Welcome to the offseason! Here's a quick rundown of what you need to know about these 2022-23 MLB free agent rankings and projections, since I think you'll likely scroll immediately to the players and then return back here when you have a question.
For simplicity, players are ranked in the order of their projected guaranteed contracts, not how good I think they are. The contract projections are a mix of my opinions and those of agents and executives, but the aim is to try to predict what will happen -- not what I think they're worth.
Some players with slam-dunk options of various kinds won't be listed here, including Tim Anderson and Chris Sale, even if some of those might not yet be finalized. Edwin Diaz, Charlie Morton and Adam Wainwright are the notables who would've been on this list but already signed.
The qualifying offer is back, meaning teams can offer a one-year, $19.65 million deal. If the free agent turns it down and signs with another club, the team losing the player will get draft-pick compensation (the system is too complicated for me to fully explain here). Players must be offered a QO by Thursday, and then they have 10 days to either accept or decline. Players who were traded in 2022, have been offered the QO before or aren't on an MLB roster can't be offered it. Not having that offer tied to them means they'll have a more robust market because that compensation is worth millions to certain clubs. It's almost a certainty that the eligible players in the top 15 of this list will get a QO, so there are only eight cases in which whether the player will be offered one is a real question: Mitch Haniger, Sean Manaea, Jameson Taillon, Nathan Eovaldi, Tyler Anderson, Anthony Rizzo, Ross Stripling and Zach Eflin.
Last winter, teams set a record for free agent spending at $3.625 billion, breaking the previous mark of $2.4 billion. I had last year's group projected at under $3 billion but missed low on some of the top players. I've adjusted a bit this year and now have this year's group projected at roughly $3.2 billion, so this year does have a chance to break that record and should be in the top two all time either way.
Lastly, I missed on the low side for some of the top players in last winter's class, and I think some of the same market forces are present this year: leaguewide revenues (still strong!), owners/organizations looking to be aggressive with that revenue to upgrade their clubs (still a lot!), and the cost of trading young players to get multiple years of control of good, younger big leaguers (still high!). So, I've rounded up a bit on the projections for top players in cases where I'm less sure about where their market lands.
Now here are my top 50 free agents available this winter, with my projected contract for each player.