This MLB offseason has not been the most eventful as compared to years past, but there were still quite a few notable signings over this winter in the baseball world. With notable players joining new clubs such as Lorenzo Cain (Brewers), Todd Frazier (Mets), Jay Bruce (Mets, second time), Yonder Alonso (Indians), Yu Darvish (Cubs), and massive trades such as the Marlins sending Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees and the Rays sending Evan Longoria to the Giants, we have definitely seen the baseball landscape change quite a bit this offseason. Even with these players being traded or signing with new teams, there are still quite a few valuable baseball players left on the free agent market. In this article, I will take a look at the top remaining free agents and where there is a good possibility that they will end up come opening day.
1. Eduardo Nunez
Eduardo Nunez split time last year between the Giants and the Red Sox. In 2017 Nunez finished with a line of 12 Home Runs, 58 Runs BAtted In, .313 Average in just 114 games last season. Nunez is a very valuable player for any team to have, he can play numerous positions in the infield and outfield, he’s one of the best base stealers in the game (had 42 stolen bases in 2017), and has hit for a high average since becoming an everyday starter with the Twins in 2016. There have been numerous teams interested in Nunez such as the Yankees, Rays, and Braves. Although all these teams could use a third baseman (which is where Nunez will most likely spend most of his time in the field), Tampa just traded their all-star third baseman (as I mentioned before) to the Giants. With Tampa needing to fill the hole now at third and also being currently quite weak at second base (another position which Eduardo can play), look for the Rays to sign Nunez before Spring Traning begins because of his versatility and the need to add another solid bat to what is right now a fairly weak lineup.
Probable Destination: Tampa Bay Rays
2. Jake Arietta
Jake Arietta had spent his last four seasons with the Chicago Cubs, being one of the main components in helping them go from last place in 2014 to world champions in 2016. In his time in Chicago besides helping the Cubs capture their first championship since 1908, he also won the 2015 NL Cy Young award. In 2015 Arietta posted a phenomenal pitching line of 22 wins, 6 losses, a superb 1.77 ERA, and 236 strikeouts. With Chicago giving Yu Darvish a massive contract to replace Arietta in their rotation, Jake will be heading elsewhere for the 2018 season. Teams such as the Dodgers and Rangers are regarded as possible landing spots for the former Cy Young award winner, but I am going to go another route. A team I can see possibly signing Arietta is Colorado, the Rockies have one of the best lineups in baseball, and to go along with some nice young pitchers, they reached the NL wild-card game last season. Arietta would be a great addition to help some of these young studs in the Rockies rotation, providing some of the young players with veteran leadership. Also, last season once Colorado reached the wild card game, they did not have a Pitcher nearly as good or with the same experience as Arizona’s Zack Grenkie, and in a one-game playoff, if you’re on the weaker end of the starting pitching line, you are in big trouble. If this situation were to happen again, but this time Colorado would be able to throw Arietta out there (a proven veteran ace) in a one-game playoff instead of a young pitcher, the Rockies chances of advancing to their first MLB playoff series since 2009 would increase dramatically.
Probable Destination: Colorado Rockies
3. Mike Moustakas
Mike Moustakas had an incredible season in his contract year in 2017 and was a major piece on the 2015 World Champion Royals roster. Last season Moustakas his a walloping 38 home runs, to go along with 85 Runs Batted In and a .272 Average. With Mike’s wide display of power last season, he has shown the baseball world that he could possibly be the power iter that teams can rely on to hit them a bomb when needed. With the exodus of players from Kansas City this offseason and the Royals going into full rebuild mode, Mike definitely won’t be sporting the Royal Blue come spring. It looked like early on that Mike was going to sign with a contending team that was looking for an extra bat, such as the Yankees, Mets, and Giants, but with those teams finding offense elsewhere, we will probably not see Moustakas in the Bay or in the Big Apple in 2018. A team I can possibly see him going to is the Atlanta Braves a primarily young team that started to make the climb out of the NL cellar last season. Mike could provide Atlanta with some much-needed offense (and some protection in the lineup behind Freddie Freeman), he can fill third base which is a currently a position the Braves are weak in, and he would be a good veteran with experience to have around the young players on Atlanta.
Probable Destination: Atlanta Braves
4. Eric Hosmer
Eric Hosmer, one of the premier first basemen in the MLB currently, is another star player that is leaving Kansas City this winter. Hosmer was one of the main pieces on the 2015 Champion Royals and has been a key component in their lineup since 2011. Last season, Hosmer hit 25 Home Runs, drove in 94 runners, had an average of .318 to go along with close to 200 hits. Hosmer has shown that he is one of the best all-around first basemen in baseball, by being able to hit for power, average, play great defensively, and even steal a base once in a while. While it is rumored that Hosmer could possibly return to Kansas City, or sign with rebuilding team such as the Padres, I believe there is a good chance the man ends up in Boston. The Red Sox have to do SOMETHING considering the upgrades the rival Yankees made to their roster this winter, and Hosmer could be just that. With it looking less and less likely that super-star caliber player J.D. Martinez is going to sign in Boston, The Red Sox should sign Hosmer to show the Yankees that they won’t just stand pat while the Yanks hit bomb after bomb with Stanton and Judge this coming season. If Boston signs Hosmer, they can move Mitch Moreland to DH and try to get rid of the aging Hanley Ramirez, who is clearly not what he once was even as recently as two seasons ago.
Probable Destination: Boston Red Sox
5. J.D. Martinez
J.D. Martinez has quietly become one of the best players in baseball over the last few seasons (when he is healthy). J.D. has been one of baseball’s best-kept secrets over the last few season’s because he played for a lackluster Detroit team. Last season at the trade deadline, Martinez was finally dealt out of Detroit and sent to a playoff contending Arizona, where he helped the D-Backs reach the NLDS. In 2017 in a season split between Detroit and Arizona, Martinez hit a walloping 45 home runs (third in baseball) to go along with 104 runs batted in and a .303 batting average. The numbers Martinez posted in 2017 are nothing short of MVP-esque, and where ever he ends up signing, I’m sure his contract will show the world that J.D. is, in fact, a super-star caliber player. Obviously, the place everyone thought he was going to sign was Boston, but it is seeming less and less likely that J.D. will go to Boston as the days go by. Somewhere I can see Martinez ending up this offseason is in Seattle, as we have seen the M’s are do not shy away from handing out huge contracts (example: Robinson Cano’s contract), and they are still searching for that one player to get them over the hump, and send them to their first playoff appearance since 2001. Not only will the Mariners signing be quite possible the biggest signing of this baseball winter, but it should all but solidify Seattle’s return to playoff baseball for the first time in over 15 years.
Probable Destination: Seattle Mariners