Tuesday, November 30 2021

Ranking the top 10 MLB free-agent outfielders originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Red Sox outfield exceeded expectations in 2021. But with several intriguing free-agent outfielders available this winter, Chaim Bloom and Co. could look to add some depth at the position.

Alex Verdugo, Kiké Hernandez, and Hunter Renfroe were Boston’s primary outfielders last season. Hernandez was signed as a super-utility player in the offseason, but he spent most of his time (97 games) in center field. He could switch to second base depending on how the team constructs its roster heading into 2022.

More free-agent rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | SP | RP

With Bloom’s affinity for versatile players, the Red Sox could opt to sign another utility man capable of playing the outfield such as Kris Bryant (in our top-five free-agent third basemen rankings) or Chris Taylor (one of our top-five free-agent second basemen). Here, we’ll take a look at the top 10 outfielders on the market.

10. Joc Pederson

Age: 29

2021 stats: .238/.310/.422, 18 HR, 61 RBI (137 games)

Pederson joined the Atlanta Braves at the 2021 trade deadline and was a key contributor down the stretch, including the NLDS vs. the Milwaukee Brewers when he posted a whopping 1.714 OPS. He became a two-time World Series champion and undoubtedly boosted his value heading into the offseason as a result. As he has his entire career, Pederson mashed right-handed pitching but struggled mightily against lefties.

9. Eddie Rosario

Age: 30

2021 stats: .259/.305/.435, 14 HR, 62 RBI (111 games)

Also joining the Braves at the deadline was Rosario, who turned around his disappointing 2021 season and became a postseason hero for Atlanta. He was named NLCS MVP after hitting .560 with three homers against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Rosario’s defense leaves plenty to be desired, but his bat makes him one of the more appealing outfield options this winter.

8. Andrew McCutchen

Age: 35

2021 stats: .222/.334/.444, 27 HR, 80 RBI (144 games)

McCutchen’s days as a perennial All-Star are far behind him, but the former MVP can still mash. When healthy, he’s a virtual lock for at least 20 homers in a season. His value will see a sizable boost if the universal DH is implemented in 2022.

7. Seiya Suzuki

Age: 27

2021 stats: .319/.436/.640, 38 HR, 88 RBI (133 games in Japan)

Obviously, it’s difficult to evaluate a player who has yet to play in the major leagues. That said, Suzuki projects as one of the top outfielders on the market after a stellar career in Japan. He’s a five-time All-Star in Nippon Professional Baseball with a career .315/.415/.571 slash line. Teams will gladly take a chance on a player with that kind of resume.

6. Mark Canha

Age: 33

2021 stats: .231/.358/.387, 17 HR, 61 RBI (141 games)

In typical Oakland A’s fashion, Canha has been one of the game’s more underrated outfielders over the last four seasons. He’s unlikely to receive a long-term deal since he’s heading into his age 33 season, but Canha should be a great addition to a club looking for corner outfield help.

5. Michael Conforto

Age: 29

2021 stats: .232/.344/.384, 14 HR, 55 RBI (125 games)

Last season was a rough one for Conforto, who raked for the New York Mets during the shortened 2020 campaign. The 2017 All-Star suffered a hamstring injury early in the season and couldn’t return to form as the slugging outfielder he had been for the last handful of years. It may be wise for Conforto to sign a one-year “prove it” deal this offseason and hit the market with improved offensive numbers in 2022.

4. Avisail Garcia

Age: 30

2021 stats: .262/.330/.490, 29 HR, 86 RBI (135 games)

In 2021, Garcia enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career and undoubtedly toted the biggest bat in the Milwaukee Brewers outfield. While his free-swinging approach at the plate can be frustrating at times, Garcia’s raw power should make him a hot commodity this offseason.

3. Kyle Schwarber

Age: 29

2021 stats: .266/.374/.554, 32 HR, 74 RBI (113 games)

Other than a hamstring injury that kept him out for more than a month, Schwarber’s 2021 season was sensational. In June, he was named NL Player of the Month with 16 home runs and four multi-homer games. He continued to rake after returning from injury as a key trade deadline acquisition for the Red Sox. Schwarber is about to get paid this offseason, especially if the DH is implemented in the National League.

2. Nick Castellanos

Age: 30

2021 stats: .309/.362/.576, 34 HR, 100 RBI (138 games)

Castellanos rivals Schwarber as the best hitter on this list. The nine-year veteran is another player who would benefit significantly from the universal DH as he can be a liability in the field. Even so, his bat more than makes up for any of his defensive shortcomings.

1. Starling Marte

Age: 33

2021 stats: .310/.383/.458, 12 HR, 55 RBI, 47 SB (120 games)

Marte is the best all-around outfielder in this year’s free-agent class with elite speed to go with his consistent bat. He led the league with 47 stolen bases in 2021, showing that age is just a number as he enters his age 33 campaign. And unlike most of the other options on this list, Marte can play a solid center field in addition to the value he brings at the plate.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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