Ranking the Best MLB Free Agents

It's human nature, perhaps, but with the dust barely settled on the Nationals' record-breaking World Series win we're already contemplating how the 2020 MLB campaign might shape up. Can the Washington outfit become the first to win back-to-back World Series' since the Yankees at the dawn of the new millennium? And can the Dodgers finally get over the winning line after the disappointment in recent seasons?

Perhaps most pertinently of all, can the Astros avenge their 2019 defeat? The sportsbooks certainly think so, and they are a +450 favorite in the latest futures MLB odds on bet365. If they can keep the No. 1 player on this list and sign No. 2, as is possible, they will certainly go close to a first World Series title since 2017.

Of course, all of these questions can be answered more accurately at the end of the offseason, when all rosters have been confirmed and analyzed. As ever, integral to those plans will be the acquisition of the best free agents available. These guys can, at worst, offer some depth and meat to a roster for when the inevitable changes are required, or at best offer a game-changing set of talents for a general manager to work with.

Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Barry Bonds ... these were all picked up for nothing just as they hit their peak or they enjoyed a career renaissance. There will be plenty of intrigue in the movements of the best free agents ahead of the 2020 season then, and these might just be the pick of the bunch:

4) Josh Donaldson

When you miss heaps of a season through injury, there is always that concern that you will never hit your heights again. So when Josh Donaldson found himself on the treatment table in 2017 and most of 2018, too, the cynics could be forgiven for sharpening their claws. But boy, did the 34-year-old show his class during his pillow season, smashing 37 home runs, delivering a .900 OPS, and reigniting his career with the Braves.

With doubts over Austin Riley, Atlanta might be tempted to persuade him back with a big bucks offer, but there will be plenty of other franchises snooping around.

3) Stephen Strasburg

It's a pretty plucky move on the part of Strasburg to walk away from his Nationals contract, although of course, that might just be a bargaining chip to land himself a better deal with the champions in the offseason.

The 31-year-old was running super-hot in the postseason, and he has just delivered career-best ERA and innings figures — what better way to secure a pay rise? Don't forget, Strasburg essentially took one for the team when restructuring his contract so that the Nationals could avoid the luxury tax, but after propelling them to the World Series, he surely deserves a raise.

His hometown boys the Padres might come calling, but it would be a huge surprise if Strasburg starts the 2020 campaign anywhere other than Washington.

2) Anthony Rendon

Another who produced a jaw-dropping post-season run, the Nationals will be desperate to tie up Rendon on a lucrative, long-term deal. But this is a guy with plenty of power in the market right now, and he could probably name his price to make the move home to the Rangers or even a shock switch to the Astros.

One thing that is for sure is that players coming off the back of a career-high season of 34 homers, backed by 1.003 OPS in the postseason shakeup, will not be short of suitors.

1) Gerrit Cole

As an Orange County boy, a switch to the Dodgers, Angels, or Padres would not raise many eyebrows from Cole.

What can you say about the 29-year-old? On the back of a career-defining season with the Astros — 326 strike outs, 2.50 ERA, 2.64 FIP — this is a guy who has the whole of the MLB in his palm as pawns. He could, in theory, become the highest paid pitcher in history this winter ... who splashes out on him, however, remains a mystery.

Anticipation ahead of the 2020 season begins in earnest — where will these four studs end up?

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