The MLB regular season has but six weeks left, and while there will then be an interlude for a Cubs-less postseason, that means the offseason is coming. The Cubs’ precise approach remains a mystery – maybe even unto them, as they look to stay nimble and flexible depending on what happens with the expiring Collective Bargaining Agreement – but we know that it’s going to at least be a very robust free agent class, to the extent they decide to go shopping.
To that end, I was interested to review MLB Trade Rumors’ updated free agent power rankings. Now that we’re close-ish to the offseason, and now that players have had an almost-full season to suss out their projected value, it’s a fun time to start thinking of who is the best (even if you’re not ready to start dreaming on the Cubs being aggressive).
You should check out the list for the full run-down (and a load of honorable mentions), but the top ten free agents are ranked like this:
1. Carlos Correa, SS
2. Corey Seager, SS
3. Kris Bryant, 3B
4. Trevor Story, SS
5. Freddie Freeman, 1B
6. Kevin Gausman, RHP
7. Marcus Semien, SS
8. Marcus Stroman, RHP
9. Robbie Ray, LHP
10. Nick Castellanos, OF
I don’t have any major quibbles there (Javy Báez, but not Anthony Rizzo, shows up in the honorable mentions), and the list is a reminder that the thing the Cubs need most – impact starting pitching – is not the strength of this class. Will the Cubs pursue Gausman? Probably. They’ve liked him before and he’s a stud. But will they be dishing out a 5+ year contract for anyone this offseason? I just doubt it.
That’s not to say there aren’t going to be a ton of useful starting pitchers in free agency, it’s just that I’m not sure the Cubs will go all out at the top of the market. Among the many other interesting free agent starting pitchers: Max Scherzer, Carlos Rodon, Noah Syndergaard, Clayton Kershaw, Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, Andrew Heaney, Dylan Bundy, Johnny Cueto, Anthony DeSclafani, Kwang-Hyun Kim, Corey Kluber, Steven Matz, Charlie Morton, Eduardo Rodriguez, Daniel Norris, Alex Wood, and Justin Verlander. The Cubs are going to have plenty of options, but getting it right is going to be the challenge. Every “interesting” pitcher is also, in many ways, a “risky” pitcher.
As for the rest of the top ten, I don’t much see the Cubs aggressively pursuing any of the group (with the possible (hopeful!) exception of Castellanos). I do think they will maintain an interest in the right deal, should the market not develop appropriately for certain guys.
Consider the MLBTR post a little late-August teaser for the many discussions ahead.