MLB Free Agency Predictions
With the free agency period in full swing, there are still several difference-makers out on the market. We will take a look at the top five remaining players still searching for the perfect fit. From there, we’ll predict where they’ll sign — along with a possible contract they could receive. Will the team you root for be a suitor for any of these elite athletes?
3B Matt Chapman
As he approaches his 31st birthday, Matt Chapman is likely the best infielder left on the board. His bread-and-butter is functioning as a human vacuum cleaner at third base. A 4-time Gold Glove winner, very few possess Chapman’s combination of soft hands and arm strength. While he won’t hit for average, he’s still a guy who can knock 20-25 HRs out of the park.
The two teams most closely associated with Chapman are the Toronto Blue Jays and the San Francisco Giants. The Chicago Cubs were potentially a fit — though acquiring Michael Busch from the Los Angeles Dodgers probably ended any possibility of Chapman making Wrigley Field his home ballpark. Essentially, Chapman can re-up with a fun and exciting team in Toronto. Or, he can head back to his native California to play for a Giants team amid a rebuild.
Prediction: Chapman signs a 4-year/$110 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays
Hader is the prized closer arm on the market. The 29-year-old finished the 2023 season with a minuscule 1.28 ERA. The 5-time All-Star also has notched at least 29 saves in five of the last seven seasons.
Much is made about his unwillingness to throw more than one inning at any given time. For any team looking to contend, surely you’d be okay with a dominant Hader in a closing capacity. This is especially the case if the depth in the pen is ample.
A host of teams are in hot pursuit of the electric arm. The Astros, Phillies, Giants, and the Rangers have been mentioned as possible destinations. However, watch out for the Dodgers. This team is clearly on a mission to win a World Series by any means possible. A shorter deal with a high AAV could get the deal done.
Prediction: Hader signs with the Dodgers on a 3-year/$90 million deal (with an opt-out after Year 2)
UPDATE: Hader reportedly agreed to a 5-year/$95 million deal with the Houston Astros
Montgomery is a rock-solid starter. He was a fixture in the playoffs during the Rangers’ World Series run. Texas relied on him time and time again for both efficiency and eating innings. He had a respectable 2.90 ERA in postseason play, striking out 17 and walking only five in 31.0 innings.
We might not see Montgomery sign anywhere until Blake Snell’s market becomes clearer. Montgomery isn’t the talent Snell is, and he certainly doesn’t offer much in the way of swing-and-miss stuff. With that said, he’s a dependable starter who can easily slot in as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter for most clubs. Based on the injuries Texas will be dealing with in its rotation to start the season, it makes sense for him to return in some capacity. If there are two dark horses in this race, watch out for both the Los Angeles Angels and the Boston Red Sox.
Prediction: Jordan Montgomery signs a 5-year/$160 million deal with the Texas Rangers
Bellinger is an interesting player. He’s a plus defender at several spots on the field. His elite athleticism caters to him being a very good centerfielder. In what was a bounceback year for him in 2023, Bellinger did hit .307 with 26 HRs and 97 RBIs in Chicago.
On the other side of the coin, he’s only two years removed from a year in which he hit .165 with the Dodgers. If you ask his representation, a shoulder injury suffered during a home run celebration with LA essentially tanked Bellinger’s value for multiple years.
Now presumably healthy, is Bellinger back to the MVP level he demonstrated in 2019 when he hit 47 HRs and drove in 115 RBIs? There’s a lot of volatility with this player, and we’d think he’ll land somewhere in between the elite seasons and the horrible ones. At this point, the fit to stay in Chicago makes too much sense.
Prediction: Bellinger signs an 8-year/$195 million deal with the Chicago Cubs
Snell is the top arm on the market. The 31-year-old is coming off a Cy Young year with the Padres in which he won 14 games and accumulated a 2.25 ERA. There are pros and cons to his game. In terms of pure stuff, few are as good as Snell. He has legitimate strikeout stuff with a wicked assortment of off-speed pitches and an upper-90s fastball.
At the same time, he isn’t known as a guy who goes deep into games. For someone seeking a financial package associated with the ace of a staff, you’d hope he can lengthen his average starts and presumably get into the 7th or 8th innings at times. The Yankees have been linked to Snell based on his friendship with Aaron Judge. The hometown Seattle Mariners could be an option. The same could be said for the San Francisco Giants.
However, the Angels will win out here. In the wake of losing Shohei Ohtani, this fan base — and franchise — needs some sort of high-profile move to give the team a jolt of momentum. Snell is a West Coast guy, and he’ll get to stay home here as the ace of this rebuilding team.
Prediction: Snell signs a 6-year/$220 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels