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Aaron Judge and Jacob deGrom Headline the Best Top 30 Potential MLB Free Agents in 2022-23

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 01: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees follows through on his second inning two run home run against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium on August 01, 2022 in New York City. Jim McIsaac/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Jim McIsaac / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

The Major League Baseball Trade Deadline has come and gone and many of the players that moved at the deadline are players that will be headed for free agency in the offseason. However, there are also star players on contending teams that were never going to be traded but will be looking at a big payday when free agency hits this winter.

That group starts with Aaron Judge, the Yankees outfielder who is favored to win the American League MVP, some elite pitchers and several top-tier shortstops. This has the potential to be a game-changing offseason, depending on which of these stars move.

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Here is a very early look at the Top 30 potential MLB free agents following this season:

Aaron Judge, CF, New York Yankees (43 HR, 10 SB, .298/.386/.676, 6.7 fWAR)

It’s all coming together for the 30-year-old slugger this season as he is on pace for more than 60 home runs and is the favorite (-475 on DraftKings) to win the American League MVP.

Jacob deGrom, RHP, New York Mets (Player Option) (1.80 ERA, 0.71 FIP, 0.60 WHIP, 10.8 K/9)

When healthy, there is little question that deGrom has been the best pitcher in the game in recent seasons. He recently returned to start his first game of the season but in the past five seasons, he has started 92 games, and has a 1.94 ERA, 2.13 FIP, 0.88 WHIP, and 12.0 K/9.

Trea Turner, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (18 HR, 18 SB, .305/.346/.505, 4.2 fWAR)

One of the most dynamic players in the game, Turner offers a rare combination of power and speed, and the 29-year-old is another shortstop that should be in major demand if the Dodgers don’t manage to retain him.

Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta (15 HR, 14 SB, .297/.355/.464, 4.9 fWAR)

The 28-year-old, who has steadily improved is having the best season of his career and should be a sought-after free agent in the offseason. A shortstop that can hit for power and get on base while providing elite defense is something that any team can use.

Justin Verlander, RHP, Houston (Player Option) (1.73 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 0.85 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 3.8 fWAR)

After surpassing 130 innings this season, Verlander has a player option for next season. The 39-year-old has returned from Tommy John surgery and is the favorite (-130 on DraftKings) to win the American League Cy Young Award, which is probably good enough to get more than a one-year deal if he wants it.

Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston (Player Option) (9 HR, 7 SB, .309/.383/.455, 4.2 fWAR)

Holding the option to opt out of his current deal following the season, Bogaerts has delivered a strong season in 2022 but if the Red Sox are not prepared to pay him, Bogaerts could bolt, and Boston could shift Trevor Story back to shortstop.

Aaron Nola, Philadelphia (Player Option) (3.25 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 0.94 WHIP, 9.9 K/9, 3.8 fWAR)

Following an uncharacteristically poor season in 2021, the 29-year-old has returned to throwing like a staff ace and should be poised to hit the open market to cash in with a long-term contract.

Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox (Player Option) (6 HR, 13 SB, .309/.347/.404, 2.3 fWAR)

In the past four seasons, Anderson is hitting .319 and the 29-year-old has appeared in back-to-back All-Star games. The opportunity to cash in with a long-term deal should prompt Anderson to not take his player option for next season.

Willson Contreras, C, Chicago Cubs (15 HR, .253/.369/.466, 2.8 fWAR)

One of the premier catchers in the game, Contreras was surprisingly not traded at the deadline so maybe there is a plan for the Cubs to keep the 30-year-old for the long haul. If not, the failure to trade him would seem to be a missed value opportunity.

Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (2.64 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 0.98 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 2.3 fWAR)

It looked like the 34-year-old ace had slipped a bit in 2021, but he has bounced back with a strong season in 2022, good enough to expect that he can continue to pitch. Would he consider a franchise other than the Dodgers? What about the Rangers for the Texas native?

Josh Bell, 1B, San Diego (14 HR, .303/.388/.492, 2.6 fWAR)

Included as part of the package when Juan Soto was traded to San Diego, Bell will turn 30 later this month. He has been a productive bat for three of the past four seasons and will have an opportunity to showcase his talent with the Padres down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox (14 HR, .302/.383/.477, 3.4 fWAR)

Despite a power decline, the 2020 American League MVP is having one of his best seasons. He will be 36 by the time the 2023 season gets underway, so a short-term contract will be in order.

Brandon Nimmo, CF, New York Mets (10 HR, .270/.351/.426, 3.3 fWAR)

Despite not having noteworthy power, the 29-year-old center fielder offers plenty of value as an on-base ace and strong defender. His offensive production is down a little this season, but Nimmo is a reliable, and possibly underrated, option.

