Baseball may be falling behind both the NFL and the NBA in terms of American and worldwide popularity, but it’s not for a lack of trying. The sport has plenty of young stars who are ready to cement their place as the present in the MLB, but unfortunately for them, not all of them are in situation that will allow them to succeed on a team level. As it stands right now, some of them may change their situation.
From lethal, flame-throwing starters to power hitting outfielders to slick, 5-tool infielders, the current landscape is changing quite rapidly. Although it’s probably too early to make predictions, some of these guys could genuinely go down as some of the best players of all-time.
So sit back and read along as we look at 15 current young MLB stars and whether they will re-sign with their current team at the end of their deal or will do the opposite and jump ship to a team. Whether that be a team that will give them a chance to win a ring, or be it a big money contract.
15 Re-sign – Andrew Benintendi
The Boston Red Sox are currently one of the most star-studded teams in all of professional sports. With the Yankees also having a great team, it’s going to make the 2018 AL East race quite a fun one from start to finish.
While you can look at the likes of J.D Martinez or Mookie Betts as the driving force behind this team (I’d also agree with the Betts argument), you can’t deny that Andrew Benintendi is more than a key piece for this lineup. He hasn’t quite hit his prime yet but when he does, many scouts and MLB analysts see Benintendi as a 5-tool player.
Even if the Red Sox can’t afford to keep all of their stars beyond 2019/2020, Benintendi is one they need to keep or they’ll forever regret letting him go.
Sure, it probably wouldn’t be as bad as letting Babe Ruth go, but this team is going to be battling the incredibly young New York Yankees for years to come. They can’t rely on the likes of J.D Martinez, Chris Sale and David Price forever, so unless they want to see New York raise banner number #28 and #29 and so on, they need to do whatever they can to lock up Andrew Benintendi for a very long time. Preferably his entire career.
14 Jump ship – Yoan Moncada
Yoan Moncada may not be one of the biggest or the brightest names in the Majors because he doesn’t have the spotlight of a Kris Bryant, Aaron Judge or Andrew Benintendi. He certainly has star potential, and if he can move on from the Chicago White Sox following his current contract, Moncada could find himself as an All-Star, especially if he can play to his potential.
At just 22 years of age, the Cuban Third Baseman has already spent two years in the majors, and although he doesn’t have the team success or the statistical output that matches most on this list over that period of time, it’s only a matter of time until he breaks out as a star in this game. That will come with experience.
It’s always a risk when you take an overseas player, and the Red Sox took that risk, giving Yoan a $31.5 million signing bonus. After his first year didn’t pan out, he found himself with the White Sox, but it’s safe to say that the Indians are going to run the AL Central for quite some time, so it would be smart of Moncada to move on to a true contender. If he can play on a team with another star to take the spotlight of him, he’ll no doubt grow into the star that we all know he can be.
13 Re-sign – Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge had a monster rookie year back in 2017 and while there are certain flaws in his game, the amount of strikeouts being the most notable, those can definitely be fixed over time. Although he’s quite old for a rookie, Judge has a huge future ahead of him. When his current rookie contract is up, there’s absolutely no way he’d leave the Yankees. Seriously, who would want to leave a lineup that sees you hitting in front of Didi Gregorius, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez?
On the same note, the Yankees would be beyond clumsy to let such a promising young star like Judge go.
In a small ballpark at Yankee Stadium, Judge has had a fantastic start to his career, and it just makes sense for both sides to stay together. Sure, this may mean that the Yankees have to let go of another prospect before paying them big money, maybe someone like Clint Frazier or Greg Bird, but Judge has the potential to be the best power hitter in all of baseball.
When he reaches his prime and the rest of these Yankee prospects become Major League ready, the rest of the league better watch out.
12 Jump ship – Joey Gallo
The Texas Rangers have been World Series contenders for a number of years now, but their team is certainly ageing. Their future success would be determined by young up-starts Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazzaro, but Gallo has underperformed quite a bit through his young career. However, at the age of 24 and with three years under his belt already, he has a huge future ahead of him. If he’s put in the right situation, he could break out as one of the premier power threats in all of baseball.
His power has always been a constant threat in the deep Rangers lineup, but his average is something that definitely needs work. If he can develop that part of his game plus his fielding, where he can play both Third Base and Left Field, he’ll no doubt be a star.
Sometimes, it’s just as simple as changing a situation for someone to kickstart their career, and Gallo has all the talent in the world.
If he can sign with a contender that will put him right in the heart of a playoff race, as well as protect him in the lineup, we could be looking at a future MVP in Joey Gallo.
11 Re-sign – Dansby Swanson
Dansby Swanson was selected with the first overall pick in the MLB draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, but the team wanted to go with a win-now attitude, and it led to him being traded to Atlanta for Shelby Miller. Although Miller has been decent for Arizona, Swanson has broken out as a star. If his performances in 2017 are anything to go by, that trade could have been one of the best things to happen in franchise history for Atlanta, as he, along with Ronald Acuna Jr. have significantly increased the speed of their rebuilding process.
