Jim Bowden predicts the contracts of MLB’s top free agents

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Over the weekend, Jim Bowden released an article for The Athletic that ranked MLB’s top free agents and predicted the contracts they will sign this offseason. Two Braves made the list, Dansby Swanson, who came in at #9, and Kenley Jansen, who was ranked #22. Bowden predicts Atlanta’s shortstop will sign a six-year deal worth $154 million, which is just slightly higher than $25 million a season. Here was his reasoning:

The Braves are interested in re-signing Swanson, but after arguably the best year of his career his market value has skyrocketed. It’s going to be intriguing to watch the game of musical chairs as the top four free-agent shortstops sort out where they’ll play in 2023. Swanson will probably have to wait until after Correa, Turner and Bogaerts sign to receive his best offer. He’s ranked fourth by most of the teams that will be in on shortstops.

About a week ago, Keith Law wrote a very similar piece to Bowden’s. Law ranked MLB’s top 50 free agents, and he had Swanson all the way up at #3… ahead of Aaron Judge. And while Law didn’t give specific contract predictions, he did state that he believes Swanson is worth more than $30 million AAV.

Even as the leader of the Dansby Swanson fan club, I’m not that high on the Marietta product. I do think he could fetch around $30 million a year in free agency because it only takes one team to be infatuated with Swanson for the bidding to get out of hand. And if Swanson continues to improve as he has in each of the last few seasons, he will be well worth every penny as one of the premier shortstops in the game.

Opinions also vary on Jansen, who had a rocky campaign for Atlanta in 2022 but played his best baseball at the end of the year and still led the league in saves. FanGraphs has Jansen settling for a one-year contract worth $10 million, but Bowden believes Jansen will be viewed as a much more valuable commodity this offseason, inking a two-year, $34 million deal.

Jansen is the best closer on the free-agent market after Díaz. He’s always reinventing himself and making adjustments to stay successful. He was brilliant for the Braves, converting 41 of 48 save opportunities, posting a 3.38 ERA and striking out 85 in 64 innings. He was able to maintain his fastball, cutter and slider average velocity from the prior year. He ranked in the 97th percentile in xERA/xwOBA, the 98th percentile in xBA, the 93rd percentile in xSLG and the 95th percentile in fastball spin.

Jansen’s peripherals still paint him as one of the best closers in the league, and the Braves have said they are interested in bringing him back, but at what price? I imagine Alex Anthopoulos would be very interested in keeping him on a one-year deal, but if he’s looking for something more like what Bowden has predicted, I would be shocked if the Braves retained him.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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