Dallas Keuchel, SP, Astros
Current Valuation: $20.6M
After back to back elite seasons in 2014-15, Keuchel has yet put together a full, electric year since. With that said, he’s held a sub-3 ERA 3 times in the past 4 years, with a 1.1 WHIP and nearly 8 Ks per 9 innings in that span. The 30-year old has ace stuff when healthy, & might prove too rich for Houston going forward.
Andrew Miller, RP, Indians
Current Valuation: $17.9M
Now 32, Miller and his versatile set of weapons continues to be one of the most “un-hittable” options in the middle of a game. Miller is tough to evaluate, as he averages over an inning per outing, nearly 2Ks per outing, a 1.45 ERA, and 0.75 WHIP per outing over the past 2 seasons. Unthinkable numbers, nearly 25% better than any of the recently signed closers. This places his calculated value at a whopping $18M, a ridiculous number for a middle reliever - but proof that it will cost plenty to bring him into your clubhouse next December. The $15M mark is a more likely ceiling.
Craig Kimbrel, CL, Red Sox
Current Valuation: $16.5M
The closer market is deep next offseason, but at just 29 years of age and still remarkable consistent in terms of production, Kimbrel gets the slight edge as the best available. He averaged 1.8 Ks per inning in 2017, while posting 35 saves, a 1.43 ERA, and a ridiculous 0.68 WHIP. It’s tough to imagine Boston letting him walk, but the payday will be lucrative.
Yasmani Grandal, C, Dodgers
Current Valuation: $9M
He’s gotten increasingly better in each of the past 4 seasons, sacrificing a bit of power production last year, for a raised average (.250). The 29-year-old could be a hit-a-game candidate for the next few seasons, and should be seeking a big of a jump up from his near $8M salary in 2018.
Joe Mauer, 1B, Twins
Current Valuation: $13.2M
Mauer had a really nice bounce-back season in 2017, pumping out 160 hits, 36 doubles, 71 RBIs, an average north of .300 and an OPS north of .800. At 34, teams won’t be chomping at the bit to sign him to a multi-year blockbuster, but his recent numbers do put him in position to cash in a bit.
Brian Dozier, 2B, Twins
Current Valuation: $20.2M
His past two year averages (166 hits, 32 doubles, 38 homers, 96 RBIs, and an .871 OPS) make him a legitimate Top 3 free agent. Toss in that he’s only 30, and plays a middle-infield position, and he’ll draw plenty of interest should Minnesota be priced out.
Manny Machado, SS, Orioles
Current Valuation: $26M
The 25-year-old had a less efficient 2017 (.259 average, .782 OPS), but the production (163 hits, 33 doubles, 33 homers, 95 RBIs) was still plenty. He’ll hit free agency in the prime of his career, and it’s perfectly possible offers at the $30M per year mark are in his future.
Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays
Current Valuation: $27.1M
Yes he’s 32, yes he’s coming off a 2017 injury, but Donaldson has proven to be consistently durable, and overly productive in 6+ seasons with Oakland and Toronto. His $23M salary in 2018 to avoid arbitration is just a foundation for what may come. He’ll fall into Brian Dozier’s tier this winter.
Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
Current Valuation: $31M
Many say $400M. Many say the Yankees. It’s tough to see either happening at this point quite honestly. It should go without question that Harper (25), is in prime position to reset the batter’s pay market. But with up and down production, over the past 3 seasons, his calculated value is on par with Miggy Cabrera’s current $31M AAV.
Furthermore, no player is interested in being locked in to a 10-year contract anymore, so it’s fair to expect that a 10 year, $400M contract may be “signed”, but that Harper will have the ability to opt out after 4-5 years, $175M-$200M. Plenty to keep an eye on here over the next few months.