Blake Snell Sep 19, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) looks on from the dugout during the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Super Bowl closed the book on the NFL season, which means MLB spring training is right around the corner.

Despite the imminent start to the preseason, several top free agents remain unsigned. There are a handful of reasons being tossed around, ranging from teams not having the money to expand payroll due to one of MLB’s broadcast partners, Diamond Sports, facing an uncertain future, to super-agent Scott Boras attempting to squeeze teams for every penny to get the best deal for his clients.

Whatever the case, there are still plenty of difference-makers available that could push a team over the hump.

Blake Snell – SP

Seven players in MLB history have won a Cy Young in both the American League and National League. Gaylord Perry, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Roy Halladay, and Blake Snell, who became the seventh when he was named 2023 NL Cy Young.

It’s pretty absurd that a two-time Cy Young winner is still on the market in mid-February.

The concerns around Snell are likely two-fold. He’s 31 years old and as a Boras client will almost certainly be seeking a deal in the five-year, $150 million range, similar to the deal signed by fellow Boras client and starting pitcher Carlos Rodón last offseason with the New York Yankees.

The other issue for Snell? In his eight-season MLB career, he’s pitched more than 150 innings in a season just twice, both of which were his Cy Young seasons.

Despite all of that, Snell is a prime example of a player who could come into a team and immediately provide front-of-the-rotation help. He also boasts a 3.33 career ERA in 48 career innings pitched in the postseason, so the left-hander has proven to be an asset in October.

Who needs Snell? Virtually every team.

The Yankees have been linked to Snell for months and general manager Brian Cashman has plenty of experience dealing with Boras, dating back to Alex Rodriguez’s trade to New York and eventual record-breaking extension. In a crowded AL East, signing Snell could definitely help the Yankees separate from the pack and return to the playoffs.

Prediction: New York Yankees

Cody Bellinger – 1B/CF

While there’s at least some logic to Snell still being on the market, Bellinger still being out there is preposterous.

After being non-tendered by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2022, capping off a six-year stay in LA where he won the 2017 NL Rookie of the Year, 2019 NL MVP, and 2020 World Series, Bellinger signed a one-year “prove it” deal with the Cubs, and he sure proved it.

In 130 games played with the Cubs, Bellinger led the team with a .307  batting average and 26 home runs, as Bellinger played a major key in Chicago remaining in the playoff race up until the last week of the season. He seemingly had a great time in Chicago and has been linked to the Cubs for much of the offseason.

So, what’s the holdup? It’s not clear. The sides are likely in disagreement about the financials but a team like the Cubs, which made a big splash to start the offseason by hiring manager Craig Counsell and play in one of the sport’s biggest markets really shouldn’t let that hold them back.

Earlier this week, Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer weighed in. “The closer is definitely warming up,” Hoyer said, in regards to whether the team plans to make any more moves this offseason.

Hoyer may be attempting to apply pressure to Bellinger and Boras to get a deal done. Ultimately, a reunion is still the most likely option.

Prediction: Chicago Cubs

Jordan Montgomery – SP

Montgomery may not have the pedigree of Snell, but he’s not a bad option for a team looking to bolster their rotation. After starting the 2023 season with the Cardinals, Montgomery was dealt to the Rangers in July. Montgomery wound up pitching 67.2 innings down the stretch for Texas with an additional 31 innings in the postseason as Texas won their first World Series in franchise history.

The Rangers, who will be without starting pitchers Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, and Tyler Mahle could really use a player like Montgomery who already has familiarity with the organization and is a proven commodity. The aforementioned Yankees also could be a fit for the 31-year-old lefty who spent the first six seasons of his career in New York. If the Yankees don’t get Snell, it would make a lot of sense for them to get Montgomery.

Rangers General Manager Chris Young said the team would remain “open” on Montgomery but is probably done making roster additions.

So, where does that leave the market for Montgomery? In addition to the Yankees, the Cubs make sense. They’re looking to replace starting pitcher Marcus Stroman who opted out of his contract and signed with the Yankees. A reunion with the Cardinals is also possible.

An off-the-wall pick is the Philadelphia Phillies. Aaron Nola and Montgomery could be a great 1-2 punch for a team that has made it to the NLCS in back-to-back seasons but fallen short due to a lack of pitching depth.

Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies

Matt Chapman – 3B

Over his seven-year career, Chapman has been one of the league’s best defensive players, netting four gold gloves. Chapman’s bat hasn’t always been as consistent as his glove, but he’s averaged 29 home runs a year.

As a missing piece on an already competitive team, Chapman could provide a lot of value.

Like Snell and Montgomery, Chapman is also 31 years old. Like Snell, Montgomery, and Bellinger, Chapman is also represented by Boras.

If Chapman goes into a slump at the plate, he still has his glove to fall back on. Not every player can say that which makes the third baseman perhaps the single most intriguing free agent left.

The Cubs check the boxes of needing a third baseman and also being close to contending. Just like with Bellinger, there’s no real reason for the team not to sign Chapman.

Prediction: Chicago Cubs

J.D. Martinez – Designated Hitter

MLB adopting a full-time DH for both leagues has extended J.D. Martinez’s career. He’s played just 12 innings in the outfield in the last two seasons and otherwise was a DH. He put together a 33-home-run campaign for the Dodgers in 2023 and was named to his sixth career All-Star team.

Martinez is also represented by Boras, but he also seems the most likely to sign a one-year deal. Before the 2023 season, he signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Dodgers.

Martinez is 36, making him the oldest player in this group. However, his still-robust power numbers should make him a natural fit for almost any team. He’s been linked to the Angels for most of the offseason, and after losing Shohei Ohtani to the crosstown Dodgers, it would make sense for the Angels to bring in Martinez to try and replace at least some of the offensive production that left with Ohtani.

Prediction: Los Angeles Angels

[Rob Friedman] [Andy Martinez] [Jeff Wilson][Brendan Miller] [MLB HR Video]