While the top teams in the league are focused on the postseason, the rest of Major League Baseball is looking toward the future for players who can turn around fortunes next year.

Unlike the past few years, the 2017 free-agent class lacks many high-profile names who are going to steal headlines for the next few months. Yoenis Cespedes would be the top player available if he chooses to opt out of his current contract, but there is no guarantee of that. Beyond that, the players looking to cash in all have some sort of question marks.

With this in mind, here is a look at some of the biggest stars set to become free agents at the end of the 2016 season.


Wilson Ramos, C

This will be one of the biggest storylines in free agency.

Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was in the midst of his best year as a professional, hitting .307 with 22 home runs and 80 RBI, all of which were career highs.

Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com predicted a multiyear deal with a $12 million annual salary this offseason, with the Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros, New York Mets and Atlanta Braves all considered possibilities.

According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Ramos had reportedly declined a three-year, $30 million contract earlier this month.

However, everything changed when the catcher went down with a torn ACL.

While there will certainly be interest for the talented player on the open market, the price is going to significantly drop as teams take the risk that Ramos never reaches his previous form.

The 29-year-old player recently discussed his time with the Nationals and the possibility of returning next season, per Castillo:

I feel happy, very proud of the opportunities they’ve given me. My career grew in this organization and I would like to stay here for a lot of years. Unfortunately, this happened with my knee and it’s very difficult at my position to be in the National League, but I’d really like to be here for a lot of years. I hope to get out of the operation fine and get back very strong to stay here with this team.

Moving to the American League would provide Ramos a chance to spend time as a designated hitter, something unavailable with the Nationals (with the exception of a few interleague games each year).

This will limit the opportunities for the catcher, although it will give him a chance to extend his career as long as possible. The AL teams will then dictate the market once the extent of the injury is revealed.

Predicted destination: Chicago White Sox


Ian Desmond, OF

Free agency came at the wrong time for Ian Desmond a year ago. After three straight Silver Slugger awards as one of the premier offensive shortstops in the game, he struggled throughout 2015 and ended the season with a .233 batting average.

He ended up with a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers, although it was a chance for him to re-establish himself as a top offensive player.

Desmond has done just that in 2016, converting to an outfielder and hitting .284 with the fourth 20 home run-20 stolen base season of his career.

Although he was hitting even better in the first half of the season to earn a spot on the All-Star team, Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post noted he leveled out to his normal solid season:

These are still quality numbers and ones that will be valuable on the open market this offseason. One team that will likely have interest is the Philadelphia Phillies, who need to upgrade their offense dramatically if they want to improve for next season.

Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball listed Desmond along with Martin Prado as targets for the Phillies, with the team looking for “veterans experienced enough to positively influence their ultra-young team but young enough where they could be there when the Phillies contend.”

With Prado recently signing a three-year extension with the Miami Marlins, Desmond represents the best option to fit this category.

The 31-year-old hitter has plenty of experience in the NL East and should be a quality addition right out of the gate for Philadelphia.

Predicted destination: Philadelphia Phillies


Matt Wieters, C

Although Matt Wieters was once considered a savior for the Orioles, his time with the organization appears to be running out.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe provided the latest buzz from Baltimore:

All signs point to the Orioles cutting ties with the backstop. Wieters accepted a qualifying offer last offseason but the Orioles won’t be as generous this time. … There will be a lot of catching available in free agency and the Orioles may opt for someone cheaper than the switch-hitting Wieters. The Braves and Rays could be good fits for Wieters.

Wieters was named an All-Star this season for the fourth time in his career, although his numbers don’t generate a whole lot of excitement. He’s an above-average defensive catcher, but he isn’t worth the nearly $16 million qualifying offer he accepted to remain with the Orioles this season.

On the plus side, he has remained relatively healthy this season. He has already appeared in 121 games after being limited to just 101 in the last two years combined due to Tommy John surgery.

There should be plenty of interested teams looking for a solid defensive catcher with some pop.

Unfortunately, the Orioles will have too many other needs to fill before giving Wieters the type of long-term deal he will want.

Predicted destination: Atlanta Braves


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