This Offseason’s Free Agent Shortstops Will Have a Massive Effect on the Future of the MLB
There is still a month remaining in the MLB regular season, along with the postseason. However, after the end of the World Series what should be a very exciting MLB offseason will begin.
This year’s group of free agents is highlighted by four shortstops; Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, and Dansby Swanson. The decisions these players make this offseason on which team they will play in the future will have a massive impact on the next several years in the MLB.
This Year’s Group of Free Agent Shortstops
Correa, Turner, Bogaerts, and Swanson are not only four of the best shortstops in the league but four of the best overall players in the MLB. Each player will make whichever team they choose to sign with considerably more likely to win the World Series.
Of the four players, Swanson is probably the likeliest to sign an extension before the offseason. He and the Braves have reportedly already entered negotiations, and the organization has completed multiple extensions with key players over the last few seasons.
If Swanson does become a free agent, it will be interesting to see how teams compare him to the other players that are free agents at the position. Swanson is 28, older than Correa but younger than both Turner and Bogaerts. He would also enter free agency after his best season in the MLB.
Prior to this year, Swanson’s best OPS in a single season was in his rookie season, where he had an OPS+ of 115 in 38 games, and in the shortened 2020 season, when his OPS+ was 111 in 60 games. Swanson’s best OPS+ in a season in which he played more than 120 games, 98, was last season.
This year, Swanson has been incredible offensively. He has already hit the second most home runs he has ever hit in a season and has the highest OPS+ of his career, 117, in addition to playing excellent defense. It will be interesting to see whether or not teams expect his offensive performance to continue in the future.
Correa will likely enter free agency again after signing with the Minnesota Twins last offseason, as he will likely decline the player option in his contract. This season, Correa has been outstanding both offensively and defensively, although he has dealt with a few injuries during the season.
Last offseason, concerns about Correa’s previous injuries were one of the main reasons he didn’t sign a long-term contract similar to the one Corey Seager signed with the Texas Rangers.
Bogaerts has been one of the best players in the American League East this year, but the Red Sox are currently last in the division. Bogaerts, like Correa, has a player option in his contract, but he will probably choose to enter free agency.
By the time the offseason begins, Bogaerts will be 30, and he is older than Correa, Turner, and Swanson. However, he has also arguably had the most consistency of any of the other shortstops; with an OPS+ above 125 for five straight seasons since 2018. This offseason, Bogaerts will be one of the best offensive players available at any position.
Turner will become a free agent this offseason after three consecutive fantastic seasons. Since 2020, Turner has batted .321/.369/.523 in 336 games. During that time Turner has averaged 28 home runs per 162 games and more than 20 stolen bases per season, according to Baseball-Reference.
In future seasons Turner will likely have fewer stolen bases, but he should continue to be an excellent offensive player. This year he is likely to hit more than 20 home runs for the second consecutive season.
Where Could Each Player Play in the Future?
The Dodgers, Braves, Cubs, Orioles, and several other teams are places where Correa, Swanson, Turner, and Bogaerts could sign this offseason. All four players could also play for their current team next season.
The Dodgers and Braves, if they can’t agree to an extension with Turner or Swanson, respectively, could both be potential destinations for any of the free agent shortstops. Both franchises are World Series favorites each season and have the financial flexibility to sign a major contract.
In addition, the Cubs could be another potential destination for Correa, Turner, Bogaerts, or Swanson. Chicago is currently 20 games behind the Cardinals in the National League Central, but the Cubs are above .500 since the All-Star break and the organization could attempt to reach the postseason next year.
The Orioles could potentially return to the postseason this year, and this offseason they could attempt to make multiple signings in free agency to help improve the team alongside the younger players on their roster.
This offseason, Correa, Turner, Bogaerts, and Swanson will be four of the best free agents in the MLB. Each player’s decision could affect the future of multiple franchises.