Major League Baseball's offseason has been on pause for more than a month and a half now, ever since the 30 club owners voted unanimously to lock out the players and commence with the league's first work stoppage since 1994-95. When the lockout ends — that is, when both the owners and MLB's Players Association have ratified a new Collective Bargaining Agreement — the league will have to find quick resolutions for the rest of its offseason business, including a trade market that never kicked into gear and a free-agent market that still has several top players remaining on it.
It's a given that the longer front offices have to play red team, blue team on a player, the more likely they are to identify flaws with that player. Sometimes, those findings prove beneficial to their final analysis; sometimes, it comes across as overthinking things. Whatever the case, we decided we'd play along by highlighting a potential sticking point with the 10 best free agents remaining on our offseason top-50 list.
Before we get to the exercise, we're legally obligated to include some caveats. Foremost, the 10 players covered below are very good at baseball; observing a flaw in their game is neither an attempt to minimize that fact, nor an attempt to suggest they don't deserve the contracts we believe they'll sign in the coming weeks. Additionally, we'll note that in certain cases, this exercise can bolster the perception of a player when their supposed "big flaw" is a trifling matter that doesn't change much.
To recap: these are all high-quality players, and the blemishes we're covering here are largely small beans. Got it? Good, now let's get to the meat of our skeptic's guide.
1. Carlos Correa (No. 1 on top 50 list)
The fault line: The Astros' cheating scandal
For as skilled as Correa is (and, clearly, he's skilled enough to rank No. 1 on our offseason list), it's hard to write about him without referencing the Astros' sign-stealing scheme. Tony Adams' independent research revealed that Correa was one of the Houston hitters who was most likely to receive a knowing "bang" during their at-bats in 2017. How much Correa (or any other Astro) benefitted from the tip-off remains unknowable. What is certain is that Correa was a good player back when the Astros' used trash cans only for garbage. He was the No. 1 pick back in his day, and he's had big seasons before and after the scandal's supposed duration. Besides, for better or (likely) worse, the rest of the league seems apathetic to the whole situation; hence George Springer signing a lucrative free-agent contract last winter, and hence the quick returns to dugouts made by AJ Hinch and Alex Cora.
2. Kris Bryant (No. 3 on top 50 list)
The fault line: Swing concerns
You would think that Bryant, a four-time All-Star and a career .278/.376/.504 hitter, would be inoculated from mechanical nitpicks by now. You would be wrong. Bryant's sin is that he's 6-foot-5 and he has the long arms to prove it. Those levers are a potential problem because they often result in a lengthier swing, which in turn could make him susceptible to velocity as his bat speed declines.