MLB Free Agent Rankings: J.D. Martinez driving the ball and his value

Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall joins Baseball Central to discuss the immense impact of J.D. Martinez since the trade and Paul Goldschmidt quietly going about his MVP-type business every year.

The 2018 free agent class has been the focus of much attention for some time now. With a crop of players that includes Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson, it justly deserves the hype.

However, lost in all the anticipation is that this year’s list of free agent hitters is pretty strong in its own right. You could make the case that adding J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer or Justin Upton to a team’s lineup today would provide just as much impact as the aforementioned players.

Here’s a look at our latest 2017 free-agent rankings, based on the total contractual earnings a player stands to make this off-season.

Past FA Rankings: April | May | June | August

10. LANCE LYNN

2017 Salary: $7.5 million
Age: 30
Position: Starting pitcher
Throws: Right
2.94 ERA | 171.2 innings | 139 strikeouts | 68 walks | 91.7 mph average fastball
  Previous ranking: Not ranked

Why teams will want him: Lynn missed all of 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but returned to his regular, workhorse self this campaign. He’s averaged 186 innings over his five full MLB seasons and is the type of pitcher who could slot nicely into the middle of a contender’s rotation.
The latest: The right-hander has boosted his value in recent weeks while helping the Cardinals stay in the NL Central conversation. Over his past three starts, Lynn has surrendered just three runs on 13 hits over 21 frames, holding opponents to a .183 batting average.

9. WADE DAVIS

2017 Salary: $10 million
Age: 32
Position: Closer
Throws: Right
2.19 ERA | 49.1 innings | 63 strikeouts | 27 walks | 94.3 mph average fastball
  Previous ranking: No. 9

Why teams will want him: Davis is the premier closer on the free agent market and can add a definite fear factor to the back end of any club’s bullpen.
The latest: Sure, the right-hander’s walk rate is up considerably this season, but he’s a perfect 29-for-29 in save chances. Not much to dislike here.

8. LORENZO CAIN

2017 Salary: $11 million
Age: 31
Position: Centre field
Bats: Right
14 HR | .300/.361/.446 | 3.7 WAR
  Previous ranking: No. 8

Why teams will want him: He’s not a household name, but Cain is a dynamic outfielder who can harm opposing teams with speed, defence and his bat.
The latest: Cain’s timing has been impeccable. The 31-year-old has batted .376 with a .925 OPS since Aug. 3 as he approaches his first opportunity to test free agency.

7. MIKE MOUSTAKAS

2017 Salary: $8,700,000
Age: 29
Position: Third base
Bats: Left
36 HR | .277/.319/.538 | 2.3 WAR
 Previous ranking: No. 6

Why teams will want him: A good defensive third baseman, Moustakas has tapped into a whole different level of power during his spectacular walk year. As an added bonus, he offers strong leadership qualities that will play well in any clubhouse.
The latest: Moustakas has a career high 36 homers, but his power surge has cooled considerably in recent days as he’s battled through injuries. The slugger has just one long ball in his past 22 games (72 at-bats).

6. JUSTIN UPTON

2017 Salary: $22,125,000
Age: 30
Position: Left field
Bats: Right
28 HR | .280/.367/.531 | 4.3 WAR
  Previous ranking: 7

Why teams will want him: Upton’s 4.3 wins above replacement make him one of the best outfielders in the game this season. Of course, the slugger will need to opt out of the remaining four years and $88.5 million on his contract to become a free agent at season’s end.
The latest: He has continued to rake since an Aug. 31 trade to the Angels and could have the chance to build on that success if his new team reaches the wild card game.

5. MASAHIRO TANAKA

2017 Salary: $22 million
Age: 28
Position: Starting pitcher
Throws: Right
4.82 ERA | 158.2 innings | 165 strikeouts | 36 walks | 92.2 mph average fastball
  Previous ranking: No. 5

Why teams will want him: Tanaka had a 6.55 ERA on June 6 but has been significantly better in the second half, looking more like the pitcher we’ve seen in past seasons.
The latest: The right-hander is another opt-out candidate and given the high demand for quality starting pitching, he might be able to fetch more than the three years and $67 million left on his current deal.

4. JAKE ARRIETA

2017 Salary: $15,637,500
Age: 31
Position: Starting pitcher
Throws: Right
3.48 ERA | 160.1 innings | 157 strikeouts | 53 walks | 92.1 mph average fastball
  Previous ranking: No. 4

Why teams will want him: Arrieta spent the summer meticulously rebuilding his value following a wretched start to the season. A sparkling 1.98 ERA over his past 10 starts has likely put him back within striking distance of a massive deal.
The latest: The right-hander has been sidelined, with no return date, since suffering a hamstring injury during his Sept. 4 outing. It’s bad timing for the Cubs, who are hanging onto a slim lead in the NL Central.

3. ERIC HOSMER

2017 Salary: $12,250,000
Age: 27
Position: First base
Bats: Left
24 HR | .328/.393/.516 | 4.1 WAR
  Previous ranking: No. 3

Why teams will want him: By most measures, this stands out as the greatest offensive season of Hosmer’s career. That says something. He’s an elite first baseman and will be just 28 years old by opening day next year.
The latest: Since May 1, Hosmer’s weighted runs created (wRC) trails only Jose Altuve, Giancarlo Stanton, Charlie Blackmon and Joey Votto.

2. J.D. MARTINEZ

2017 Salary: $11,750,000
Age: 30
Position: Right field
Bats: Right
37 HR | .294/.371/.666 | 2.9 WAR
  Previous ranking: No. 2

Why teams will want him: Martinez is a truly dominant power hitter. The chance to insert him into the middle of a batting order will have plenty of teams drooling come November.
The latest: The slugger catapulted his name even further into public consciousness when he launched four home runs against the Dodgers on Sept. 4. Martinez is open to staying in the desert, recently telling azcentral sports, “It’s definitely something I’d love, I’d be interested in. I’ve loved my time here. The guys are great. The team is young. They’re definitely going to be good for a while.”

1. YU DARVISH

2017 Salary: $11 million
Age: 31
Position: Starting pitcher
Throws: Right
4.25 ERA | 167.1 innings | 188 strikeouts | 57 walks | 94.2 mph average fastball
  Previous ranking: 1

Why teams will want him: Never mind his slow start with the Dodgers, Darvish is a game-changing, strikeout machine and will be paid accordingly this winter.
The latest: About that slow start … In three outings since returning from a minor back injury, the right-hander has allowed 13 runs and 19 hits across 12.1 innings. Darvish, and the skidding Dodgers, will be under intense pressure to perform in the playoffs.

BONUS: BLUE JAYS FREE AGENT TO WATCH

Jose Bautista
2017 Salary: $18.5 million
Age: 36
Position: Right field
Bats: Right
22 HR | .210/.316/.384 | 0.1 WAR

Why teams will want him: At this point, the ‘why’ remains unclear (as long as we’re looking at 2017 production). Bautista’s 151 strikeouts are by far a career high and his .701 OPS is the worst he’s ever posted in a full season. He’ll be 37 next year, further muddling the outlook for the Blue Jays icon.
The latest: Bautista has mutual options for 2018 and ’19, which are unlikely to be picked up by Toronto. If that’s true, Blue Jays fans have just eight remaining games to see Bautista in home colours at Roger Centre.

Other Blue Jays free agents

• Marco Estrada, SP
• Darwin Barney, UTIL

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.