Predicting where Blake Snell, Cody Bellinger, and Jordan Montgomery land as free agent sagas clash with Spring Training

blake snell, jordan montgomery

With Jorge Soler off the board, we look at where Blake Snell and other top free agents still available will land with pitchers and catchers around MLB now arriving for spring training.

Another free-agent domino finally fell Tuesday, with slugger Jorge Soler reportedly agreeing to a three-year deal worth a guaranteed $45 million with the San Francisco Giants.

It’s an obvious fit. Soler brings legitimate right-handed power to a club that likely will employ three left-handed hitters in the outfield. Soler, who turns 32 this month, is primarily a designated hitter these days but can play the corner outfield spots a couple of times per week, if needed.

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He adds postseason experience to a club that desperately wants to return to the playoffs and, when healthy, is a bat that can quickly change a score.

Soler objectively was the fifth-best free agent still on the board as pitchers and catchers report to Arizona and Florida this week. The top four are still available. All four are clients of the Boras Corporation.

With Soler landing, the fifth-best free agent on the market is now J.D. Martinez, another Boras client. This is a little unusual. But not shocking. Boras, the king of baseball agents, has a plan. And he doesn’t let artificial deadlines alter those plans.

Still, no one likes to arrive at training camp late, especially pitchers, who are creatures of habit. And we’ve seen in the past that pitchers who have signed in late February and early March often struggle to be effective or stay healthy early on in a regular season.

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So, there are reasons for the top guys to sign soon. Boras, however, has played these hands for years. He is holding out for what he believes will be best for his clients; the numbers will be there when the contracts are finally inked.

Here’s a look at the top four free agents still waiting for a deal.

Blake Snell

blake snell, jordan montgomery

Thoughts: Maybe this surprises you: The 2023 National League Cy Young Award winner doesn’t have a job as pitchers and catchers report. Crazy, right? This was not a tough one to predict, honestly.  

The market, and specifically the pitching market, was set this offseason by two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani’s deal with the Dodgers (10 years, $700 million) and then the Dodgers’ secondary move, agreeing to a 12-year, $325 million contract with Japanese sensation Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Neither was a Boras client and so that dust didn’t settle until January.

Helping Snell’s cause is that Ohtani and Yamamoto went to one team, meaning there are plenty of deep-pocket suitors remaining, and everyone in baseball could use Snell. Sure, there are some slight concerns such as future workload and high-walk rates.

But a reigning Cy Young doesn’t come available every day; Boras knows that, and that’s why he has taken his time. And teams know that. Snell isn’t going to lose money here. Someone is gonna blink and is going to pay an exorbitant asking price, or close to it.

The usual suspects have been bandied about: the New York Yankees, New York Mets, and the Giants as well as the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Angels. I suppose you can never count out the Dodgers, too. I think it would be a brilliant move for the Blue Jays because they already have an excellent pitching staff. Adding Snell would make it exceptional.

Prediction: New York Yankees. All of this dancing, and it just seems like something the Yankees eventually get done. Do they really want to go into the season with people discussing why the Baltimore Orioles should be the favorites in the American League East? That’s blasphemy in the Bronx.

Cody Bellinger

blake snell, jordan montgomery

Thoughts: Besides Ohtani, Bellinger was the best hitter on this list when free agency opened in November. He still is. My original thought was that the Chicago Cubs wouldn’t let him walk. There was finally a heartbeat at Wrigley Field last year and it appears the Milwaukee Brewers are heading back to the pack in the NL Central. So, why would the Cubs let the center of that resurgence go somewhere else? They have the money. They are the Cubs.

But the longer this drags on, the longer you wonder if other teams see Bellinger as the missing piece. We all know the talent is there. Bellinger won the NL MVP in 2019 at age 24 with the Dodgers and appeared to be the face of that franchise for years to come.

He then imploded in his next three seasons in LA, dropping his OPS from an other-worldly 1.035 in 2019 to .789, .542, and .654. Last year, he hooked on with the Cubs and returned to form, slashing .307/.356/.525 with 26 homers, 20 steals, and excellent defense.

His position flexibility is a plus and his age – he doesn’t turn 29 until July – makes him a good candidate for a long-term deal (there will be opt-outs, I’m sure).

Prediction: Chicago Cubs. My money is still on a return to Chicago and that is the sense around the game. But teams such as the Blue Jays, Giants, and Mariners have all reportedly shown interest.

Jordan Montgomery

blake snell, jordan montgomery

Thoughts: OK, I’m surprised he is still around – for two reasons. One, Montgomery had an amazing 2023, led a team to a World Series title, and was still a tick below some of the other pitchers on the market. I assumed that would make him the target of an aggressive club that wasn’t waiting for Yamamoto or Ohtani to sign.

Secondly, what are the Texas Rangers thinking? There’s been talk about some financial difficulties there apparently, but they just won the World Series and Montgomery was a huge reason down the stretch and into the postseason. When I last saw him in the playoffs, I just assumed he’d be a Ranger for the next five-plus years. And he isn’t yet.

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Texas, despite winning its first championship in franchise history, is not the favorite in the AL West in 2024. That title still belongs to the rival Houston Astros, who fortified their bullpen with the signing of Josh Hader.

Bring back Montgomery, and the odds may shift back toward the Rangers. Let him walk and they are definitely playing uphill again. Rumors are swirling that Montgomery will be signing soon, and the Rangers appear to be the favorites, still. Besides them, the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, Yankees, Giants, and Angels have all been connected to him.

Prediction: Texas Rangers. Like Bellinger to the Cubs Montgomery to the Rangers just makes too much sense for it not to happen. But, money talks, especially this late.

Matt Chapman

blake snell, jordan montgomery

Thoughts: If any of the big four’s free agents take a hit because of lingering in free agency, Chapman is my guess. He is a solid player and stand-up individual that any club would like to have in the dirt and the clubhouse.

He’s a tremendous luxury, not a necessity, though. No team is a Matt Chapman away from a ring (but they may be a Snell, Montgomery, or Bellinger away). His best attribute is his defense, but that’s not valued like it should be, especially when it is on the corners and not up the middle.

I sensed that Chapman would end up with someone who understood his value. Maybe that’s Toronto and that still appears to be a possibility but I had heard San Francisco — where new Giants skipper Bob Melvin had Chapman for five seasons in Oakland.

By adding Soler and Korean star Jung Hoo Lee, the Giants have boosted their offense this offseason, and they may be content with a payroll in the top 15 of baseball, but not the top 10.

The game of musical chairs seems to be closing in on Chapman – and J.D. Martinez – but the Giants, Blue Jays, Cubs, Angels, and Yankees should be able to find room for a player with such an outstanding glove and power potential.

Prediction: Unsure. Maybe the Los Angeles Angels will see him as a wonderful consolation prize to their offseason shopping list. Or maybe the Mets decide that Brett Baty isn’t quite ready to be the full-time starter at third and a shorter deal for Chapman pans out.   

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