Adding these two in a lineup with the polished Freddie Freeman makes this Braves team quite a promising one for the future. However, if they look to be a threat now and if they can develop and improve their rotation over the next year, they could be a threat to win the NL East (especially with an entry we bring up later in this piece).
Either way, Swanson is one of the most promising stars in the game, even if he isn’t known as much as the others who have performed in the playoffs. There’s no way he’s leaving Atlanta as he is a key part of their future.
10 Jump ship – Addison Russell
The Chicago Cubs finally ended their 108 year World Series drought back in 2016 and there were a lot of factors that contributed to that historic run. It was mainly on the back of their young stars like Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Addison Russell but now that all of these guys need to be paid (Rizzo has already been paid, but so have other veterans, which doesn’t help their salary situation).
Someone has to miss out on remaining a Cub and they definitely won’t want to lose the rock solid stud Kris Bryant or the flare of Baez, so Russell may end up being the odd man out.
Along with those aforementioned players are Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber, one of those two may also be forced out due to having to pay other players
We’ve kept the list to one player per team on either side of the list, so it looks like the solid shortstop will be on his way out. Russell will never be the most flashy or exciting player in the league but he has all the tools it takes to be a Championship caliber shortstop. It will be interesting to see where he goes, because it unfortunately won’t be the Chicago Cubs.
9 Re-sign – Noah Syndergaard
The New York Mets made it to the World Series back in 2015 and although they came up short against the fantastic Kansas City Royals, their rotation stood up and performed on the biggest stage in baseball. They’ve lost Matt Harvey since but still maintain one of the best rotations in baseball, and that success is 100% led by Noah Syndergaard, better known as “Thor” for his long locks.
Thor combines electric stuff with serious heat, and although he’s still quite young, he’s very mature for his age. Pitching in front of the likes of Jacob DeGrom helps his cause, and with the team doing quite well in 2018, there’s really no reason for him to leave New York.
Sure, the big money deal could be quite tempting, as Noah could lead any rotation in the majors and turn them around, but DeGrom, Steven Matz and Zach Wheeler will likely all be back, and there’s absolutely no reason for Thor to leave. With Atlanta and Philadelphia both looking like promising teams in the near future, the Mets are going to need to keep this rotation in tact if they’d like to experience the postseason again. He's is a critical part of that, and the better he gets, the worse it makes the Blue Jays look for trading him away for R.A Dickey.
8 Jump ship – Rougned Odor
Rougned Odor may be most famous around the world for the fight with the Blue Jays that saw him punch Jose Bautista in the face, but outside of that, he’s actually become one of the better second basemen in baseball. With the Rangers recent struggles following their five-six year World Series window, Odor will no doubt be looking to seek a Championship contender to add attitude and flair too.
He is currently signed for several more years but he’ll still be young enough for another long term deal at the end of his current contract.
If he can improve his average in the final years with Texas on his current deal, his power will no doubt make him an attractive Free Agent for a team trying to push themselves over the edge to become serious World Series threats. He won't sign with the Blue Jays as the bad blood continues. Here's what Toronto's Marcus Stroman recently had to say about the player:
"But I could tell you I couldn't care less what that guy (Odor) is doing, man," Stroman said after the game, according to Sportsnet's Shi Davidi. "I couldn’t throw strikes today. What he’s doing in the box is zero concern to me. I know who I am. I’m right there. Zero scared of anybody when I'm in the box and I couldn't care less what anybody is doing, gesture-wise. Like I said, I'm right there. If you have a problem, I'm right there."
7 Re-sign – Kris Bryant
The Chicago Cubs struggled as one of the worst teams in the MLB for several years and outside of Anthony Rizzo, they didn’t have a promising young star that they could build around. That’s where Kris Bryant came in, who had a fantastic rookie year, and he’s only gone from strength to strength since. The Cubs have managed to build their team around Rizzo, Bryant and other young stars.
With guys like Ian Happ and Javier Baez in the lineup, Bryant hasn’t had to do as much offensively to make his mark but he’s still having a fantastic career. At the young age of just 26, he’s become a real leader for this Cubs franchise, and after leading them to the 2016 World Series along with his Most Valuable Player award, they’d be crazy to let him walk.
As we’ve already mentioned with Addison Russell, this team is so loaded with young stars and overpaid veterans, so we know that they can’t keep all of their young studs. However, Bryant has been one of the standout players in the National League since his debut in 2015. If the Cubs want to stay competitive in the increasingly tough NL Central, then they need to do all they can to keep Bryant - who has now become the face of this historic, dominant franchise.
6 Jump ship – Matt Olson
Matt Olson is one of the most underrated players in the game today. His rookie year in 2017 was sensational as he hit 24 Home Runs (even though he was quite overshadowed by the amazing year of Cody Bellinger). Even though the Athletics aren’t going to contend in the AL West this year up against the might of the Houston Astros, he is going to be a key part of that going forward.
Unfortunately, the Athletics don’t have the ability to build a team. As we’ve seen over the past few years, and Olson is going to see the writing on the wall. He’s going to try and leave and with his diverse ability as both a first basemen and a right fielder, he could be a valuable member of a playoff team in the coming years.
