Next year’s top MLB free agents in a class that’s getting worse

While some of the biggest free agents in this offseason remain available — Bryce Harper, Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel, to name three — other high-profile players who were expected to hit the market after this year have already been locked up.

Potential Yankees target Nolan Arenado is one of them, as the Colorado third baseman agreed to an eight-year, $260 million deal to stay with the Rockies, just days after Aaron Hicks inked a seven-year, $70 million extension to remain with the Yankees.

Two other potential free agents, Didi Gregorius and Dellin Betances, also may choose to stay in The Bronx.

So where does that leave next year’s free agency? Here’s a look at who is still headed for the open market, at least for now (excluding players who have opt-outs in their contracts):

Starting pitchers

Gerrit Cole, RHP

Cole was traded from Pittsburgh to Houston prior to last season, after some interest from the Yankees, and didn’t disappoint in his new home. He shook off two straight subpar seasons and was an All-Star for a second time. Cole will turn 29 in September.

Chris Sale, LHP

Sale is entering his third season in Boston, where he has cemented his status as perhaps the best lefty in the game, although he has dealt with some shoulder issues that no doubt will be closely monitored this season. He turns 30 in March.

Justin Verlander, RHP

Verlander is 36, but he has shown no signs of slowing down since he arrived in Houston from Detroit during the latter part of the 2017 season. Perhaps his age will scare off some teams, but he has proven his value to the Astros.

Madison Bumgarner, LHP

The three-time World Series champ has fallen off the last two seasons, but he won’t be 30 until August and is one of the best big-game pitchers around.

Zack Wheeler, RHP

Wheeler finally showed the Mets what they were looking for last season. If he repeats that performance, he figures to score big in the offseason. He turns 29 in May.

Rick Porcello, RHP

Another player the Red Sox figure to be forced to make a decision on. The 30-year-old has become a significant part of Boston’s rotation that won a title last year.

Relief pitchers

Will Harris, RHP

Harris has pitched well out of the Astros’ bullpen for the last four years, but he’ll be 35 in August.

Position players

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

Goldschmidt, who turns 32 in September, was traded from Arizona to St. Louis this offseason, and many believe he’ll be such a good fit with the Cardinals, he may agree to a deal before becoming a free agent.

Anthony Rendon, 3B

With Arenado opting to stay with the Rockies, Rendon emerges as the top third-base option for next season. He might not match Arenado’s offensive production, but Rendon, who will be 29 this season, has been among the most consistent hitters when healthy over the last five seasons.

Xander Bogaerts, SS

Bogaerts is just 25 and coming off his best season. The Red Sox will have to decide who they can afford to keep, with several other players also possibly headed toward huge paydays.

Marcell Ozuna, OF

Ozuna, who turns 28 in November, was part of the sell-off in Miami following the 2017 season, when he had a breakout year. His numbers fell off in St. Louis last year, so he has a lot riding on 2019.

Josh Donaldson, 3B

Donaldson signed a one-year, $23 million deal with the Braves after injuries limited him to just 52 games in 2018. If he stays healthy and picks up where he’d been for most of his career in Toronto, the 33-year-old would be very much sought after.

Scooter Gennett, 2B

The 28-year-old has had back-to-back stellar years at the plate in Cincinnati.

Yasiel Puig, OF

The enigmatic outfielder has shown flashes of brilliance in his career, but the Dodgers chose to trade him to Cincinnati, where Puig, 28, will look to find consistency.

Khris Davis, OF/DH

Davis has hit 40-plus homers in each of the last three seasons. Those numbers don’t always mean what they used to in free agency. He will be 32 next season.

Nicholas Castellanos, OF/DH

Like Davis, Castellanos is more of a DH than anything else, but he’s hit well in Detroit the past three years and is only 26.

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