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Fair or Foul: Free agents who should sign the quickest after the lockout

While the current MLB lockout still has no prospects of ending soon, there are still hundreds of free agents waiting to sign on the dotted line. Whenever they are allowed to start negotiating new contracts again, there are some who should try to sign especially quickly. That may be either due to their value being as high as ever, or for teams needing services from a player of their skillset in order to take the next step. Here are six free agents who should agree to new deals as soon as possible.

Alexia Nizhny/DFP STAFF
  • OF/DH Kyle Schwarber (2021 Teams: Nationals and Red Sox)

Especially if the universal designated hitter gets adopted in the new collective bargaining agreement, Schwarber’s bat will be demanded by nearly every team. What is there not to like about him? He will only be 29-years-old in 2022, slugged .554 last year, and now has experience playing outfield, first base and DH which gives him an extra layer of versatility. He hits for more power than almost anyone in the league, and who doesn’t want a lefty slugger batting at the top of their lineup?

  • OF/DH Jorge Soler (2021 Teams: Royals and Braves)

Soler falls into the same category as Schwarber, but has two additional positive qualities that make him more attractive and likelier to sign sooner. Soler is the reigning World Series M.V.P. and has proven that he can come through against the best of the best in the most important moments. Additionally, he is less versatile than Schwarber while also being streakier. This means he will likely want less (and cost less), which may attract even more teams than Schwarber.

  • RHP Ryan Tepera (2021 Teams: Cubs and White Sox)

Tepera might be 34-years-old, but he’s actually one of the best relief pitchers still available. He kept his ERA under 3.00 and played a key bullpen role for both the Cubs and White Sox. He can command a higher-value, short-term deal from the one of many teams that are either contending and need bullpen help or on the rise and can always use more depth. 

  • IF Jonathan Villar (2021 Team: Mets)

Villar is a very underrated player in this free agency class. He is a switch hitter who can steal bases, play every infield position and some outfield, and will only be 31-years-old next season. While elite free agents like Kris Bryant, Trevor Story, Carlos Correa and Freddie Freeman will likely set the new rates for the top-of-the-line talent, Villar can fly under the radar and be an average-or-better super-utility player for a depth-deprived team out there.

  • SP Clayton Kershaw (2021 Team: Dodgers)

There are a couple of free agents, Kershaw and Freeman most notably, who have spent more than a decade in the majors all with the same team. Both have a chance to move to new teams in 2022. Kershaw has dealt with minor to moderate injuries over the last five seasons, and that might allow him to capitalize on the mad-dash to sign everyone. He can get a multi-year deal that greatly benefits him while being able to pitch to the level of a No. 2 or No. 1 starter whenever he is healthy.

  • 1B Anthony Rizzo (2021 Teams: Cubs, Yankees)

Rizzo is the next best first baseman available after Freddie Freeman. His OPS hovered just under .800 with both the Yankees and Cubs, while his elite defense and ability to beat the shift greatly uplifted the Bombers’ lineup. For any team that needs a first baseman or a steady lefty bat, Rizzo could catch the eye of many teams who don’t want to trade for a better option or drop over $200 million on Freeman. 

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