It will be quite interesting to see how Olson continues his career in his second year. If he can develop and build on what was an exceptional start to his career, he could be a big star in the future. Unfortunately for the struggling Oakland Athletics, they aren’t going to turn into the Golden State Warriors as they are about to lose one of their most important future stars.
5 Re-sign – Madison Bumgarner
Madison Bumgarner has been a star in the Major Leagues ever since his first big appearance in the World Series way back in 2010 where he pitched a crucial shutout victory against the Rangers in a San Francisco series win. Somehow, he’s still only 28 years old and if he can overcome the unfortunate injury bug that he’s been plagued with over the past two seasons, he’ll again be a huge star. With all he’s given San Francisco over the past eight years, there’s no way he’ll leave the Bay Area now.
There are plenty of teams out there that could use a big, consistent left-handed starter, especially one who will no doubt go down as one of the top ten, perhaps even top five greatest post-season pitchers in baseball history.
However, San Francisco can be a very loyal organization and after all that he’s given them, they’ll do whatever it takes to bring him back.
The team may not be as good as they were for those three World Series victories that he was a vital piece of but they still have the ability to get back to the post-season. With Bumgarner leading the charge, anything can happen for there. Look for MadBum to be a San Francisco Giant for the remainder of his career.
4 Jump ship – Manny Machado
For years now, Manny Machado has displayed defense that is matched by few in the Major Leagues. His bat has come along too, making him one of the best all-around players in the game today. Even though the Baltimore Orioles have provided him the opportunity to move back to his natural position at Shortstop, there isn’t a future of winning in Baltimore. The team may decide to trade him this year because if not, he’s leaving the Orioles.
All 29 other teams would love to have a guy as diverse and talented as Machado on their team, but unfortunately, not all of them could afford him. Assuming he wants out of the AL East (because it’s unlikely that either New York or Boston would take him, given how much they are paying their current stars. Both have good shortstops, and Tampa and Toronto offer less winning chance than Baltimore), it’s going to be interesting to see where he lands. Teams like The Angels, Dodgers, Rangers and many more will no doubt be in play for Machado. Either way, he knows how to carry a team, so whoever gets his signature will definitely be a World Series contender for years to come.
3 Re-sign – Francisco Lindor
Baseball is a sport that involves plenty of money and it is a career for so many players in the world but at the end of the day, these young men are getting paid to play something that they love and have played since they were young. It’s great to see them playing for the fun and love of the game with a smile on their face and there’s no better example of that in today’s game than the Indians Shortstop Francisco Lindor.
The young star has been playing incredible ball since coming up to Cleveland. Although the team fell short against the Cubs in the 2016 World Series, Lindor showed that he was at his best when the lights were on brightest. With this team looking like a contender for years to come, there’s no way that Francisco leaves this situation.
The strength of this Indians team is their fantastic starting rotation and if they are to return to the World Series, they will need to be at their best. Going up against teams like Boston or New York in the playoffs, their great blend of youth and experience in the lineup is a key factor also. With Lindor leading the charge with his child-like smile, this team will experience plenty of success over the next few years and there’s no reason to break that up.
2 Jump ship – Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper is one of the best baseball players on the planet today (even if many fans believe that he is overrated, there is no denying the output that he’s had over the past few seasons), and the beginning of his 2018 season signals that he may be improving. It looks like the start of his best year yet, but still, if the Washington Nationals again fail to live up to all the hype and expectation that has surrounded the nation’s capital for years, they are going to lose Harper to another team.
The word going around is that Bryce wants to seek a contract in the neighborhood of 10-years, $400 million, and although that is ridiculous, he is deserving of a large contract.
With the New York Yankees finally becoming a threat again, they seem like the most likely landing spot for the star Right Fielder. Other teams like the Chicago Cubs have also been linked to Harper, especially with his friendship with Kris Bryant. However, with Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, Ian Happ and others all either on large contracts, or expecting large contracts, that may not be possible. Either way, when Bryce Harper’s contract expires, the young Phenom is going to leave Washington D.C.
1 Re-sign – Carlos Correa
A lot of the talk in the sports world these days is about "the process" in Philadelphia but people tend to forget just how bad the Houston Astros were during their long, arduous rebuilding phase. With top overall picks like Carlos Correa, they knew they had a right to be confident, and when you combined the stellar shortstop with veterans like Jose Altuve and fellow rookies like George Springer and Alex Bregman, you knew that was a recipe for success.
Correa was always the standout among the lot. The Young Puerto Rican stud is only 23 years of age but he’s already entering his 4th major league season. With all five tools at his disposal, it seems he is getting better year by year. Although they’ve got plenty of young talent they need to lock up, Correa needs to be the biggest priority for the Astros. He has the potential to be one of the best positional payers in baseball history.
During their first ever World Series victory back in 2017, the whole team contributed in what was a fantastic and thrilling series with the Dodgers but yet Correa managed to prove that he’s one of the most valuable players in the league. Although they’ll have some competition for his signature, it’s very likely that Carlos stays put.