This offseason’s top MLB free agents
With the 2017 World Series now wrapped up with the parade in Houston, the focus of the baseball world is now on free agency. Winter meetings are coming.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the top free agents this offseason. The list will be in no particular order.
The move to get JD Martinez was a big deadline deal, but not many people realized how big of an impact he would make for the Diamondbacks.
While the DBacks offense was quite good before the trade, albeit struggling a bit at the time, they were lethal after. Martinez exploded for 29 homers in just 62 games with Arizona. As a team, they hit 28 home runs in July, but 42 in both August and September with Martinez along with improvements across the board offensively.
Martinez will undoubtedly have a lot of options this offseason. He’ll be the belle of the ball for position players with many teams vying for more offense in the arms race that is the now juiced-ball era. Just watching the World Series this year has shown that offense is at an all-time high, and the best teams are loaded with really good hitters.
Martinez won’t go just anywhere, he wants to win.
“I think one of the most important things in my free agency is I want to be on a team that’s relevant, a team that’s good, a team that’s in it.” Martinez said in an interview with azcentral.com in early September.
Landing spot: Arizona Diamondbacks
While he may get better offers from other clubs, the DBacks are a young, talented team, which would fit the bill of what Martinez is looking for. Add in the fact that he played some of the best baseball of his career at Chase Field this season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him signing long-term in Arizona. Boston will likely make a big push to sign him as well.
Yu Darvish SP
The melt-downs in his two World Series performances will really hurt Darvish. Yes, he’s had a very solid career thus far, but he will command a large sum of money and was seen as a number one starter, or at the very least a high-end second starter. While his track record would suggest him to be a pitcher most contenders would love to add to their staff, his performance in the World Series was troubling. If you’re a team expecting to get to the World Series, can you trust signing him?
Make no mistake, Darvish is an excellent pitcher. The 31-year-old right-hander owns a career 3.42 ERA with over 700 more strikeouts than walks. The sample size of his World Series performances is small, two games, which give optimism that he can and will perform better given another opportunity.
A pitcher the caliber of Darvish will garner a ton of interest from teams. While the Dodgers could retain him, the World Series may have left a bad taste in their mouth. The Cardinals, Cubs, Nationals, and Twins would be the most obvious suitors.
Landing spot: St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are in a position they have not been in for years. For the second straight season, they have failed to make the postseason. Lance Lynn will likely be in another uniform next year, and their rotation could use an upgrade to face to potent offenses of the Cubs and Brewers in their division.
Jake Arrieta SP
After reinventing himself in Chicago, Arrieta will look to command a large contract that he will play out the remainder of his career on.
Arrieta first got national attention in 2015 with his MLB record performance in the second half of the season with a minuscule 0.75 ERA on his way to a Cy Young award. He regressed in 2016, which was expected because he was just that good in 2015, but he still had an excellent season with a respectable 3.52 ERA.
He has made nine starts in the postseason in his career and has been reliable for the Cubs. He has never given up more than four runs in a start and holds a 3.08 ERA over the nine starts spanning eight series. In the most important series of his career, he came up big with two starts against the Indians surrendering only three runs in 11.1 innings.
As a Scott Boras client, he will be looking for a big payday. With a few nagging injuries costing him some time the last few seasons, along with a slight dip in velocity has caused some concern. He started the 2017 campaign poorly but rebounded in the second half. Was that just fatigue from the World Series? Or is he starting to decline? Both are things owners will have to take into consideration when they decide if they should offer him that big contract he wants.
The Cubs would obviously like to retain him, but you should expect the Cardinals, Brewers, Nationals, Astros, Rangers, Dodgers, Twins as well as others to check in on him.
Landing Spot: Texas Rangers
This one would probably be a shocker but Arrieta is from Texas, and the Rangers are an interesting team with a decent collection of talent. They could easily be in the running for a wild card spot next season. With the departure of Darvish, Arrieta could step in and fill his old role.
Lance Lynn SP
Yet another pitcher on this list. You see why teams like the Yankees, Cubs, and Astros have opted for the position player heavy rebuilds. Anyways, Lynn is a dependable starter who can step in and be a solid number two or three starting pitcher for his new team.
The 30-year-old righty made 161 starts for the Cardinals during his time with the team. He has shown that when healthy, he can and will give you 30 starts a season, something very valuable in today’s MLB.
He missed all of the 2016 season because of Tommy John surgery but came back strong to the tune of 33 starts in 2017. While his ERA was decent, 3.42, it is not entirely indicative of how his season went. He had career-worst strikeout, walk and home run rates during the season.
It could be a risky signing for a team to spend big money on Lynn given his recent injury and down year, but his dependability is tantalizing. He would do best on a team where he can slot into the third rotation spot.
Landing spot: Minnesota Twins
Lynn would be behind Berrios and Santana in the Twins rotation giving them a decent 1-2-3 for if they make it to the postseason again in 2018. The Twins seem to be a starter or two and some bullpen help away from being a very good team. Lynn would help this.
Moustakas is coming off of a huge season for the Royals in which he hit .272 with 38 home runs and 85 RBIs, although he struggled to get on base at times due to his low walk rate. None the less, this was his best season of his career, and he broke his previous record of 22 home runs in 2015.
He will make an instant impact offensively on whichever team he signs with. Several teams could be interested in him if the Royals fail to re-sign him: Angels, Braves, Red Sox, Giants, and Cardinals all may be in on him.
Moustakas was part of the core of the Royals team that won the World Series in 2015 and is 29 years old. He still has several years a hard of him and is likely looking for a multiple year deal. Expect the Royals to make a big push to sign him.
Landing Spot: Boston Red Sox
Yes, Raphael Devers is the future at third base for the Red Sox, but they need power in their lineup. They hit 168 home runs last season, which ranked them at 27th. Moustakas would instantly help that situation. He could be moved to first base in the future once Devers is up, or could become a DH.