September 17, 2021

Bowden: Ranking the top 35 free agents, and predicting their contracts and best fits (The Athletic)

Free agency is underway, and the top of this class is special. It’s led by two elite aces in Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg and a National League MVP candidate in third baseman Anthony Rendon. Cole is the front-runner for the American League Cy Young Award and is expected to become the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history. Although the industry has shied away from longer-term contracts over the past few years, Cole and Strasburg will likely be exceptions because of their ages — seven- or eight-year deals will take them only to their mid-to-late 30s. Both pitchers are coming off career years, and their open-market value couldn’t be higher, thanks to their age and platform-year performances.

This year’s free-agent class also includes a couple of set-up relievers fresh off World Series appearances, several quality middle-of-the-rotation starters, a few starting catchers, an All-Star-caliber third baseman in Josh Donaldson and a couple of solid…

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