Aaron Judge officially hits the open market on Thursday when MLB free agency begins. This year's crop of free agents is full of superstar players, players with renewed value, and players looking for a second chance.
Judge headlines this group of players with his historic 2022 season. He set the American League record for most home runs in a season with 62 home runs. He will receive a massive payday on the open market from somebody.
However, he is far from the only superstar player testing the market. In particular, if your team needs a shortstop, this free-agent group is incredibly good. Starting pitching is another position where a team can find multiple high-end quality options.
Ranking anything, let alone who the best of the best MLB free agents are, is a difficult task. However, we're going to do it today. Here are the top five MLB free agents.
Aaron Judge and the top 5 2022-23 MLB free agents, ranked
5) Shortstop Dansby Swanson
Swanson is a former first-overall pick who has spent his entire major league career in Atlanta. He has his pick of the litter for the first time, and he is coming off a really good showcase season.
The 28-year-old Georgia native became one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. He was an All-Star for the first time in his career, and he doubled his career-high WAR.
The knock on Swanson is his offense. Of the star shortstops available, he probably has the weakest bat. This isn't to say he's necessarily bad at the plate, but he isn't as capable as those above him in this list.
Overall, Swanson is a World Series champion coming off his best season. He's also only missed two games total the last two seasons after struggling with injuries early on in his career. He is a reliable player and an upgrade for many teams.
4) Shortstop Trea Turner
Turner is another one of those star shortstops available on the market. He has spent the last season and a half with the Los Angeles Dodgers following six and a half seasons with the Washington Nationals.
Turner is extremely durable, having missed just 57 games throughout the last five seasons. He is a reliable base-stealing threat, swiping at least 30 bases in six of his eight Major League seasons.
He is very good offensively. No player has posted a higher fWAR since the 2019 MLB season. And, like Swanson, Turner is coming off his best career season.
Turner is the oldest of the top three shortstops but is a dynamic player who can change the game no matter the team he is on.
3) Starting pitcher Jacob deGrom
Admittedly, this is a choice influenced a lot by potential. Because when deGrom is on the mound, there is no better pitcher in Major League Baseball right now.
However, therein lies the issue. deGrom has had trouble staying on the field. He has struggled with various injuries and has made just 26 starts in the last two seasons.
2022 saw deGrom pitch great, but not up to his usual lofty standards. He pitched to a 3.08 ERA this past season while maintaining a 5-4 record. It wasn't too long ago that deGrom pitched to a sparkling 1.70 ERA on a New York Mets team that seemed allergic to giving him run support.
Despite getting up there in age, deGrom will command a decent payday, and he's earned every penny. He shouldn't command a long-term deal, making a contract worthwhile for a lot of the league's top teams.
2) Shortstop Carlos Correa
Correa returns to the free-agent market following a single season with the Minnesota Twins. He was emphatically the best option on the market a year ago. However, he only has a slight edge over the shortstops this season.
Correa's defense took a dive last season, but he can bounce back. That process may involve a move to third base, but it shouldn't be a major deterrent to interested parties.
He was still a force at the plate in all facets. A slow start to the season saw some of his numbers dip a bit, but he hit for a .291 batting average. That mark is his highest since 2017.
The main source of praise for Correa this season was his leadership. He helped the Twins push towards a postseason spot for most of the season until things fell apart in September. And his teammates gave him a lot of credit.
Correa is still amongst the elite shortstops at the position, and he should secure the long term deal he missed out on last season.
1) Outfielder Aaron Judge
Of course, Judge headlines this list. He established himself as the best hitter on the planet last season. And he is about to be compensated like it this winter.
As mentioned, Judge set the American League record for most homers in a season. However, that isn't the only astonishing statistic from this past season.
Judge posted a weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 207. This is the highest mark of any player within the last 50 years not named Barry Bonds.
Judge bet on himself when he decided against signing an extension with the New York Yankees before the season. It's about to pay off better than any self-bet in recent sports history this winter.