It’s been a little over a month since the 2018 season ended, and while the stoves at home may be revving up for the holidays, the stove for transactions in Major League Baseball has been initially very cold. Frankly, it’s to be expected, because the winter meetings don’t start until December, and that’s usually when moves start happening pretty rapidly. However, that doesn’t stop fans from speculating while the General Managers are deliberating, so why not make a list of predictions for the top thirty free agents on the market.
Whether you want to put Harper at the top of this list or Manny Machado, they’re pretty much interchangeable as far as contracts go. Both will command roughly 30 million dollars a year, if not more. Harper had a rough first half but contributed to a sub-par Nationals team in the second half. While his entire 2018 season wasn’t phenomenal, it still lands as one of his best. He’s only twenty-six years old, he’s just entering his prime, and we probably haven’t even seen the best of him yet.
Prediction: 9 yrs/300 million. The Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies are nearly done with a rebuild, and nearly made the playoffs last season without a late-season crumble, and it looks like they’re one or two pieces away from battling the Braves for a division title. Signing Bryce Harper could be the push over the edge they need.
Much of the same can be said for Machado as was said about Harper except the key to Machado is consistency. While Harper has had injuries that he’s dealt with, he’s finished four out of his first seven seasons with 139 games played or less. Machado has played all but two seasons, in his first seven seasons, of 155 games or more. The tale of the tape can also be said about postseason stats. Neither has been very good when it’s mattered most, and it has to come into play in the decision to sign a player to such a lucrative contract.
Prediction: 8 yrs/302 million. The New York Yankees.
Let’s face it. As much as we don’t like it, the Yankees always have money and will spend it when needed, and they need a more consistent player in their lineup when it comes to getting on base. Machado would fit right in with the evil empire.
Corbin turned in his most dominant season last year pitching 33 games with an ERA of 3.15, hurling 200 innings, the second time in his career he has reached that mark. If not for Jacob DeGrom, he might’ve been a favorite for the CY Young award. Easily the best starting pitcher on the market, and being a lefty, he will command a heavy sum to whoever wants his services come 2019.
Prediction: 6 yrs/162 million. The Philadelphia Phillies.
A young club, needing another star pitcher to go along with Jake Arrieta and Aaron Nola, he’d be the perfect piece to make a three-headed monster. The Phils could look very dangerous come 2019
Keuchel turned in a decent season in 2018, overcoming a dreadful first half, where he struggled in the majority of the first innings of games. Keuchel bounced back to the tune of a 3.74 ERA and pitched at least 200 innings for the third time in his career. With injury issues in past years, you wondered at times if Keuchel would ever get back to his CY Young year of 2015. He is still the best groundball pitcher in all of baseball. He’s the king of weak contact and allowed the fewest hits in the majors in 2018.
Prediction: 6 yrs/144 million. The Chicago Cubs.
With Jon Lester only getting older, and Yu Darvish’s status unknown for 2019, and his recent struggles, the Cubs need consistency and a proven veteran on their staff. Their window seems to be closing every so slightly, so maybe Keuchel can give them the shot in the arm they need.
The man can play anywhere in the infield and outfield apart from catcher and pitching and a gold glove caliber levels. He can hit for power, he has speed, he’s the most versatile player in the major leagues at the moment, and every team wants him to be wearing their jersey. In what was sort of a down year in 2018, he hit .247 but still hit sixteen homers. For a utility player who values to that of Ben Zobrist who received four years, fifty-six million, from the Chicago Cubs in 2015. Except Marwin Gonzalez is younger, and better.
Prediction: 4 yrs/64 million. The Los Angeles Dodgers.
With Manny Machado not re-signing, the Dodgers will be okay next season when Corey Seager comes back from a season-ending injury. However, with Chase Utley retiring, there’s a utility spot opening on the infield, and whom better to take over than the man of many positions.