Edwin Diaz, RHP, New York Mets (1.44 ERA, 0.92 FIP, 0.89 WHIP, 17.9 K/9, 2.2 fWAR)

An outrageously dominant season for the Mets’ 28-year-old closer should have him in line for a massive free agent deal. He is young enough that he should get term, as risky as that might be for any pitcher, let alone a reliever.

Chris Bassitt, RHP, New York Mets (3.61 ERA, 3.71 FIP, 1.12 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, 1.7 fWAR)

A late bloomer, the 33-year-old starting pitcher finished in the Top 10 of the American League Cy Young voting in the past two seasons and is having a quality season in his move to the National League this year.

Sean Manaea, LHP, San Diego (4.25 ERA, 4.37 FIP, 1.27 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, 0.9 fWAR)

While he has not had the best season after coming over from Oakland in a trade, Manaea is still a 30-year-old left-handed starter who has typically been good for 2-3 WAR each season. That will get him paid.

Taijuan Walker, RHP, New York Mets (Player Option) (2.79 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 1.13 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, 2.0 fWAR)

While he is not especially overpowering, Walker has been highly effective this season, and doing it for a Mets team that is pushing towards the playoffs should set the 29-year-old up for a substantial payday in free agency.

Brandon Drury, 3B, San Diego (21 HR, .272/.336/.522, 2.8 fWAR)

A 29-year-old utility player who can play second and third base plus a little corner outfield, if need be. Drury is having his best season and should get a chance to play meaningful baseball down the stretch with the Padres after starting the season in Cincinnati.

Sonny Gray, RHP, Minnesota (Player Option) (3.19 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 1.11 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, 1.5 fWAR)

Although the 32-year-old has had some ups and downs throughout his career, he has delivered a quality season for the Twins, and that should prime him to hit the open market and cash in with a long-term deal.

Jameson Taillon, RHP, New York Yankees (3.96 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 7.8 K/9, 1.6 fWAR)

While his 10-2 record this season could inflate his value, Taillon has been a competent mid-rotation starter. The 30-year-old should be prepared to cash in with a big deal in free agency.

Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Philadelphia (4.02 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 1.27 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, 1.3 fWAR)

Even though injuries have affected him so that the 29-year-old is no longer the overpowering ace that he was in his early years with the Mets, Syndergaard will have an opportunity to play a big role for the Phillies down the stretch and if he can handle the high-pressure starts, he will be able to land a significant free agent contract.

Mike Clevinger, RHP, San Diego (3.13 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 1.08 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 1.1 fWAR)

Injuries have hindered him in recent seasons, but the 31-year-old has returned to action this season and has been effective enough that there will be interest in his services as a free agent.

Tyler Anderson, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (2.89 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 1.03 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 2.4 fWAR)

The 32-year-old southpaw has bounced around a bit but his performance with the Dodgers this season, including a 12-1 record, should open some eyes. He is not a big strikeout guy, but Anderson has been able to keep the ball in the park and should get rewarded with a decent contract.

Martin Perez, LHP, Texas (2.47 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 2.9 fWAR)

The 31-year-old is having the best season of his career, by a significant margin, and if the Rangers were not going to deal him before the trade deadline, they surely must have plans to get him signed to a new contract.

Andrew Benintendi, LW, New York Yankees (3 HR, .305/.382/.379, 1.9 fWAR)

Struggling to a 1-for-20 start with the Yankees since he was acquired from Kansas City, Benintendi is offering no power but gets on base and, after some down years, he has re-established his value in 2022.

Christian Vazquez, C, Houston (8 HR, .278/.322/.425, 1.1 fWAR)

Traded from Boston to Houston at the trade deadline, Vazquez is an above average hitter and fielder behind the plate, which should put the 31-year-old in healthy demand as a free agent.

J.D. Martinez, DH, Boston (9 HR, .281/.346/.449, 1.0 fWAR)

His power has declined this season and he is 34 years old, so maybe there is a limit to his long-term value, but he is effective enough offensively and has a track record that includes seven seasons with at least 20 home runs.

Kenley Jansen, RHP, Atlanta (3.43 ERA, 2.53 FIP, 0.99 WHIP, 12.4 K/9, 1.1 fWAR)

Even at age 34, Jansen has been dominant in the closer’s role for the Braves and that ought to give him a better opportunity to secure a new deal with a contender in the offseason, whether that is still in Atlanta or somewhere else.

Nathan Eovaldi, RHP, Boston (4.11 ERA, 4.40 FIP, 1.23 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 0.7 fWAR)

His 2021 season was outstanding and while Eovaldi has not performed to that level this season, the 32-year-old can fill a mid-rotation spot and bring some upside to that role.

Taylor Rogers, LHP, Milwaukee (4.25 ERA, 2.38 FIP, 1.11 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 1.3 fWAR)

Traded to the Brewers in the deal that sent Josh Hader to San Diego, 31-year-old Rogers had saved 28 games for the Padres and has been an above average reliever in four of the past five seasons.

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