FEATURE
2036 Top Free Agents: Batters
Our predictions for the top free agent deals of the 2036 offseason.
by CAVE DAMERON

1B Tai Hoi Bai, 29 years old

Bai has won the Gold Glove every full season he’s played. He consistently puts up ~4 WAR with no regression to speak of. He’s got basically no power and terrible plate discipline, but he consistently bats .300+ and hits a ton of doubles and triples. Bai has very good speed and can steal 40+ bases if he’s given the green light. Bai is a fan favorite, and a favorite inside the clubhouse, as well. He’s young and consistent enough to be one of this year’s biggest FA signings. From Bai’s point of view, I expect him to sign a huge three or four year deal, putting him in the position to sign one more big contract in his prime in a few seasons’ time.

Prediction: 4 years/$120M ($30M AAV)

3B Jose Acevedo, 35 years old

Acevedo would get a monster deal if he were three years younger, but he’ll have to settle for under $40M. He hasn’t regressed much, and he actually seems to be getting better every year for the past four years. Acevedo can play Gold Glove-winning defense at 3B and be a legitimate force in the middle of the order. He’s well liked among fans and players. Acevedo won’t sign the biggest deal in free agency, but he might end up as the most important player in this year’s class.

Prediction: 2 years/$36M ($18M AAV)

2B Alex Rivera, 30 years old

Rivera regressed hard last year with the bat, albeit with a career-low BABIP. Any buyer would be banking on him returning to his 2033/2034 form, where he was league-average or slightly above. He still put up fantastic defensive numbers at 2B, and he could be one of the best super-utility guys in the league as he’s got the tools to play everywhere but 3B and RF at a high level. Look for him to sign a one- or two-year “prove it” deal to show that last year’s offensive output was a fluke.

Prediction: 2 year/$50M ($25M AAV)

LF Hyung-Kwang Chung, 33 years old

Chung put up his best season in three years in 2035, with an .852 OPS while playing decent defense in left field. His 28 HRs last season were his highest since 2032, where he put up 33 en route to 5.3 WAR. Whether GMs view his 2034 season as a fluke is the key to how much Chung will end up getting this offseason. His slash line of .253/.366/.409 from two seasons ago doesn’t inspire much confidence, especially in a guy who isn’t good defensively. Add in his substantial injury risk and Chung isn’t likely to be one of the highest-paid players this offseason.

Prediction: 2 years/$24M ($12M AAV)

2B Josh Mennie, 32 years old

Mennie is a good defensive 2B, which provides him with a solid floor as a player. His bat has proven to be relatively consistent over his career -- he’s never posted a below-average season offensively. Unfortunately for him, the worst season of his career came last year, where his OPS of .736 was barely above league average. His power numbers in particular have been regressing steadily for the past three seasons. If GMs view him as the 15 HR guy he was two years ago, Mennie will get one of the most lucrative contracts this offseason. If not, he’ll likely end up signing later in the window on a one- or two-year deal.

Prediction: 3 years/$66M ($22M AAV)

LF Cruz Macia, 32 years old

Macia has been as consistent a player as anyone since he came into the league in 2028. He’s only had one below-average season with the bat, and that was 3 years ago. Since then, he’s put up 5.3, 4.3, and 5.5 WAR to silence any doubters. Macia can play an above-average RF and shows no sign of declining defensively. There will be some concerns as to how Macia’s batting profile ages. He’s mainly a contact hitter who relies on his speed to beat out groundballs and stretch singles into doubles. If his speed declines at all, a huge chunk of his production will be lost. That being said, Macia has given no reason to think he’s losing his quickness just yet.

Prediction: 2 years/$48M ($24M AAV)

RF Jose Magallanes, 30 years old

If Magallanes hadn’t just put up the worst year of his career, he’d likely top Bai as this year’s highest-paid free agent hitter. Magallanes has consistently been one of the best hitters in the league and has all the silverware to show for it. He’s one of the younger players on this list, too, which will make it all the harder for GMs to properly evaluate him. Any team who takes the risk of giving Magallanes a longer-term/lower-AAV deal could end up with one of the best-value players in the league. Or he could continue his regression and end up on my next list of the worst contracts in the TNBL. Who knows, really.

Prediction: 5 years/$80M ($16M AAV)

2B Danny Alejandre, 28 years old

Alejandre is another good defensive 2B in the same mold as Alex Rivera/Josh Mennie. Unfortunately for Alejandre, Rivera and Mennie are both better with the bat and will likely limit the number of teams in on him. That being said, Alejandre is younger than either of them, and he’s more than capable with the bat. If 2B-needy teams end up in a bidding war over Rivera and Mennie, Alejandre could end up being a sneaky cheap option for a shrewd GM.

Prediction: 4 years/$56M ($14M AAV)