MLB players playing for their next contract in 2020

MLB is set for a shortened 60-game season, but the implications are the same for pending free agents looking for their next contract. Here’s a look the stars playing for a big payday in 2021.

Trevor Bauer, SP, Reds

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Bauer would like to put his 2019 season behind him, and he has a 60-game sprint to do just that. After posting a 2.21 ERA and making the All-Star team in 2018, his ERA ballooned to 4.48 in 34 starts last season. A strong 2020 could net Bauer a huge payday.

Michael Brantley, OF, Astros

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Brantley played well in the first year of a two-year deal with Houston, hitting .311-22-90 and making his third consecutive All-Star appearances. He’s overcome a couple of injury-plagued seasons to stay relatively healthy over the last two years, and he could earn another nice contract if he can make it three healthy seasons in a row.

Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Mets

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Cespedes’ four-year, $80 million contract has been an absolute disaster for the Mets, but he might convince a team to give him another big contract if he can get on a run in the shortened season. He has the advantage of the DH this year after missing all of last season with foot and ankle injuries.

Ken Giles, RP, Blue Jays

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Giles reestablished himself as an elite closer last season, with a 1.87 ERA and 23 saves. Durability has been a concern with fewer than 60 appearances in each of the last two seasons, so an unscathed 2020 will be important for Giles as he enters free agency.

Didi Gregorius, SS, Phillies

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Gregorius settled on a one-year deal with Philadelphia after an injury-shortened 2019 season. The power-hitting shortstop could get a multiyear deal if he gets on a hot streak this year.

Liam Hendriks, RP, Athletics

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Was Hendriks’ breakout 2019 season real? The Aussie was an All-Star last season with a 1.80 ERA, 25 saves, and 124 strikeouts in 85 innings for Oakland. Another similar season could get him a huge multiyear deal.

DJ LeMahieu, INF, Yankees

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Getting out of Coors Field was no problem for LeMahieu, who won the Silver Slugger with the Yankees last season after hitting .327-26-102. He probably has to prove those numbers were not a fluke before a team really takes the plunge in free agency.

Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals

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Entering his 17th season with St. Louis, Molina has already stated that he’d like to play beyond 2020. It remains to be seen if that will be with the Cardinals, as his numbers declined last year and the team has a quality catching prospect in Andrew Knizner.

Jake Odorizzi, SP, Twins

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Can we believe Odorizzi’s 2019 performance? He won 15 games with a 3.51 ERA in 30 starts for the Twins, making his first All-Star appearance. Odorizzi is hoping for a similar performance after accepting arbitration in the offseason.

Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers

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Pederson had a career-high 36 home runs last year and should continue to see regular at-bats between the outfield and DH this year. The big power could take Pederson a long way in free agency next offseason.

Mike Minor, SP, Rangers

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Texas has already gotten its money’s worth from a three-year, $28 million contract with Minor. He enters the final year of the deal after going 14-10 with a 3.59 ERA and throwing 208.1 innings last year. If his cutter continues to be effective, Minor could make far more money next offseason.

Marcell Ozuna, LF, Braves

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Ozuna’s market wasn’t as robust as hoped last offseason, and he settled for a one-year deal with Atlanta. His bat is still highly capable of getting hot in a shortened season, as it did in 2017 when he hit .312-37-124 with the Marlins.

James Paxton, SP, Yankees

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Paxton has already had some good fortune this season, with the pause giving him time to recover from offseason surgery. He enters Opening Day healthy and could reward himself, after winning 15 games with a 3.82 ERA in 29 starts last year.

Jose Quintana, SP, Cubs

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Quintana’s time with the Cubs hasn’t been as successful as hoped, and he’s missing time in summer camp after a fluke hand injury suffered in a home accident. The lefty is coming off a 4.68 ERA last season, as he tries to rehab his value going into free agency.

Robbie Ray, SP, Diamondbacks

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The erratic Ray has at least 12 strikeouts per nine innings in three consecutive seasons, but his high walk rate has limited his success over the last two years. Getting his control together in the shortened season could make him very rich next offseason.

J.T. Realmuto, C, Phillies

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Realmuto’s contract negotiations with Philadelphia have already been a hot topic this summer. He established himself as the top catcher in baseball last season, winning a Gold Glove and his second straight Silver Slugger Award. Philadelphia would probably prefer that Realmuto not reach free agency.

Marcus Semien, SS, Athletics

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Semien had a breakout 2019 season, becoming a true superstar by hitting .285-33-92 and finishing third in the AL MVP voting. If he shows that performance was for real, Semien will be set for an enormous new contract.

Andrelton Simmons, SS, Angels

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Simmons is the gold standard defensively at shortstop, but he’s coming off a poor 2019 season due to ankle injuries. A rebound both offensively and defensively will be important as he enters free agency.

George Springer, CF, Astros

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Houston allowed Gerrit Cole to walk last offseason, and Springer could be next. The Astro made his third consecutive All-Star appearance last year and hit .292-39-96 as the team’s leadoff man.

Marcus Stroman, SP, Mets

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Stroman got back on track last year after a poor 2018, with a 3.22 ERA in 32 starts. The Mets will be relying on him more this year after losing Noah Syndergaard for the year, and it will be interesting to see if the New York native gives the Mets a hometown discount next offseason.

Masahiro Tanaka, SP, Yankees

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Tanaka already got a scare this summer by taking a Giancarlo Stanton liner to the head, but it sounds like he should be OK for the start of 2020. The longtime Yankee made his second All-Star appearance last season but has struggled in recent years to keep the ball in the park. Getting out of Yankee Stadium next season might be the best thing for him.

Justin Turner, 3B, Dodgers

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Turner is a late bloomer who seems to age like a fine wine. He hit .290-27-67 in only 135 games last season at age 34. Another strong season should get him a multiyear contract next offseason, even with his advanced age.

Jonathan Villar, UT, Marlins

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The Marlins took a flier on Villar after Baltimore no longer wanted him, and there’s a strong possibility he will play center field in 2020. A natural middle infielder, the additional versatility can only help Villar’s free agent value. He’s trying to build on last year’s great offensive performance when he hit 24 home runs and swiped 40 bases.

Kirby Yates, RP, Padres

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If Yates isn’t baseball’s best closer, he’s at least in the conversation. The right-hander led the NL with 41 saves last season, also posting a 1.19 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 60.2 innings. One more good season should net him a life-changing contract.

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