Starling Marte is the top free-agent outfielder available in MLB free agency, putting the All-Star hitter on the open market with an opportunity to pick his team for the first time in his career. While age might work against him, Marte will generate plenty of interest this offseason.
Thanks to a midseason trade to the Oakland Athletics, Marte isn’t attached to a qualifying offer and any potential draft-pick forfeitures or international bonus pool reductions for any team that signs him. It’s a huge boost for the 33-year-old, making him even more attractive to both contenders and clubs looking to make a jump in 2022.
With that in mind, let’s examine the best free-agent landing spots for Starling Marte.
Philadelphia Phillies sign Starling Marte
The Phillies can’t come out of the offseason without an upgrade in center field. Philadelphia has cast a wide net, experimenting with internal and external options in recent years and with plenty of money to spend, it’s time to get serious about the position. Another year of Phillies’ center fielders ranking 23rd in wRC+ (84), wOBA (.299) and 30th in Defensive Runs Saved (-52) won’t fly.
- Starling Marte stats (2021): .308/.381/.456. 12 home runs, 47 stolen bases, 89 runs scored, 133 wRC+
Marte played very well for the Miami Marlins last season, slashing .305/.405/.451 across 64 games. But getting traded into a competitive environment sparked something in him. Across his final 56 games, Marte stole 25 bases, scored 37 runs and posted a .312 batting average in Oakland.
Put Marte atop the Phillies lineup and it sets up Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins for even more run-producing opportunities. For Philadelphia’s pitchers, who had to deal with poor defense, Marte will make plenty of highlight plays to save runs and hits. He needs to be atop the team’s offseason wishlist.
Detroit Tigers make another splash in free agency
We’ve already seen Detroit make a big move, signing Eduardo Rodríguez to bolster the front of its starting rotation. But this is going to be just the first of several offseason moves for the Tigers. With needs across the diamond, general manager Al Avila should next turn his focus to the outfield.
- Starling Marte fielding stats (FanGraphs): 1.0 UZR/150, 3.5 ARM Rating, 3 errors, -4 Defensive Runs Saved (1,022.1 innings)
Detroit’s center fielders finished the season with the second-fewest Defensive Runs Saved (-51), the second-lowest ARM Rating (-11.4) and the lowest UZR/150 (-7.4). While fielding as a whole was a problem, the middle of the outfield essentially became open space for opposing hitters. Marte might no longer be a great fielder, but he’s an upgrade over what the Tigers deployed in 2021. If they move him to right field, he’d be even better defensively.
Yankees fill void in lineup, center field
Everyone knows the Yankees want to improve their outfield this winter. A blockbuster trade for Bryan Reynolds or Ketel Marte would be ideal, but New York could easily address the need in free agency. Among the benefits Marte offers, he could sign a short-term contract to help the Yankees avoid any long-term financial commitments.
Adding Marte’s bat to the Yankees lineup would be a huge boost, but his speed is even more important. New York was often slow-footed on the bases this past season, both in terms of stolen bases (19th) and in FanGraphs’ Speed Score (29th). While New York boasts the sluggers to score runs, adding a player like Marte who can give this team an additional boost by turning singles into doubles and puts himself in scoring position, would be monumental.
Starling Marte stays in the Bay Area
While Marte only spent a few months in the Bay Area, he certainly seemed to thrive during that stretch. If he wants to join a potential World Series contender and an organization that emphasizes versatility, speed and run production, the San Francisco Giants could be the perfect landing spot.
- Starling Marte contract prediction: 3 years, $63 million
There are a few holes in the Giants lineup right now. Buster Posey retired and both Brandon Belt and Kris Bryant are free agents. But an estimated 2022 payroll of $79 million and a willingness to go past $150 million gives San Francisco the flexibility to reshape its entire roster. Marte would be the ideal leadoff hitter and his style would play perfectly at Oracle Park. For $21 million a year, this could be a good fit for both the club and the player.