Following a year that was heavily impacted and disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, fans of baseball would have been overjoyed to see the 2021 MLB season return to relative normality. As proceedings began in April, fans would have been optimistically placing bets on their side to make it through the regular season, and hopefully beyond to World Series glory. Of course, only 10 teams make it to the playoffs, so anyone betting on the likes of the Texas Rangers, the Colorado Rockies or the Baltimore Orioles would have been sorely disappointed.
It is the postseason where betting on baseball truly does become interesting. The games come thick and fast, so keeping up to date with MLB odds can be tricky, but incredibly rewarding if you bet smartly. One of the usual betting favorites, the New York Yankees, didn’t make it beyond the American League Wild Card Series, whilst the Tampa Bay Rays, who made it to the World Series in 2020, fell at the Division Series stage, losing out to the Boston Red Sox 3-1.
Many would have thought that the Red Sox would be the oddsmakers’ favorites in the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, as the Red Sox were crowned World Series champions in 2013 and 2018. However, upsetting many of the odds, it was the Astros who prevailed, making it to the Fall Classic.
On the National League side, the 2020 champion LA Dodgers had to make it through the Wild Card game, beating the St Louis Cardinals, before coming up against the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers had favorable odds in this matchup, and made it through to the League Championship Series, winning 3-2.
The Dodgers would have had strong odds against the Atlanta Braves, but those who bet on them would have been disappointed with the outcome, as the Braves made it through to the World Series, winning 4-2. It set up a tantalising clash with the Astros, with many oddsmakers split on who they thought was the favorite. In the end, it was the Braves who came out on top, winning the series 4-2, to lift their first title since 1995.
While the people of Atlanta and the Braves players & coaching staff would have been celebrating widely, for the other teams, attention switched to their rosters, about who they were going to keep, and who they were going to let go. That means that many players’ contracts were allowed to expire, making them free agents.
Not all of these players have been signed up as it stands, so let’s look at some of the biggest names who are still currently free agents.
Despite making it to the World Series with the Astros, backstop Carlos Correa has run down his contract, after he revealed that the contract negotiations never really seemed to go anywhere, with the Puerto Rican resigned to the fact that 2021 would be his last year in Houston.
Given that he has spent his entire career with the Astros, it was a surprise to see an agreement was not reached. Correa had a great season in 2021, winning the Platinum Glove award and being selected for the All-Star team. It appears the Detroit Tigers are the favorites to sign him, currently with odds of +150.
Freeman played a key role in the Braves winning the World Series, including hitting a home run that traveled 460 feet during game 5. He also won his 3rd consecutive Silver Slugger award, so evidently is an important player. However, like Correa, the first baseman felt his demands were not being met, and has declined Atlanta’s offer to renew his contract.
Some feel that his mind could be changed, and he will end up re-signing with the Braves, but if he doesn’t the most likely destination appears to be Fenway Park, with the Red Sox +250 to pick him up.
Considered to be one of the top 5 MLB utility players, Kris Bryant had been with the Chicago Cubs since he was drafted by them in the 2015 season. He was named as rookie of the year in his first campaign, and helped the Cubs to win the 2016 World Series, where he was also named as the National League’s MVP. Following 7 years, he then left the Cubs to join the San Francisco Giants.
It was only a short term contract with the Giants, which expired at the end of the season, leaving the third baseman without a team for the 2022 campaign. This situation will surely not last for long, and some of the teams being mentioned in the betting odds are the New York Mets and the Oakland Athletics. It will be worth monitoring the sportsbooks, to see where Bryant ends up next year.