6.Yasmani Grandal: While he is the best catcher currently on the market, it is a very thin market. The consistently below average hitter does have a decent amount of pop. He’s hit 20+ home runs for the past three seasons, which is somewhat of a rarity to find in a catcher. Fielding wise, he owns a career .994 fielding percentage, making him an asset. However, a second glance at his caught stealing rate in 2018 at 28% might make you rethink that.
Prediction: 3 yrs/42 million. The Houston Astros.
With the loss of Brian McCann and Martin Maldonado, the Astros current catcher situation is Max Stassi and Garrett Stubbs, a rookie who hasn’t even debuted yet. While Stubbs might be the future at the position, there is clearly a hole behind the dish. They could trade for J.T. Realmuto, but they’d probably have to give up either Forrest Whitley or Kyle Tucker, which they aren’t too keen on doing, evidenced by past trades.
7. Craig Kimbrel:
In 2018 Kimbrel passed the forty save mark for the first time since 2014, and for the fifth time in his nine-year career. With an ERA of 2.74, Kimbrel still clocks up his fastball around the high 90’s to 100. He still stands like a crane before every pitch, and he’s still one of the most dominant closers of this era of baseball. Making a Hall of Fame case with each passing season, he is a free agent for the second time in his ever-growing illustrious career, and he will once again command a large contract as a free agent. Look at the Aroldis Chapman contract as the most recent evidence of how much he could get. One shouldn’t think he’ll get as much as Chapman, but he’ll be close.
Prediction: 4 yrs/ 66 million. The Atlanta Braves.
I smell a reunion coming this offseason. The Braves were a good team in 2018, and what better way to cap off the rebuild than by adding the man who spent the first five years of his career in Atlanta.
Eovaldi is a hard-throwing righty that regularly touches 100. His cutter will tear you up at the plate, and his command is ridiculous. He was a hero for Boston in 2018 coming over from the Rays midseason. Is his tremendous half season, and monstrous postseason performance enough to garner him a large contract? I think if you’re searching for a starter, Eovaldi is a guy to take a chance on. He’s always had the stuff, he just had to put it together, and in Boston, he put it together.
Prediction: 3 yrs/ 45 million. The Houston Astros.
The Astros are going into next season without potentially three out of their main five from 2018. Lance McCullers had Tommy John surgery that will keep him out for over a year, and Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel are free agents and could be headed elsewhere. A move is needed, and why not sign the hometown flame-throwing stud and pry him away from the team that bested you in the American League Championship Series.
He’s thirty-eight years old, but he still mashes. He’s hit thirty-five home runs for the past four seasons, and he doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of losing his pop. He doesn’t play the field much anymore, so he’d be the best fit to sign with an American League club, but there are no shortages of teams that need a powerful righty in the middle of their order.
Prediction: 2 yrs/ 26 million. The Houston Astros.
He won’t command anywhere near a twenty-million-dollar contract, and he won’t command a lengthy contract, as his age creeps up to him. This veteran will probably receive somewhere in between ten and fifteen million at most. Houston needs some power in their lineup after a significant drop off in 2018. Josh Reddick, Marwin Gonzalez, Yuli Gurriel, and even Jose Altuve, showed signs of regression in the home run department. What team is a better fit, and how many other teams can give Nelson a true shot at a championship as his career winds down?
He’s still twenty-nine years old and is probably the second best closer on the market behind Kimbrel. In the past four years, he’s only posted an ERA higher than 3.15 one time, and it was in 2017; a season in which he only pitched twenty-six innings. He’s consistently good and will probably command somewhere below what Craig Kimbrel does.
Prediction: 5 yrs/ 75 million. The Boston Red Sox.
The Red-Sox will sign a closer this offseason, but it will not be Craig Kimbrel. They’re set to lose two to three major pitching assets from their championship team, however, don’t expect those spots to remain empty, and the sox to do nothing regarding the players leaving. Their window is still open, and Dave Dombrowski doesn’t seem content with one title.
**All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com**