Today is day 1 of free agency. Teams are now allowed to talk to all players not under contract for the upcoming season. The window to talk to just your teams unsigned free agents is now over. This 2018-2019 class has been talked about for a few years now as some real heavy hitters leading the top of the class. Even the casual fans are familiar with Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Now is a fun time for journalists every where to make their predictions on who goes where. In all likelihood we'll be 90% wrong, but none-the-less it's fun to make fun educated guesses. Let's just jump straight into the guesses. We have a lot to get through.
1) SS/3B Manny Machado: Philadelphia Phillies
There's been a lot of talk of Machado to the Yankees during the season. While I understand that Yankees have the money to buy Jupiter if they really wanted to, I just don't see GM Brian Cashman pulling the trigger on Machado. They have a talented group of players. While SS Didi Gregorious is going to be out for next season they could easily slide over Gleybor Torres who is a SS by trade and coming off a very solid rookie campaign in 2018. Phillies have a nice group of young talent. They are a team that has been active in making moves and will continue as well. Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins are going to be future all-stars on a regular basis. The additions of Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana last season also prove they're ready to compete. They were right there with the Braves last season until they collapsed down the stretch.
2) OF Bryce Harper: Washington Nationals (Resigns)
It always seems the Nationals have a team on paper that will win it all yet they never seem to put it together on the field. This could cause Harper to lose faith in the organization and move on. They have had several coaching changes in his tenure. Harper could easily get a major contract this season worth 10-years and over $30 million a season. Although Harper has battled injuries and inconsistent play since his 2015 MVP season. I could see him signing a short term contract with the Nationals for higher money and incentives. The Nationals still do have a nice talented roster with some elite prospects coming up. Juan Soto proved himself last year and Victor Robles will likely make an impact in 2019. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg are still Cy Young candidates each year. Trea Turner is still only 25 and Anthony Rendon is in his prime. I could see Harper bucking the trend and signing a 3-4 year deal with the Nationals for over $30 million a year to see what happens these next few seasons. If it doesn't work out he reenters free agency at 30 and can still get a major contract.
3) SP Patrick Corbin: Atlanta Braves
MLB reporters seem to think it's a done deal that he will end up with the Yankees. They can offer him the money, they really need starting pitching, and he comes from a Yankee family. It all make sense right? Well that's why the Atlanta Braves are going to swoop in last second and make him an offer he can't refuse. The Braves have a strong young nucleus of players. They have a deep farm system. What they don't have is a leader to anchor their starting staff. Corbin is 29-years old and will be in his prime. He could command a front loaded contract while players like Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr are still on league minimum contracts. Freddie Freeman is a star and this team did win their division last season. Corbin and some bullpen help could help put this team to the top of the National League.
4) OF Michael Brantley: Cleveland Indians (Resigns)
I think Brantley is an underrated player. He has battled injuries over the last few seasons. He will be 32 in May, but he still has many years left of production. All he does is hit. I'm honestly surprised sites have Brantley rated so high. He's never talked about! The Indians are believed to be a team that is looking to shed payroll, yet still want to compete. They didn't offer a qualifying offer to Brantley which would make him more attractive to the teams out there. Yet my gut still tells me that they bring him back to Cleveland. The team he has been with his whole career. He still gets to share a field with MVP talents like Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez. The starting staff is very solid. If the team can retool their bullpen this team will be right back in the playoffs.
5) CP Craig Kimbrel: Chicago Cubs
It feels like Kimbrel has been in the league forever but he's only 30. The Cubs are still in their window to compete right now. The Brewers have stepped their game up big time in 2018 and may put more pressure on the Cubs to make a move. They signed Brandon Morrow in 2018 to be their closer but he spent a lot of time on the disabled list. Coach Maddon seemed to lose faith in Edwards down the stretch. Strop is still very good but not enough. I think the Cubs get aggressive and build through the bullpen and let guys like Harper and Machado sign elsewhere.
6) SP Dallas Keuchel: New York Yankees
If the Yankees don't get Corbin they're going to go hard after Keuchel. He's a ground ball pitcher that would work out well in New York. He's also a gamer. With the Verlander and Cole joining the Astros over the last few years Keuchel has kind of been pushed to the back of the rotation. It will be weird to see Keuchel without his beard in a Yankees uniform. This does give me some worries.
7) DH Nelson Cruz: Oakland Athletics
While Cruz is getting up there in age he still has been a very consistent hitter into his late 30's. The moves that the Mariners have made lately I don't think Cruz is still in their plans. The Oakland Athletics seemed to surprise most people last season and competed into the wild card game. Cruz could anchor their team in the middle of the lineup. I think with Cruz's older age GM Billy Beane could get a great hitter at a discount.
8) SP Nathan Eovaldi: Boston Red Sox (Resigns)
Eovaldi could have been the World Series MVP if not for Pearce. Hitting triple digits with his fastball and pitching on short rest showed he's a gamer. Teams may be afraid of the Red Sox overusing him. He does have a injury history that's pretty long that could scare away a lot of teams. I think there is something about winning a World Series with an organization that breeds some loyalty. I also think the Red Sox are very high on Eovaldi. If he does falter as a starter he could be utilized out of the bullpen.
9) RP Adam Ottavino: Los Angeles Dodgers
Ottavino was one of the best relievers in baseball last season. The Dodgers are always a team looking to improve. By adding Ottavino not only would they improve their bullpen but they would be stealing a great pitcher from an in-division rival the Colorado Rockies. Dodgers are not afraid to add money if though a lot of their players are actually under team control. They are in a good position to make a move. Ottavino would also add some insurance for Kenley Jansen who hasn't been the same dominant guy we saw a few years ago.
10) C Wilson Ramos: Houston Astros
The Astros organization is one of the best. One of the few place they could use an upgrade is at catcher. Wilson Ramos is more a hitter than a defender. By joining an American League team he could continue to be a hitter as a DH if he signs a longer contract. All the Astros catcher options in 2018 are all free agents as well. I think this makes a lot of sense.
11) 3B Mike Moustakas: Philadelphia Phillies
I could easily see Moustakas resigning with the Brewers, but I don't think they necessarily need him. Therefore the Phillies will outbid for his services. Brewers can easily slide Travis Shaw back to 3B and allow Orlando Arcia to play SS and Jonathan Schoop to play 2B again. The Phillies would essentially give up on their once hyped Prospect Maikel Franco after 4 years of average play. Franco is only 26 but could be a player in need of a change of scenery. Adding Moustakas and Machado to the left side of the infield would improve the Phillies defense drastically and add major pop to the lineup.
12) OF A.J. Pollock: Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks are at an interesting position. They competed for most of the year in 2018 up until that final month. Yet now the team feels the need to retool their team. The rumors out of Arizona is that they are listening for trades offers for their best player Paul Goldschmidt. Pollock was once a very promising player before injuries seemed to get the best of him. I'm not real sure his value on the market anymore. I could see some contenders asking him to move to RF. If the team doesn't trade Goldschmidt I could see Pollock returning on a short term deal to prove he has more value than is perceived.
13) SP J.A. Happ: Milwaukee Brewers
While in the playoffs they utilized their bullpen a lot, but they still need starting pitching. That strategy was more because of their lack of trust in their starters. However they do have internal options to become starters. If they don't resign Wade Miley I think J.A. Happ is an option for the Brewers.
14) RP/CP Jeurys Familia: Boston Red Sox
This just seems like an easy move. The Red Sox won't want to pay big dollars for Kimbrel but they still will want to add arms to the bullpen. Joe Kelly is also a free agent after being a key member down the stretch for the Red Sox. Familia doesn't come with any restrictions after being traded to the Oakland Athletics mid-season. That way they won't have to worry about losing any draft picks.
15) RP David Robertson: New York Yankees (Resigns)
While he is starting to get up there in age for a pitcher he still a very good relief pitcher. The fact that he fired his agent means he's happy where he is in life. He likely will resign and take whatever the Yankees want to offer him.
16) RP Andrew Miller: Cleveland Indians (Resigns)
Unless the Indians really are drastically trying to cut money I could see Miller resign with a prove it deal with the Indians. Likely sign for a 1 year deal. He was not himself in 2018 while he struggled with injuries. He posted an ERA over 4. He will turn 34 in 2019. He's still a good pitcher in my view and he will get some offers but it may not be the right combination of dollar amount and team. The Indians are still a good team and still do have Brad Hand to be the closer so Miller could be let go. I'm trying my best to play the odds. I say Indians have a 40% chance of resigning him while the rest of the field of 60% could be any team and I have no clue what Miller really wants in his career right now. He could easily return to the Red Sox.
17) RP/CP Zach Britton: St. Louis Cardinals
As a Cardinals fan this just makes too much sense to me. The Cardinals need both a strong left handed relief pitcher and also someone who can close games. Britton can do both of these things. Britton is only 30 and has plenty of life left in his career, but he could easily transition into a setup pitcher over the next few years if Jordan Hicks takes over the closer role in 2019 or 2020. Or they could just keep Britton as closer and Hicks at the setup man. It gives the team options. The Cardinals are also not likely afraid to offer him good money after striking out on the likes or Harper and/or Machado.
18) 3B Josh Donaldson: St. Louis Cardinals
Speaking of the Cardinals... as I just mentioned after striking out on the high dollar free agents they could decide to spread that money around on a few players such as Britton and Donaldson. Donaldson was once an MVP caliber player. Injuries have really slowed him down over the last few seasons and teams aren't quite sure what type of player he is anymore. Donaldson will be 33 to start the 2019 season. Many teams will be afraid to offer him a long term deal. He's a high risk high reward type of player. I think the Cardinals could offer a 3-4 year contract and both sides would be happy. The Cardinals would risk the money. They also know that they had Nolan Gorman developing in the minors to take over at 3B eventually. He will only be 19 in 2019 and they won't have to push him through the system.
19) C Yasmani Grandal: Washington Nationals
The Dodgers gave Grandal a qualifying offer. He's one of the few players I think could/should accept that and stay with the Dodgers. Although I could see the Nationals making a serious offer for Grandal's services. The Dodgers don't necessarily need him anymore. The Nationals definitely would. If Harper leaves they have the money to overpay for him. If Harper stays well then the team looks more competitive and appealing. That division is up for grabs.
20) SP Yusei Kikuchi: Seattle Mariners
You never know who has the upper hand when it comes to signing international free agents. All I know is that the Mariners always seem to have their organization involved. They also need pitching. This is just a dart throw to round out my top 20.
Published by Brian Argetsinger