Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Baseball is about to kick into high gear for the 2023 off-season. Here are the latest MLB free agent rankings from 985TheSportsHub.com, the top-20 players available regardless of position…

1. SP/DH Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani easily takes the top spot in our MLB free agent rankings for 2023

Shohei Ohtani easily takes the top spot in our MLB free agent rankings for 2023. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

Ohtani may be coming off elbow surgery, which will keep him away from pitching until 2025. But despite that, Ohtani is STILL easily the best player available on the free-agent market, because he’s easily the best overall player in baseball.

A star with both a bat and a ball, Ohtani is a once-in-a-lifetime two-way talent. The concern is whether he will be the same guy as a pitcher when he finally returns to the mound in 2025. But even a diminished version of Ohtani would still be a solid starting pitcher, combined with elite power as a hitter.

So, you can still expect teams to line up and bid to pay Ohtani serious megabucks for 2023 and beyond. Perhaps the surgery knocks the money down a peg for him, but he should still be looking at a record-breaking contract as the top player in our MLB free agent rankings.

(UPDATE: Ohtani announced that he is signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The contract is reportedly 10 years and $700 million.)

2. OF Cody Bellinger

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 23: Cody Bellinger #24 of the Chicago Cubs hits a two-run home run in the first inning of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field on July 23, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – JULY 23: Cody Bellinger #24 of the Chicago Cubs hits a two-run home run in the first inning of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field on July 23, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

Bellinger is in for a very nice payday, as the next-best hitter on the market after Ohtani. He’s coming off a season where he posted a .307 batting average and .881 OPS with 26 home runs in just 130 games.

As long as Bellinger is healthy, he’s pretty much a lock for 30-plus home runs in a starting outfield spot. Any team willing to spend that’s in need of power in the outfield, or even first base, should be calling about Bellinger.

  • 3. SP Yoshinobu Yamamoto

    YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 04: Yoshinobu Yamamoto #17 of Team Japan pitches in the first inning against Team Republic of Korea during the semifinals of men's baseball on day twelve of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on August 04, 2021 in Yokohama, Japan. (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

    YOKOHAMA, JAPAN – AUGUST 04: Yoshinobu Yamamoto #17 of Team Japan pitches in the first inning against Team Republic of Korea during the semifinals of men’s baseball on day twelve of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on August 04, 2021 in Yokohama, Japan. (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

    (UPDATE: Yamamoto is signing with the Dodgers for 12 years and $325 million, an AAV of just over $27M.)

    Yamamoto is the top “wild card” in this year’s MLB free agent pool, because he’ll be coming over from Japan and playing his first major-league ball at age 25. But wow, has this guy been dominant. Over his seven seasons with Orix in the Japan Pacific League and Japan Western League, Yamamoto has posted a 1.72 ERA and 986 strikeouts in 967.2 innings.

    He also dominated against plenty of major-league talent in the most recent World Baseball Classic, helping Japan to a championship. So he should be a very good pitcher in the majors, and make a lot of money out of the gate.

  • 4. SP Aaron Nola

    ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - OCTOBER 08: Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning in game two of the National League Wild Card Series at Busch Stadium on October 08, 2022 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Joe Puetz/Getty Images)

    ST LOUIS, MISSOURI – OCTOBER 08: Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning in game two of the National League Wild Card Series at Busch Stadium on October 08, 2022 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Joe Puetz/Getty Images)

    (UPDATE: Aaron Nola is re-signing with the Phillies, taking a big name off the market relatively early in the game.)

    Among the veteran major-leaguers hitting the open market, Nola should be the top target. Nola has made exactly 32 starts over his last three seasons with the Phillies, and has topped 200 strikeouts in each year as well.

    Nola may be 30 years old now, but he is a safe bet to provide innings and power at the top of the rotation for whoever signs him. He should garner all kinds of interest as a free agent.

  • 5. SP Blake Snell

    SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 14: Blake Snell #4 of the San Diego Padres delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning in game three of the National League Division Series at PETCO Park on October 14, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 14: Blake Snell #4 of the San Diego Padres delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning in game three of the National League Division Series at PETCO Park on October 14, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    Snell already has a Cy Young Award under his belt, from the 2018 season. And he’s now coming off the second-best year of his career, posting a league-best 2.25 ERA with 238 strikeouts in 180 innings. Snell is a legitimate ace that should make a huge impact on his next team.

  • 6. SP Jordan Montgomery

    ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 03: Jordan Montgomery #52 of the Texas Rangers reacts at the end of the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during Game One of the Wild Card Series at Tropicana Field on October 03, 2023 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

    ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 03: Jordan Montgomery #52 of the Texas Rangers reacts at the end of the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during Game One of the Wild Card Series at Tropicana Field on October 03, 2023 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

    After struggling to consistently stay on the field and perform in five-plus seasons with the Yankees, Montgomery has finally put it together over his past two seasons between the Cardinals and Rangers. He’s posted a 3.34 ERA since 2022, while making 32 starts in each of the past two campaigns.

