MLB free agency is officially underway

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As Saturday turned to Sunday last night, MLB’s free agency period officially kicked off.

It’s hot stove season and we’ll be digging up and dissecting rumors all winter long here on Hardball Talk.

In the meantime, HBT’s own Matthew Pouliot has ranked this offseason’s Top 111 Free Agents.  A refresher:

111-91
90-71
70-51
50-31
30-11

And here’s the Top 10 with Rangers ace Cliff Lee leading the pack.  He turned in a gorgeous 3.18 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 28 starts this season, striking out 185 batters in 212.1 innings and walking only 18.  The Yankees are almost certain to try for him and Texas will try desperately to keep him.  The Red Sox may get involved, too.

Carl Crawford is another impressive name on the free agent market this winter.  He has speed, a great defensive glove, a fantastic swing built to make contact and even a little pop.  The 29-year-old finished with a .307/.356/.495 batting line and 19 home runs over 154 games this year and is expected to draw interest from the Red Sox, Angels and other big spenders.

Max Scherzer reaches 300 strikeouts on the season

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Nationals ace Max Scherzer struck out his 300th batter of the season on Tuesday night against the Marlins. Austin Dean was the victim, swinging and missing at a 3-2 curve for the second out in the seventh inning.

Scherzer’s 2018 is the seventh 300-strikeout season since 2000. The others: Chris Sale (308; 2017 Red Sox), Clayton Kershaw (301; 2015 Dodgers), Randy Johnson (334; 2002 Diamondbacks), Curt Schilling (316; 2002 Diamondbacks), Randy Johnson (372; 2001 Diamondbacks), Randy Johnson (347; 2000 Diamondbacks). It’s the 67th 300-strikeout season dating back to 1883.

At the conclusion of the seventh, Scherzer had held the Marlins to a run on four hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts. He entered the start 17-7 with a 2.57 ERA across 213 2/3 innings. Jacob deGrom will almost certainly win the NL Cy Young Award, but Scherzer’s 2018 has been outstanding.