard to Price.  The 30-year-old was traded to the Blue Jays on July 30th and his risen to the occasion, somehow pitching even better for his new team.  The goal is now clear: exceed the seven-year, $215MM extension Clayton Kershaw signed with the Dodgersin January 2014.  That contract includes an opt-out that could allow Kershaw to begin a new contract with his age 31 campaign.  Since Price is already 30, agent Bo McKinnis may not need to push for such a clause.

2.  Jason Heyward.  Heyward’s strong season has continued since we last checked in on August 6th.  Heyward gets on base, shows a touch of pop, and plays strong defense.  It’s a valuable package.  Since he turned 26 just last month, Heyward’s will be the rare free agent contract that includes mostly prime-age seasons.  An eight-year deal would only take him through his age 33 season.  As Yahoo’s Jeff Passan noted recently, an opt-out clause makes sense here.

3.  Justin Upton.  Upton hit .266/.382/.539 in 152 plate appearances since we last checked in, putting his oblique and thumb injuries behind him.  Upton is one player where an opt-out clause seems especially valuable, because it still seems like he could take his game to another level.  He’s a 28-home run guy who could become a 35-40 type, and would benefit from the chance to re-enter the market after three seasons.  He could get a bigger deal at that point, since he recently turned 28.  That could work out for the team too — sign him to an eight-year deal this winter but only have to pay for age 28-30.

USATSI_8714981-209x300.jpg4.  Chris Davis.  Davis can’t be contained, with 14 home runs in 35 games since we last checked in.  He has 42 in all.  Davis is five months younger than Yoenis Cespedes, and I’m starting to think he has slightly more earning power.  It’s an interesting contrast.  Davis seems a better bet for additional 35+ homer seasons, yet his rough 2014 season is hard to completely write off.  Cespedes brings more defensive value, though his strong marks this year are out of the ordinary.  Davis strikes out more, but walks more too.  Both players will be vying for seven-year contracts with mid-$20MM salaries.

5.  Yoenis Cespedes.  Cespedes didn’t even crack my top ten in February, and now he’s ascended all the way up to fifth.  Even when the Tigers traded Cespedes to the Mets on July 31st, he didn’t seem a good bet to finish with 30 home runs.  Then he went and smacked 16 in 40 games for the Mets, and he now has an outside shot at 40 bombs.  Jacoby Ellsbury’s seven-year, $153MM deal from December 2013 is a good benchmark for Cespedes, who should get more.  Cespedes’ contract was modified in September to allow the Mets to have a shot at retaining him.

6.  Zack Greinke.  Greinke ranked eighth on this list in February, when a five-year deal in the low-$100MM range seemed reasonable.  Sitting on an MLB-best 1.61 ERA through 29 starts, it’s time to seriously consider a six-year contract.  That’s a scary proposition, since he’s already 31, but the sixth year maximizes his total even if he backs off on the average annual value.  Greinke should be able to get past the six-year, $155MM contract signed by Jon Lester last winter.

7.  Alex Gordon.  Gordon returned from an eight-week layoff on September 1st, having recovered from a groin injury.  He says he feels 100%, and is now serving as the Royals’ leadoff hitter.  Since he turns 32 in February, a six-year deal seems like the limit.  I wonder if he can push his average annual value up to $25MM, netting $150MM in total.

8.  Johnny Cueto.  In our May power rankings, I gave consideration to putting Cueto ahead of Price, second overall.  A July 26th trade from the Reds to the Royals seemed beneficial to Cueto, who became ineligible for a qualifying offer.  Cueto began his Royals stint with a 1.80 ERA over 30 innings, but since then, the wheels have come off.  He’s allowed 28 earned runs in 26 1/3 innings, including 48 hits of which eight left the park.  His ERA has risen a full run in that time, from 2.46 to 3.47.  Perhaps something is wrong physically; you may recall Cueto went 13 days between starts this summer due to a sore elbow.

This story isn’t complete yet.  Cueto has three regular season starts left, and the Royals are going to the Division Series.  Still, Cueto’s last five starts probably took a seven-year contract off the table, and now I’m wondering whether he’ll match Lester.

9.  Jordan Zimmermann.  Zimmermann has a 2.66 ERA in seven starts since we last checked in, in what’s become another typically strong season from the 29-year-old righty.  He seems on track to become the first Tommy John survivor to reach $100MM, and may actually pass $130MM on a six-year deal.

10.  Mike Leake.  Leake’s hold on this spot has grown more tenuous, as the righty spent a few weeks on the DL with a hamstring injury.  Leake still has a shot at a five-year deal, as he doesn’t turn 28 until November.

Ian Desmond‘s season has been all over the map: he was decent in May, very good in August, and lousy otherwise.  There’s no real trend except that it’s his worst season since 2011 despite 17 home runs and counting.  I imagine some kind of four-year deal is in order, but this one is hard to peg.

Ben Zobrist is finishing strong, hitting .323/.398/.516 since joining the Royals in a July 28th trade.  Since he turns 35 in May, a four-year deal will be the limit.  Even that will be risky – it’s not like Victor Martinez’s contract is looking good.

So...who do you hope the Angels get???


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Why did you include Greinke? He's locked through 2018..


I don't really think the Angels will pick up any big name FAs, but I'd love an Ace like Zimmermann or Price. Yoenis and Howie, as well. 