    Now, Montgomery is a World Series champion coming off a dominant performance in the ALCS. He got knocked around a little bit in his one World Series start, and is a tier below Snell and Nola. But Montgomery has a chance to be a fine top-of-the-rotation starter going forward.

  • 7. 3B Matt Chapman

    HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 19: Matt Chapman #26 of the Toronto Blue Jays bats in the fourth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on April 19, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

    HOUSTON, TEXAS – APRIL 19: Matt Chapman #26 of the Toronto Blue Jays bats in the fourth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on April 19, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

    The top free-agent third baseman available, Chapman has averaged 26 home runs over the past three seasons and won two Gold Glove awards in that span. Any team in need of a third baseman would be landing the top prize on the market, here.

  • 8. OF Teoscar Hernandez

    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 26: Teoscar Hernandez #35 of the Seattle Mariners tosses his bat after hitting a grand slam home run during the third inning against the Kansas City Royals at T-Mobile Park on August 26, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – AUGUST 26: Teoscar Hernandez #35 of the Seattle Mariners tosses his bat after hitting a grand slam home run during the third inning against the Kansas City Royals at T-Mobile Park on August 26, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

    Hernandez has become one of the more consistent power hitters in baseball in recent years, with a 162-game average of 32 home runs going back to 2018. Take out the COVID-shortened 2020 season, and Hernandez has hit at least 22 home runs in five straight years.

    He did launch 16 longballs in just 50 games with a .919 OPS in 2020, though. So, you’re getting a surefire power-hitting corner outfielder, here.

  • 9. OF/DH Jorge Soler

    HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 26: Jorge Soler #12 of the Atlanta Braves celebrates after hitting a solo home run against the Houston Astros during the first inning in Game One of the World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 26, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    HOUSTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 26: Jorge Soler #12 of the Atlanta Braves celebrates after hitting a solo home run against the Houston Astros during the first inning in Game One of the World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 26, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    Soler has become more of a designated hitter in recent years, but he’s capable of playing a corner outfield spot if needed. Still, his bat is clearly his biggest weapon. Soler blasted 36 home runs in just 137 games last season.

    Injuries may be an issue, but when he’s on the field, Soler is a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter.

  • 10. RP Josh Hader

    SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 15: Josh Hader #71 of the San Diego Padres celebrates after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 in game four of the National League Division Series at PETCO Park on October 15, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 15: Josh Hader #71 of the San Diego Padres celebrates after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 in game four of the National League Division Series at PETCO Park on October 15, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    Hader has been one of the most dominant closers in the game for a long time now. His rough 2022 season is an outlier. In 2023 with the Padres, he posted an absurd 1.28 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 56.1 innings, a return to form for the 29-year-old. Whoever signs him instantly plugs in a lights-out guy for the ninth inning.

  • 11. SP Clayton Kershaw

    ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 20: Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during the second inning of a game aaat Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 20, 2023 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

    ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 20: Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during the second inning of a game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 20, 2023 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

    Kershaw barely misses out on the top-10 this year, but it’s amazing that the 35-year-old is still this good. Kershaw had a strong 2.46 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 131 innings last season with the Dodgers. Will he play elsewhere in 2024? He should have no shortage of suitors.

  • 12. 3B Jeimer Candelario

    PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JULY 02: Jeimer Candelario #9 of the Washington Nationals rounds bases after hitting a solo home run during the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 02, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

    PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – JULY 02: Jeimer Candelario #9 of the Washington Nationals rounds bases after hitting a solo home run during the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 02, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

    (UPDATE: Candelario is reportedly signing with the Cincinnati Reds.)

    Candelario hit a career-high 22 home runs in 2023 between the Nationals and Cubs. He can play either corner infield position, but he’d be an ideal choice for a team in need of a solid third baseman for the top half of the lineup. Even if Candelario doesn’t hit a ton of homers, he’ll definitely hit plenty of doubles.

  • 13. OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

    PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 31: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. #12 of the Arizona Diamondbacks rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers during Game Four of the World Series at Chase Field on October 31, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    PHOENIX, ARIZONA – OCTOBER 31: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. #12 of the Arizona Diamondbacks rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers during Game Four of the World Series at Chase Field on October 31, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    (UPDATE: Gurriel is reportedly re-signing with the Diamondbacks.)

    Gurriel is a safe bet to hit 20-plus home runs over a full season. And he provides positional versatility, as primarily a left fielder who has played first, second, and shortstop in his career. But he’s a good choice for a team to add some pop to their outfield.

