Top 3 Free Agents 2023-24 — NL Central

We continue our look at the top impending free agents in baseball. Teams still have until the end of the season to sign extensions with these players to fend off their trip to the open market, but as of now, these are the names to watch for. 

We covered the NL West already; these are the top 3 free agents in the NL Central.

Marcus Stroman, Chicago Cubs

We're taking a little leap of faith here, that Stroman will opt out of his final year at $21M. For now, he's saying he wants to remain a Cub for the rest of his career. "I truly love everything about this organization," Stroman said. "Being someone who’s [going into] year 10 in the big leagues, I value that. And I love going out into the buzz at Wrigley every time I go out to pitch every fifth day."

But he is seeking an extension from the Cubs, and if they don't oblige, we know what Stroman's next action will be. "I don’t want to honestly make it to free agency," Stroman said. "But I’m also very confident in my abilities in free agency. I’ve always bet on myself."

He's having a tremendous season, with a 2.59 ERA and a league-leading 0.98 WHIP.

Jack Flaherty, St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals' former ace, he's been working his back for three years now, but seems to have recently finally turned the corner. He's suffered through a multitude of injuries, robbing him of huge chunks of the 2021 and 2022 seasons. If he can get back to the Top 5 Cy Young form he held in 2019, he'll be one of the most valuable commodities on the free agent market.

Cody Bellinger, Chicago Cubs

The former NL MVP with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bellinger signed a one-year, "prove it" contract this season with the Cubs, and he's certainly been proving it this year. He's even an early candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. The soon-to-be 28-year-old is currently on the IL with a knee injury, but should be back early this month. 

If he can pick up where he left off, he should be in for a multi-year deal this offseason. 

Photo: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports