Friday, November 6, 2015

2015-16 MLB Free Agent Tiered Rankings

Credit: Bruce Hemmelgarn/Getty Images 
At the moment, I believe the top free agents to be Jason Heyward, Yoenis Cespedes, David Price, Zack Greinke, Justin Upton, and Alex Gordon. That would be my top tier, consisting of six outstanding players who are still young enough to provide All Star production for three or more seasons.

A second tier would look more like a tier 1A, with Jordan Zimmermann and Johnny Cueto. They are 30-years old, the same age as Price, younger than Greinke, but a step below in track records.

Our third tier is all position players: Ian Desmond, Chris Davis, Howie Kendrick, Matt Wieters, and Ben Zobrist. This is where I'd start to place International free agents, like starting pitcher Kenta Maeda, first baseman Byung-ho Park, and outfielder Ah-seop Son.

My fourth tier has a baker's dozen of players, who should be good at least in 2015, but seem to have lower floors than most of the players listed above. This tier is mostly pitchers, or batters with unmistakable flaws, featuring Colby Rasmus, Yovani Gallardo, Jeff Samardzija, Marco Estrada, Scott Kazmir, Wei-Yin Chen, Bartolo Colon, John Lackey, Brett Anderson, Hisashi Iwakuma, Mike Leake, Dexter Fowler, and Daniel Murphy.

Credit: Jim Rogash/Getty Images 
So far, we've listed 26 Major League and 3 International free agents. Now, we start talking about role players (Gerardo Parra, Chris B. Young) and lottery tickets (Rich Hill). Steady big leaguers can be acquired in Dioner Navarro, Alexei Ramirez, Denard Span, Nori Aoki, Asdrubal Cabrera, Steve Pearce, Alex Avila, and David Freese. Back end of the rotation arms, like Doug FisterMark Buehrle, Ian Kennedy, and J.A. Happ can be found along with relievers like Ryan Madson, Darren O'Day, and Matt Thornton.

Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
The bargain bin is littered with more role players and guys looking for one more year in the sun. Drew Stubbs can still be a good pinch-hitter, hits lefties pretty well, and can run. Marlon Byrd has found the fountain of youth a few times. Will Venable might have something more to give. You could do worse than Brayan Pena as your backup catcher. Justin Morneau is a former league MVP looking to stay in the game. Gordon Beckham and Austin Jackson are still only 29 years old and can be a good utility infielder and fourth outfielder, respectively.

That's 53 Major League and 3 International free agents. This isn't the most top-heavy free agent class we've seen, but there should be a decent amount of good players to go around and Major League GM's play musical chairs with their 40 man roster spots. Afterall, the tiers above still don't include Shane Victorino, the pitcher Chris Young, Cliff Pennington, Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Geovany Soto, Chad Qualls, Justin De Fratus, John Jaso, Tyler Clippard, Chris Iannetta, Juan Uribe, Jimmy Rollins, Kyle Lohse, Rajai Davis, Alejandro De Aza, Dillon Gee, Aaron Harang, former top prospects Travis Snider and Domonic Brown, reclamation projects Brandon Morrow and Bobby Parnell, fan favorite Munenori Kawasaki, nor games finished folk heroes Matt Albers and Ryan Webb.

Who doesn't love the Hot Stove?
Photo: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
That's a total of 83 players who are looking for work, and range from players demanding 9-figure contracts to those hoping for a Spring Training invitation. Experts will start posting their lists of top Free Agents in the next few days. It will be interesting to see how our tiers vary from theirs, and ultimately, which players proved to be worth their investments.

Did overrate or underrate someone egregiously? Did we miss anyone completely? As always, please provide feedback in the comments section below or on one of our social media channels.

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