So far this off-season we’ve seen Yu Darvish go to the Cubs, Jake Arrieta make a surprise signing with the Phils, and the Angels win the battle for the highly anticipated Japenese prospect, Shohei Ohtani. We have one week ’till opening day on March 29th and a few big-name free agents are still up for the taking.
Many teams think these FAs have a bigger name (and salary expectation) than they deserve, which is why they’re still on the board. Regardless, as opening day approaches, teams and players will become more willing to settle and sign the dotted lines. There’s certainly potential for some last minute fireworks (maybe sparklers?) so let’s explore the unsigned notables and where they may end up this season.
Some have speculated that the 37-year-old, who is coming off a rough year, has his eyes on a team that isn’t in Toronto. The Tampa Bay Times reports Joey Bats is “keenly interested” in joining the Rays. Not only does Bautista live in Tampa, but they’re also in the AL East with the Blue Jays. So as Jose approaches retirement, he would play in Toronto several times each year and get a hero’s welcome.
The mountain man Werth, 38, is another aging unsigned player with plenty of history in the league. His next team may be his forever home, and what better team to finish with than where it all started – in Philadelphia. There hasn’t been much chatter about Werth’s landing spot this offseason, but some think he may head back to the Phils, where he’s been greeted with a consistent shower of boos ever since he left in 2011. Werth has said he’s embraced the jeers and would welcome the possibility of returning to the team where he won a World Series in ’08.
At the youthful age of 33, Melky is one of the youngest on our list of big name, remaining (and aging) FAs. He was also one of the few to have one of his best statistical seasons last year. In 2017, he finished with a .285 BA with 17 homers and .746 OPS in 156 games. With the Pirates losing their stud outfielder in Andrew McCutchen, many think Melky would be a decent fit to fill that major void.
It’ll be weird for Dodgers fans to see Ethier wearing another team’s pinstripes this season. The outfielder has spent all 12 years of his MLB career in Los Angeles, but the team bought out the rest of his contract this past November and announced they will not be resigning him. TBD on where he ends up, but he has made it very clear he has no intention of retiring.
John Lackey, 39, plans to pitch in 2018. He’s just not sure where though. He had an impressive 30 starts for the Cubs last year but finished with a 12-12 record and his second-lowest ERA in 12 seasons at 4.59. He was also notably not a member of the Cubs’ postseason rotation after posting a 9.82 ERA in his final three appearances. So far teams haven’t been too receptive to the grizzled vet, but now that the top four free agent pitchers are off the market – Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb – maybe that will help open some doors.
Here are some other notable unsigned free agents to keep an eye on as the season approaches:
- Matt Holliday
- Matt Reynolds
- Ubaldo Jimenez
- Matt Garza
- Brandon Phillips
- Huston Street
- Carlos Ruiz … Bring CHOOCH back to Philly so I can fall in love all over again
- R.A. Dickey
- Greg Holland
- Yunel Escobar
- Seth Smith
- Trevor Rosenthal
- Rajai Davis
What’s not to love?