Edited by failos
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Ok Poozy show me the list of young affordable talented free agents. I'll wait.

The solution is to rebuild right now instead of delaying the inevitable.

Would you rather have 4-5 more years of .500 baseball and then spend the next 5 years trying to fix this mess.... or spend the next 2-3 years rebuilding and possibly becoming an exciting franchise again.


Oh and Zimmerman is 29.


and will be getting 6+ years

Edited by Poozy
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Zobrist and Justin Upton. Upton has put up pretty good numbers for playing half his games at Petco. We wont have to wory about the park factors thing, it doesnt get much worse than Petco. Zobrist plays LF and 2B. Hes a consistent bat that we have been trying to get for a long time.

We'll have the best offense in baseball if we can sign both of them. I wouldnt spend 200 million on any of those starters this year, we desperately need that money for offense. We have pitching help on the way, you cant say the same thing about any position player in the farm system.

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Zobrist and Justin Upton. Upton has put up pretty good numbers for playing half his games at Petco. We wont have to wory about the park factors thing, it doesnt get much worse than Petco. Zobrist plays LF and 2B. Hes a consistent bat that we have been trying to get for a long time.

We'll have the best offense in baseball if we can sign both of them. I wouldnt spend 200 million on any of those starters this year, we desperately need that money for offense. We have pitching help on the way, you cant say the same thing about any position player in the farm system.

Yeah, the SP will be fine next season. We need to invest in offense and the BP

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I believe this team needs a legit number one starter.  Richards is a number two at best.  Price or Cueto would be worth an offer being they won't cost a first draft pick.  For left field, I'd like Cespedes or Heyward.  For second base, I'd love Zobrist, but I'd be open to bringing Howie back.

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meh.  you can't rebuild without trading Trout and we aren't trading Trout.  


You have him for five years and you aren't going to sell off everything around him (like Calhoun, Aybar, Richards etc.) or he's gonna want out.  


You aren't allowed to go out and add foreign players willy nilly anymore.  


You actually don't have any salary you can get rid of.  


So your only option is to spend more and worry in five years.  


Take the tax hit next year and then Weaver and Wilson come off.  Probably Aybar as well.  


not sure who of the free agents I'd bring in, but one of Price, Davis, Cespedes,  one of Zobrist, Kendrick or desmond, and maybe one more guy like parra depending on who you get from the first two groups.  plus a rock star pen guy.  You're going to overpay.  You just hope they arent the grease fire that was Hamilton and you hope they give you 3-4 years of solid production.  

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by the time five years rolls around, you hope that your farm system can infuse some solid young players. In two years, our only non-arb commitments are Pujols and Trout.  You can afford to add some more debt as long as it's productive debt for at least the first 4 years.  next year is the big issue in terms of the lux tax.  


the one assumption that people make is that all free agents will come here and fall off a cliff like pujols or burst into flames like hamilton.  Yes, you take that risk, but not all of them end up that bad.  


With what cespedes has been doing during the stretch run with the mets, I bet Arte is already licking his chops.  

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I want nothing to do with Cespedes, just have a bad feeling about him. Would be interested in Heyward but shy away from Upton simply because he could contract a BJ disease.  


I also don't think bringing back Kendrick will pay off. Not sure any long term contract for Zobrist would pay off either but at this point the 2nd base situation needs to be resolved. Featherston with his .155 batting average and defective glove can go rot in the minors all next season.


There is no reason to throw money away on pitching. We have a bunch of young arms ready to move up and getting that big reliever arm doesn't pay off, most relievers are flakes, that's why they are in the bullpen. You want a good reliever that won/t cost much, trade for K-Rod, the Brewers are in disarray and don't need him.  


The fact is if you pick anyone from the Trade Rumors list they will underperform to their contract so you better pick wisely so that performance you do get is enough to balance the team out and make it consistent on both sides of the field.

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i think that the best fit for the Angels would be Alex Gordon. Defensively, he is as good as any left fielder around. He can bat leadoff. And he is a guy that probably wont go Hamilton or Gaetti on us. Problem is, i feel the pricetag is going to be ridiculous. And i believe he would cost a 1st round pick..

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Wish list would be an ace, C, 2B, LF.  


Ace.  For some reason I want Zimmerman over Price.  Something about Price bugs me.  Like he will wilt in big games, or that his arm will pop out.  Not that Zimmerman is a picture of health.  But at least Zimm already has that TJ out of the way.  But I can also see the Angels standing pat here.


2B.  As I said in a previous post.  I hope we trade for Holt on the Red Sux.  He gives us youth, some speed, OBP, can play 2b or really any position.  He has no pop.  But with our soon to be bloated contracts, he gives us 4 years of club control.  I picture him as an Eckstein/Figgins type player.  


LF.  Heyward or Cespedes.  I really think you need protection for Trout.  Pujols is just an anchor right now.  It's either homer or single for him.  IMO, I think Cespedes fits the #4 role better than Heyward so he would be my choice.  


C.  I just don't know on this one.  We could go FA'cy, or try and trade for someone.  Just don't know who is available.  


In the end though.  Angels have to be willing to spend.  We need to take advantage of the next 5 years of Trout, and not just settle for trying to make the playoffs.  If we keep spinning our wheels, the greater the chance that we will only have Trout for those 5, and maybe less years.

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