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MLB free agency: No 2-way stars, but All-Star sluggers and Cy Young winners could be in ’24-25 class

 The Associated Press  |    Mar 27th, 2024 11:02am EDT

Baseball’s next free agency class won’t have a two-way star like Shohei Ohtani, and almost certainly no deals like his record-shattering $700 million over 10 years to switch teams in Los Angeles this year. But there could still be All-Star sluggers and Cy Young Award winners available.

Big hitters Juan Soto and Pete Alonso are going into their final seasons before potentially becoming free agents for the first time. So are past Cy Young winners Shane Bieber and Corbin Burnes.

Soto will make $31 million this season with the New York Yankees. They acquired him in December from San Diego, where he was traded in August 2022 after turning down a $440 million, 15-year offer to stay with the Washington Nationals. The three-time All-Star outfielder was already betting then on a better deal once he could finally become a free agent.

His agent is Scott Boras, who also represents Mets slugger Alonso and Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, another potential free agent.

Boras worked out multiyear contracts this offseason for two-time Cy Young winner Blake Snell and four-time Gold Glove third baseman Matt Chapman with the San Francisco Giants, and 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger to stay with the Chicago Cubs. All have player opt-outs that could allow them to be free agents again as early as next offseason.

Here are some of the players eligible for free agency after this year’s World Series:

OF Juan Soto, Yankees

Even Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has said he expects Soto to test free agency after this season. If the left-handed slugger does, he will then barely be 26 years old — his birthday is Oct. 25, around the same time the World Series would be starting.

Soto is a .284 career hitter with 160 home runs and 483 RBIs since his big league debut in 2018, a year before being part of the Nationals’ World Series title. His .421 career on-base percentage is the highest among active players. He hit .275 with 35 homers and 109 RBIs and led the majors in walks (132) for the third year in a row while playing all 162 games for San Diego last year.

1B Pete Alonso, Mets

Alonso avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $20.5 million, one-year contract for this season, but the Mets don’t anticipate a long-term deal before free agency with the three-time All-Star first baseman and 2019 NL Rookie of the Year.

The 29-year-old Alonso is a .251 career hitter with 192 homers. He set a rookie home run record with 53 in 2019, when he had 120 RBIs. He led the majors with 131 RBIs in 2022, and had 118 last year while hitting a career-low .217 with 46 homers.

RHP Shane Bieber, Guardians

The 2020 AL Cy Young winner has a 60-32 record with a 3.27 ERA in 134 career games. Cleveland’s 28-year-old ace has 937 strikeouts in 831 innings pitched. Bieber, who will make $13,125,000 this season, could become a trade target if the Guardians struggle again after going 76-86 last year.

RHP Corbin Burnes, Orioles

Burnes is already with a new team before free agency, going from Milwaukee to Baltimore in a trade among reigning division champions just before spring training. The 2021 NL Cy Young winner had at least 200 strikeouts each of the past three seasons, and was an All-Star each time. The 29-year-old was 45-27 with a 3.26 ERA and 870 strikeouts over 709 1/3 innings in six seasons with the Brewers.

LHP Max Fried, Braves

The winning pitcher for Atlanta in the clinching Game 6 of the 2021 World Series, Fried has a 62-26 record and 3.03 ERA in 139 games since his big league debut in 2017. The 30-year-old lefty was an All-Star in 2022, when he won his third consecutive Gold Glove. He is healthy now after going 8-1 with a 2.55 ERA last year when limited to only 14 starts (hamstring strain, left forearm).

3B Alex Bregman, Astros

Bregman is at the end of a $100 million, five-year deal after being part of two World Series championships, four AL pennants and the Astros’ seven consecutive trips to the AL Championship Series. Bregman, who turns 30 on Saturday, is .274 career hitter. He was last an All-Star in 2019, the year he was the AL MVP runner-up to Mike Trout after hitting .296 with 41 homers, 112 RBIs and an MLB-best 119 walks – all career highs.

2B Gleyber Torres, Yankees

Torres wants to spend his entire career with the Yankees. The 27-year-old was an All-Star his first two seasons, 2018 and 2019, and is a .267 career hitter. He hit 25 homers last season, his fourth with at least 24.

Some older pitchers

RHP Kenley Jansen, baseball’s active leader with 420 saves and 817 appearances, turns 37 on Sept. 30, the day after the regular season ends. His 15th MLB season will wrap up a $32 million, two-year deal with Boston. … Three-time Cy Young winners Justin Verlander (Astros) and Max Scherzer (Rangers) will both make $43.33 million in potential walk years after being traded last year by the Mets. The 41-year-old Verlander has a vesting $35 million player option for 2025 if he pitches 140 innings this season. Scherzer is out until at least midseason, around his 40th birthday, recovering from herniated disk surgery in lower back.

Some older hitters

Seven-time All-Star 1B Paul Goldschmidt, the 2022 NL MVP with 340 career homers, will be 37 when his $130 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals wraps up at the end of this season. … 3B Justin Turner, at 39 and coming off a career-high 96 RBIs with Boston, is starting a one-year deal with Toronto.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB