Tag Archives: MLB Free Agency

2018 MLB Free Agency Projections

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It’s almost that time for the free agency sweepstakes around Major League Baseball. Next month’s Winter Meetings will be telling of how the off-season will go as deals will be made, but he is a look at some free agents and their potential landing spots during the off-season.

1. Eric Hosmer-First Baseman

In seven years with the Kansas City Royals, first baseman Eric Hosmer always had a nose for making the big play. In 2014, Hosmer came up big for the Royals in helping the franchise reach the postseason for the first time since 1985 as he would provide clutch hits coming down the stretch of the regular season as well as in the playoffs. And after the Royals fell one victory short of winning the World Series in 2014, Hosmer would emerge as a leader in 2015 to help Kansas City win it all.

In 2011, Hosmer finished third in the American League’s Rookie of the Year Award voting as he batted .293 with 19 home runs and 78 runs batted in. Hosmer is coming off of his best season at the plate as he hit .318 with 25 homers and 94 runs batted in. But Hosmer’s biggest contributions come courtesy of his solid glove at first base.

Hosmer is a four-time American League Gold Glove Award winner who acts as a vacuum at first base due to his ability to suck everything up. Hosmer just turned 28-years of age last month, and as he is in the prime of his Major League Baseball career, his glove, along with his leadership will be hot commodities on the free agent market over the winter.

Prediction: Boston Red Sox

2. Jake Arrieta-Starting Pitcher

Jake Arrieta

After starting pitcher Jake Arrieta spent the first six years of his Major League Baseball career as an afterthought, he made a name for himself in 2015. Arrieta enjoyed a breakout campaign by going 22-6 with a 1.77 earned run average to help the Cubs reach the National League Championship Series, and in the process he would take home the NL Cy Young Award. Arrieta would follow this up by going 18-8 with a 3.10 earned run average in 2016 to help the Cubs win the World Series.

But Arrieta would not be as effective this past season as he was 14-10 with an earned run average of 3.53. Arrieta has only thrown at least 200 innings in a season once as his durability comes into question. However with a thin market for starting pitchers over the winter, Arrieta should be able to cash in.

Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers

3. Yu Darvish-Starting Pitcher

In 2012, starting pitcher Yu Darvish bursted onto the Major League Baseball scene with a ton of hype. Darvish came to MLB as a prized free agent from Japan, and he would get his opportunity in the United States with the Texas Rangers who won a bidding war for his services. Darvish’s finest season with the Rangers came in 2013 when he went 13-9 with an earned run average of 2.83, while he struck out 277 batters. Darvish would finish second in the American League Cy Young Award balloting as the Rangers fell one victory short of qualifying for the playoffs.

Since then Darvish has been hampered by injuries which included him being forced to miss the entire 2015 Major League Baseball season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Darvish is an up and down pitcher, and he missed the opportunity to really solidify his chances of really striking it big in free agency.

This past July, Darvish was traded by the Rangers to the Los Angeles Dodgers as he was expected to help them with their postseason push. Darvish would make nine starts for the Dodgers during the regular season and he went 4-3 with an earned run average of 3.44. Darvish would help the Dodgers win the National League West, while they would reach the World Series for the first time since 1988. But in the World Series, Darvish would get rocked by the Houston Astros.

In two starts in the Fall Classic, Darvish would post an earned run average of 21.60 as he only managed to last 3.1 innings which included him not being able to get through 2 innings in Game 7.

Darvish is 31-years of age, and although that he has injury issues on his resume as well as a bad performance in the World Series, the lack of quality starting pitchers heading free agency will help his chance to earn a contract this winter.

Prediction: Texas Rangers

4. J.D. Martinez-Outfielder

After being an afterthought with the Houston Astros for three years, outfielder J.D. Martinez came into his own with the Detroit Tigers in 2014. That season Martinez would bat .315 to go along with 23 home runs and 76 runs batted in to help the Tigers win the American League Central. For Martinez’s career with the Tigers, he would hit .300 with 99 homers and 285 runs batted in.

The Tigers finished this past season tied with the San Francisco Giants for the worst record in Major League Baseball which resulted in them having a fire sale. In July, Martinez was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks and he would become vital to their push to the postseason.

In 62 games with the Diamondbacks, Martinez would bat .302 with 29 homers and 65 runs batted in to help Arizona reach the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

For the season Martinez would bat .303 with 45 home runs and 104 runs batted in as he only played in 119 games. Martinez is 30-years of age, and he picked the perfect time to get hot at the plate. However with many teams around Major League Baseball shying away from overpaying sluggers in free agency, Martinez might have a hard time finding a new team to play for in 2018.

Prediction: Arizona Diamondbacks

5. Jay Bruce-Outfielder

After outfielder Jay Bruce spent nearly nine years of his Major League Baseball career with the Cincinnati Reds, he has bounced around over the last two seasons. With the Reds in the middle of a rebuild, they traded Bruce to the New York Mets in 2016. At first Bruce was ice cold at the plate as he found himself “pressing”. However Bruce would get on track coming down the stretch as he helped the Mets secure the top wild card spot in the National League.

Bruce started this past season with the Mets as in 103 games with the club, Bruce batted .256 with 29 homers and 75 runs batted in. However the injury bug would get the Mets this past season, and once they fell out of contention, Bruce and his expiring contract became expendable. The Mets would trade Bruce to the Cleveland Indians and in 48 games with the club, he would hit 7 homers, while driving in 26 runs to help Cleveland win the American League Central for a second consecutive year.

Bruce will be 31-years of age when the 2018 Major League Baseball season rolls around, and he falls into the category of a player that can used in multiple roles. Bruce is primarily a right fielder, but he can play first base, as well as being a designated hitter for an American League club which will make the pursuit of him during the winter rather interesting.

Prediction: Los Angeles Angels

6. Wade Davis-Relief Pitcher

After Wade Davis spent the first five years of his Major League Baseball career as an up and down starting pitcher, he found his true calling in 2014 as a relief pitcher. Late in the 2015 MLB season, Davis became the full-time closer for the Kansas City Royals after an injury sidelined relief pitcher Greg Holland. Davis would save 17 games for the Royals and he came up big during the postseason as Kansas City was able to win their first World Series Title since 1985. Davis would save 27 more games for the Royals in 2016 before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs prior to the start the 2017 MLB season. With the Cubs, Davis was able to save 32 games as he helped them win the National League Central.

Wade Davis

Now Davis will hit free agency at the age of 32, while he is one of the premier closers in the game. Davis won’t get a long-term deal, but you can bank on him getting a contract within the three-to-four year window. And with the importance of a needing strong bullpen being more prevalent than ever, Davis should get paid handsomely this off-season.

Prediction: Houston Astros

7. Mike Moustaksas-Third BasemanĀ 

This list is littered with players who helped the Kansas City Royals win the World Series Championship in 2015, while also suiting up for the club this past season. And you can add another player to that list in third baseman Mike Moustakas. Moustakas was the second overall pick of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft by the Royals and he has been with the big club regularly since 2011. Moustakas struggled to begin the 2014 season which resulted in him being demoted to Triple-A, but upon returning to the Royals, he was a different player.

Moustakas batted .284 with 22 homers and 84 runs batted in during the 2015 Major League Baseball season to help the Royals win the World Series. And after an injury plagued 2016 season, Moustakas came back very strong in 2017 to have the best year of his career. Moustaskas batted .272 to go along with 38 home runs and 85 runs batted in while also earning his second All-Star Game appearance.

Moustakas 29-years of age, and although he is not a player that can carry a team, he is someone who’ll fit nicely into the middle of the lineup for a contender, while also giving them leadership as well as championship experience.

Prediction: Los Angeles Angels/San Francisco Giants

8. Neil Walker-Second Baseman

Throughout the nine-year Major League Baseball career of second baseman Neil Walker, he has been “Steady Eddie”. Walker has a career batting average of .272 to go along with averaging 20 homers and 80 runs batted in per season. And aside from being a solid hitter, Walker backs this up with a good glove in the field.

The last two years have been injury filled for Walker as he has combined to miss 98 games. And even though that Walker is 32-years of age, the fact that he can contribute to a team at the plate as well as in the field will lead to him finding a new franchise to play for this winter.

Prediction: New York Mets

9.Eduardo Nunez-Shortstop/Third Baseman

Eduardo Nunez

There are not that many quality utility players around Major League Baseball which means that when a solid one comes down the pike, he will be in demand. Infielder Eduardo Nunez has been in MLB since 2010 and he has bounced around as he has suited up for three different teams. But with Nunez’s ability to play shortstop, second base, and third base, teams will love to have his services and versatility.

Prediction: Boston Red Sox

 

10. Lorenzo Cain-Outfielder

Lorenzo Cain

Lorenzo Cain is another one of those players that was a key contributor to the success of the Kansas City Royals, but now it is time for him to hit free agency. In eight Major League Baseball seasons, Cain is a lifetime hitter who can provide a contender with leadership in the clubhouse as well as a solid glove in the outfield who can play multiple positions.

Prediction: Cleveland Indians/New York Mets

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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Boom Or Bust Time For The Yankees

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Free agency in Major League Baseball is set to begin and the next few months will be a very important stretch for all teams, but especially in regards to the New York Yankees. For the first time since the early 1990’s, the Yankees have failed to qualify for the playoffs in consecutive years. In fact the 84-win season that the Yankees are coming off of is their lowest win total in a non-strike shortened season since 1992 when they only won 76 games. New York has several holes on their team that must be addressed and it is up to Yankee owners Hal and Hank Steinbrenner along with team general manager Brian Cashman to execute a plan of attack that will get the team back to the postseason.

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Hal Steinbrenner

The Yankees payroll of $208 million last season was the second highest in MLB, but a ton of that money was given to veteran players that were mainly injured or who are past their prime. 34-year old starting pitcher CC Sabathia earned $23 million last season. But knee problems relegated him to only making a handful of starts as he was 3-4 with a 5.28 earned run average. For 2015, Sabathia is once again set to earn $23 million and the Yankees can no longer rely on him being a guy that is going to give them 200 innings every season. Last winter there was a huge bidding war for Japanese born starting pitcher Mazahiro Tanaka. The Yankees won out as they signed the Japanese phenom to a seven-year, $155 million contract. Tanaka was as good as advertised as through July 3, he was 12-3 with a 2.27 earned run average and he was in the running to win the American League Cy Young Award. But elbow problems forced Tanaka to miss two months of the season and the injury that he suffered injury smells of a potential Tommy John procedure. This past season Tanaka earned $22 million and he is set for the same number in 2015. Since hitting 39 home runs in 2011, the production of Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira has regressed. Teixeira only batted .216 with 22 homers and 62 runs batted in this past season. Teixeira is set to earn $22.5 million next season. Last off-season, the Yankees signed designated hitter Carlos Beltran to a three-year deal worth $45 million. At 37-years of age, Beltran is not the player that he once was which was evident by his career lows in batting average (.233), home runs (15), and runs batted in (49).

Then there is the case of Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 MLB season due to his multiple infractions in regards to his usage of performance enhancing drugs. Rodriguez is 39-years old and his baseball skills have greatly diminished. Rodriguez is set to earn $21 million dollars next season and for the Yankees it appears that they have “dead money” on their hands with him.

Already the Yankees have $144.6 million committed to next year’s payroll and in spite of the Steinbreener’s publicly refusing to surpass the $189 million threshold, they will give Cashman the Neiman Marcus card in order to improve this team over the winter because they want and need to return to the role of being contenders.

The Yankees have a glaring hole at shortstop as they need to replace the retired Derek Jeter. Guys like Jeter don’t come along everyday and Cashman will have his hands full in replacing him. Hanley Ramirez is the most attractive shortstop on the free-agent market. Ramirez will be 31-years of age next month and with declining defensive skills, he could be a risk for the Yankees at shortstop. There have been “internet” rumors surfacing about Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki seeking to be traded out of Denver and that rumor grew legs when he was spotted in the stands at Yankee Stadium last summer. Tulowitzki is under contract through 2021 and he is still owed $129 million. Tulowitzki has not appeared in at least 140 regular season games since 2011 and like Ramirez, the Yankees could be taking a risk in acquiring him.

The Yankees could be in the market for some more depth in the outfield and with the Baltimore Orioles recently declining to pick up the option for outfielder Nick Markakis, he makes total sense as someone that the Bronx Bombers should pursue this winter. Last season Markakis batted .276 with 14 homers and 50 runs batted in. But Markakis’ biggest contribution came on defense as he won his second Gold Glove Award in helping the Orioles win their first American League East Title since 1997. If the Yankees are willing to go after Markakis, he would join a pretty good defensive outfield in the Bronx with Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner.

But the name of the game in baseball is pitching as it is the deciding factor in winning championships. The Yanks team earned run average of 3.75 this past season was eighth in the AL and with question marks surrounding the health of Tanaka, Sabathia, and starting pitcher Ivan Nova who is coming off of Tommy John surgery , it is time for the Steinbrenners to open up their illustrious vault. This year’s crop of free agent starting pitchers will be highlighted by James Shields, Max Scherzer, and Jon Lester as the Yankees will need to sign at least one of those players. Shields will turn 33-years old next month, but he is coming off of a year in which he helped the Kansas City Royals reach the World Series for the first time since 1985. In the last eight seasons, Shields has thrown at least 200 innings in each year as he has been extremely durable. Scherzer is 30-years old and he won the AL Cy Young Award in 2013 as he went 21-3 with an earned run average of 2.90 to go along with 240 strikeouts for the Detroit Tigers. Scherzer is a power pitcher that the Yankees may go after, but Yankee Stadium historically has not been a pitcher’s park like Comerica Park is in Detroit. The Yankees are very familiar with Lester as he was a thorn in their sides during the last nine seasons with the Boston Red Sox. In nine seasons in MLB, Lester is 116-67 and he knows how to get it done it October as he helped the Sox win a pair of World Series Championships.

More than ever the time is now for the Yankees to strike as the American League East in 2015 could be there for the taking. Like the Yankees, the big-market Red Sox missed the playoffs this past season and they have already begun the process of re-tooling. After winning the AL East this past season, the Orioles have some key players that need to be re-signed and it still is not clear whether or not that they will be able to keep their team in tact. The Toronto Blue Jays still have a ton of questions in regards to their starting pitching rotation while the departure of manager Joe Maddon from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Chicago Cubs sent shock waves around Major League Baseball as he appeared to be the glue that kept Tampa Bays together as far as being a very formidable foe. The opportunity is there for the Yankees front office to make big things happen this winter.

Sources: Baseball-reference.com, Baseballprospectus.com

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Jon Lester Could Have The Upper Hand On The Red Sox

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Jon Lester

Jon Lester

After winning 97 games in the 2013 Major League Baseball regular season, the Boston Red Sox would go on to win their eighth World Series Championship in franchise history. This season hasn’t been as smooth for the Red Sox as they are currently have a record of 36-44. The Red Sox are currently in fourth place in the American League East as they’re eight games behind the first place Toronto Blue Jays. Barring a turnaround over the summer the Red Sox are staring down the barrel of their second losing campaign in the past three seasons and they would also be the second consecutive defending World Series Champion to have a losing season. Surprisingly one man that could benefit from the problems in Boston this season is starting pitcher Jon Lester.

Lester is in his ninth MLB season (all with the Red Sox) and he is set to be an unrestricted free agent this winter. In spring training the Red Sox and Lester attempted to negotiate a contract extension, but with both sides far apart on the finances they walked away from the table. Lester and his agent John Yates are not expected to negotiate with the Red Sox for the remainder of the regular season which will allow Lester’s value to potentially increase heading into the winter. By the time that the 2015 Major League Baseball season rolls around Lester will be 31-years of age and like the other 29 MLB teams, the Red Sox should be wary of offering Lester a long-term deal. But will they do it?

This season Lester is leading the Red Sox pitching staff in wins (8), earned run average (3.14), and strikeouts (109). Lester’s 3.14 earned run average is the lowest of his career and he is also on pace to throw 200 innings for the sixth time in the past seven seasons. Regardless of how this season will pan out for the Red Sox they could face some competition in order to retain Lester in the off-season.

Lester is making $13 million this season and he and Yates know that the pending free-agent market for left-handed starting pitchers is a slim one. Lester won’t be the highest sought after pitcher this off-season as that distinction will fall upon Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer. But more than likely Lester is going to want a six-year deal in the range of $120 million and he’ll get it and more if pitching is at a premium.

Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Unlike his predecessor Theo Epstein, current Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington plays it closer to the chest in negotiating with pending free agents. But the strategy has already hurt him.

After seven seasons with the Red Sox, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury hit free agency last winter. Ellsbury is represented by super agent Scott Boras who is infamous for having “mystery teams” that want the services of his clients. Cherington chose not to get into a bidding war for Ellsbury who would go on to sign a seven-year, $153 million with the New York Yankees.

This season the Red Sox have the second oldest team in MLB and if Cherington’s track record is any indication, he could be willing to allow Lester to leave Boston.

In recent years we have seen teams suffer after giving players over the age of 30 long-term deals. The Los Angeles Angels have found this out the hard way over the past few seasons with the lucrative deals that they handed out to first baseman Albert Pujols and outfielder Josh Hamilton respectively. In Epstein’s last season with the Red Sox, he signed outfielder Carl Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million deal. Crawford was coming off of a career year with the Tampa Bay Rays and he would turn 30 midway through his first season with the Red Sox as he never lived up to the hype before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012.

Since 2000, the Red Sox have been one of the best MLB franchises as far as drafting and developing their players which is why they have won more World Series Titles (3) than any other Major League Baseball team over that span. The Red Sox will need to be revamped in the outfield and at shortstop in the off-season. And with those glaring needs I doubt that Cherington will go all out in the effort to retain the services of Lester which means that following the 2014 World Series, the bidding war will begin for his services.

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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