  • 14. SP Sonny Gray

    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - OCTOBER 04: Sonny Gray #54 of the Minnesota Twins throws out Daulton Varsho #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays at first base during the second inning in Game Two of the Wild Card Series at Target Field on October 04, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – OCTOBER 04: Sonny Gray #54 of the Minnesota Twins throws out Daulton Varsho #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays at first base during the second inning in Game Two of the Wild Card Series at Target Field on October 04, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    (UPDATE: Gray is signing a three-year deal with the St.Louis Cardinals.)

    Gray is 34 years old, has bounced around the majors, and has been a bit up-and-down over his career. But he’s coming off a season in which he started 32 games and posted a 2.49 ERA, with 183 strikeouts in 184 innings. Teams can do much worse for a talented pitcher on a one-year prove-it deal, despite Gray’s age.

  • 15. SP Lucas Giolito

    PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - AUGUST 28: Lucas Giolito #24 of the Los Angeles Angels throws a pitch in the bottom of the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 28, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

    PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – AUGUST 28: Lucas Giolito #24 of the Los Angeles Angels throws a pitch in the bottom of the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 28, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

    UPDATE: The Red Sox have signed Lucas Giolito to a three-year deal, in a much-needed move to bolster their starting rotation.

    Giolito has been strangely bad over the past two seasons, with a collective 4.89 ERA and 4.70 FIP, after three straight years as a Cy Young contender from 2019-21. The team signing him will be looking to restore his past performance. But Giolito is still just 29 years old and should be relatively affordable.

  • 16. SP Marcus Stroman

    CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 15: Marcus Stroman #0 of the Chicago Cubs reacts in the fifth inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Wrigley Field on July 15, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

    CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – JULY 15: Marcus Stroman #0 of the Chicago Cubs reacts in the fifth inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Wrigley Field on July 15, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

    Stroman has a 3.38 ERA and 3.63 FIP since 2019. And he would add some flair to a team, as he’s known for his competitiveness and feisty nature – both on and off the mound. There have been debates over the years whether Stroman is a “good teammate,” but at least teams know they’re getting a good pitcher who wants to win.

  • 17. OF Jung-hoo Lee

    Aug 4, 2021; Yokohama, Japan; Team South Korea outfielder Jung Hoo Lee (51) hits a double against Japan in a baseball semifinal match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 4, 2021; Yokohama, Japan; Team South Korea outfielder Jung Hoo Lee (51) hits a double against Japan in a baseball semifinal match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

    (UPDATE: Lee has signed with the San Francisco Giants for six years and up to $132 million.)

    Another wild card coming to the majors, Jung-hoo Lee is a Japanese-born outfielder who has played seven seasons in South Korea’s KBO League. He’s a career .340 hitter overseas, a doubles machine who has also hit 29 home runs over his last 228 games. The 25-year-old is comparable as a hitting prospect to the Red Sox’s Masataka Yoshida, with better defense.

  • 18. DH J.D. Martinez

    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 31: J.D. Martinez #28 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after his strikeout to end the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: J.D. Martinez #28 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after his strikeout to end the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    Martinez rebounded from his power dropping off in 2022 with the Red Sox, launching 33 home runs in just 113 games for the Dodgers. He’s 36 years old, so Martinez should be looking at just a one-year deal, but he has a chance to deliver at least decent power for a team in need of a legit DH.

  • 19. RP Jordan Hicks

    ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 24: Jordan Hicks #12 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a ninth inning pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 24, 2023 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mark Taylor/Getty Images)

    ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 24: Jordan Hicks #12 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a ninth inning pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 24, 2023 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mark Taylor/Getty Images)

    Hicks is just entering his prime at 27 years old, and is coming off a career-best season out of the bullpen, with a 3.29 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 65.2 innings between the Blue Jays and Cardinals. He’s likely to immediately install as his team’s new closer, with a chance to shatter his career-high in saves.

  • 20. 1B Rhys Hoskins

    PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 14: Rhys Hoskins #17 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates by spiking his bat after hitting a three-run home run against Spencer Strider #65 of the Atlanta Braves during the third inning in game three of the National League Division Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 14, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

    PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – OCTOBER 14: Rhys Hoskins #17 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates by spiking his bat after hitting a three-run home run against Spencer Strider #65 of the Atlanta Braves during the third inning in game three of the National League Division Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 14, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

    Hoskins is a different type of wild card. He missed the entire 2023 season due to a torn ACL suffered in spring training. But assuming Hoskins is all the way back to full strength and can be the same guy, he’s a plug-and-play power-hitting starter at first base, and it won’t come too expensively.

  • Click here for complete Boston Red Sox coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

Sign me up for the 98.5 The Sports Hub email newsletter!

Get the latest Boston sports news and analysis, plus exclusive on-demand content and special giveaways from Boston's Home for Sports, 98.5 The Sports Hub.

*
*
By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.