Three weeks before pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report, and the free agent market is still in slow motion. MLBTR listed 50 top free agents. Of those 50, 25 remain unsigned, including eight of the top ten. Of those eight, only Darvish is rumored close to signing. What’s to become of the other seven; JDM, Hosmer, Arrieta, Moustakas, Cain, Lynn, & Holland? There are no fresh rumors. Four of the seven are Boras clients.
Another factor is that seven of the nine players with qualifying contracts remain unsigned; Hosmer, Arrieta, Moustakas, Cain, Lynn, Holland, and Cobb. I am sure that MLB Players Association is taking notice of this.
THAT WAS WHAT I STARTED TO WRITE BEFORE the Brewers went all San Diego/Arizona on MLB, traded for Yelich and signed Lorenzo Cain. Are they going to go after Darvish or Arrieta to complete their resurrection? Are they going to be trading for Danny Salazar or Chris Archer?
Now that one of the last of the big trade candidates has been moved, and a big free agent has finally signed, I think we will start to see some more activity. Cain’s 5 years at $80M is the biggest 2017/18 FA contract thus far. There are still some trades that can and will be made. I expect the Giants to make a run at Broxton or Phillips of the Brewers. I expect the Nationals to make a run at Realmuto. The Yankees may have some interest in Josh Harrison. But the bulk of activity will be the free agents. Which one will be the first to sign; Darvish, Hosmer, JDM?
Of the 24 unsigned, there are 8 starting pitchers, 5 OF, 3 1B, 2 3B, 2 C, 2 RP, 1 2B, and 1 utility. There are some interesting names that remain unsigned with very limited interested teams. With Jose Reyes signing with the Mets, I think the market for Neil Walker is drying up. The Yankees are still checking in on Walker, but I think the Yankees stay with Miguel Andujar to start the season, and see where that goes. What about the two 3B, Moustakas and Frazier? The Yankees may have some interest, but I think they still want to go with Gleybar Torres to start. They have enough offense to handle two unknowns, at least in the beginning of the year. They may still be in on Darvish. Angels signed Zack Cozart early to fill their need at 3B. The Padres still have a trade chip in Chase Headley. The Braves will probably not sign a long term deal with a 3B. They will stay with Johan Camargo or Rio Ruiz for now.
The Cubs will end up with Darvish, Arrieta, or Cobb. I still think Boston is in on JDM, but at no more than $125M. Hosmer is down to two teams, Padres and Royals. Perhaps the Pads realized that they do not need to spend $150M plus on a 1B while they are still a non-contending team and probably will not begin to blossom until 2020. Logan Morrison would be a better choice for them. I think Morrison ends up wherever Hosmer does not. Maybe the Rays sign Duda to replace Morrison. But then again, they have enough LH bats on their roster. Maybe the White Sox sign Duda to give the ChiSox more options to move Abreu.
Now that the Giants are out of the free agency market, where does CarGo, Carlos Gomez, Jarrod Dyson, or John Jay end up? Their free agent market is not what they thought it would be. Baltimore is still looking for a LH hitting OF, and any of CarGo, Dyson, or Jay has to be on their radar, but not at what they thought they were going to get. If I were a Rockies fan, I would want to re-sign CarGo.
If the Nats do not want to trade Robles or Soto, I would expect them to look at Jonathan Lucroy or Alex Avila for their catcher. Whichever one does not sign, it is going to be a tough tough market.
The only team I have heard that has any real interest in Lance Lynn at his requested price is Seattle. With a luxury tax salary level at $170M, I do not see them really going for a pitcher with an AAV north of $15M. But they are running out of time, and they may want to take the Brewers and Giants approach about going all in this year. Dipoto is a wild card, so who knows what they are going to do. They let Dyson go FA, and then bring in a 2B with a $10M AAV to play CF. Sign Dyson or Jay, and have enough for any of the free agent pitchers, and still be in a position to make adjustments at the trade deadline.
Eduardo Nunez is running out of viable options. Andrew Cashner, Jason Vargas, and Chris Tillman are probably just hoping for a one year deal to prove themselves.
I do not see the Dodgers doing anything other than signing free agent relievers to minor league contracts with a ST invite, like Neftali Perez. Xavier Cedeno just signed a minor league contract with the ChiSox. I think he has a good chance at sticking.
I do not see them going after Darvish unless they can get him for a $16M – $18M AAV. But let me play devil’s advocate with myself. The Dodgers traded for Darvish and Hill at the deadline for the playoffs. They do not need Darvish to get to the playoffs. But if not Darvish now, who might be available at the trade deadline. FAZ likes high level rentals, so who might be available from the 2018 free agent list that is not on a contender. The top potential free agent pitchers might be Carlos Carrasco, Gio Gonzalez, Dallas Keuchel, Drew Pomeranz, or Garrett Richards. All of those pitchers will be on contenders, and the teams are very unlikely to trade them. The next level would include, Matt Harvey, Matt Moore, Charlie Morton, Cole Hamels, and Ervin Santana. Santana will be on a contender, as will Morton. Harvey is probably not the best clubhouse presence, and Hamels is way too expensive. There is not much chance of his 2019 option vesting (he would have to pitch 252 innings), but he would have a $6M buyout which the Rangers would have to pay plus some of 2018. So there really is not a pitcher that appears to whet the interest of the Dodgers, even at the deadline. So maybe they hedge their bets on Maeda, Ryu, Buehler, and Urias, with a one year low guarantee but incentivized contract for Chris Tillman, and hope that they can re-invent him.
No. Even being a devil’s advocate does not convince me. The Dodgers will not make a big effort to re-sign Darvish and will instead stand pat. Many on here are high on Ryu, and if he is good, he becomes the #4 in the playoffs with Maeda going to the pen. One or both of Buehler and Urias should give the Dodgers a boost at the trade deadline.
I expect continuing development and adjustments for Seager and Bellinger, who are destined to become super-stars, and along with Kershaw the face of the Dodgers.
I expect JT, CT3, and Puig to continue to play at a high level. I also expect Puig to continue to mature and be a community leader. I also think he is a prime candidate for an extension to take him out of his final arbitration year and 2-3 free agent years.
I expect Forsythe to play over his head for his walk year. I expect Barnes/Grandal to be the best catching duo in MLB.
I expect Toles to break out and be the 2018 version of CT3.
I expect the Dodgers will find their new 8th inning man. I am hoping it is Brock Stewart, but he has to want to be a high leverage reliever first.
I expect the Dodgers will have 9 starters in 2018. Kershaw, Hill, Wood, Maeda, Ryu, Stewart, Stripling, Buehler, and Urias. Font and Koehler outside shots.
I expect Dennis Santana to come up in September and prove what a valuable arm he really has, but as a reliever. He may never leave the 25 man after he is called up.
I expect the Dodgers to win the 2018 World Series Championship.
One Final Point to Cover:
Bums asked why I never included Puig’s slash line against LHP when pointing out Joc’s. That was a fair observation and request. Agreed, Puig did not hit well against LHP in 2017, but that was his only off year against LHP. Career slash lines are as follows:
Puig’s Career Splits:
Joc’s Career Splits:
Puig’s previous lowest slash line against LHP was in 2014: .258/.377/.359/.736