Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
Putting Bryant on this list is one of the riskiest calls based off the 2018 he just had and the fact that he’s currently slated to hit free agency at the age of 30. His prior track record is sparkling enough to withstand one tough year that was slowed by a shoulder injury, though.
The third baseman already has an NL Rookie of the Year Award, two All-Star Game appearances, an NL MVP, and of course, a World Series title to his name since debuting in 2015. Despite not displaying his typical power last year (13 homers and .188 ISO in 457 plate appearances), he still managed to produce a 125 wRC+ and 2.3 fWAR.
While he missed 60 games in ’18, Bryant’s 23.1 total fWAR since the start of 2015 is the best among all third baseman. He’s also only three months younger than Nolan Arenado, who just cashed in on a huge payday from the Colorado Rockies. Bryant still has some time before hitting the open market, but 2019 will be crucial to how the rest of his tenure with the Cubs goes.
Can he bounce right back and prove he’s still worthy of such a huge financial commitment? His 1.160 OPS through 17 spring-training at-bats tells us that will probably be the case. A key for the soon-to-be 28-year-old is his quality of contact. After posting hard-hit rates of 37.5% and 40.3% in his first two big-league seasons, that number decreased to 32.8% and 31.2% in the last two.