Welcome to Part 1 of my 2018 MLB Free Agent and Trade Predictions. Free agency has been off to a slow start, but it’s far from over. Players like 1B Eric Hosmer, SP Jake Arrieta, SP Yu Darvish, and 3B Todd Frazier will eventually be signed. But where will they go? That’s the biggest question, and I’m about to try to answer it. Today I will be predicting landing spots for the MLB’s best pitchers on the market.
Photo Credit: ESPN (ESPN updates the player photos when players sign with new teams, so once the off-season is over, you will be able to check back and see how I did. It currently shows the player’s most recent team)
Prediction: Baltimore Orioles, 4 years, $92 million
It would be crazy if Arrieta returned to Baltimore, but I think he’s a great fit. The O’s have serious rotation problems. They lack depth and they need an ace, and this helps resolve both of those problems. But Arrieta won’t be able to fix the Orioles rotation alone. They’ll need to sign a 5th starter to complete the rotation behind Arrieta, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, and Mike Wright/Alec Asher.
Prediction: San Francisco Giants: 2 years, $19 million
After the retirement of Matt Cain and the departure of Matt Moore, the Giants need some depth in the rotation behind Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija. Cashner will help do that as the Giants try to rebound from a rough season where they finished last in the NL West. However, more starters might not be enough to get the Giants into the playoffs and continue their even year success.
Prediction: Chicago White Sox, 3 years, $42 million
There have been a lot of rumors about Cobb going to the Cubs, but I think the White Sox could also use an elite veteran starter as an influence for the younger guys. The White Sox could also use one more starter in case one of the younger guys struggles. I know the White Sox are in rebuild mode, but that doesn’t mean they can’t go out and sign a couple veterans to help their cause. That will be a theme throughout this series.
Prediction: Chicago Cubs: 5 years, $135 million
Darvish is another pitcher that the Cubs have been chasing after this off-season, and I do think they’ll pursue him. He will be Arrieta’s replacement in the rotation. But after playing the role of #2 starter on both Texas and LA last season behind Cole Hamels and Clayton Kershaw, respectively, can he step it up and become a reliable ace again?
Prediction: San Francisco Giants, 2 years, $17 million
Garza will also add depth to San Francisco’s rotation in an effort to bounce back from their rough season. With the additions of Cashner and Garza, their rotation will have a strong group of five veteran starters to guide the pitching staff.
Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals, 3 years, $33 million
After the departure of Lance Lynn and Mike Leake, the Cardinals will need another pitcher in the rotation. Alex Reyes should be in the rotation this year, but Jimenez will be the mid-rotation starter they need. As the Cardinals hope to return to the playoffs this year, they will need another veteran starter.
Prediction: Kansas City Royals, 2 years, $32 million
I still think Lackey has a couple more years left in the tank, and despite the fact that the Royals are trying to rebuild, I think they could use a veteran starter to top off the rotation. They have a lot of young talent in the lineup, but I don’t know if all their pitching prospects are major league ready yet. They might need a couple more years, and that’s where Lackey comes in.
Prediction: Miami Marlins, 2 years, $27 million
The Marlins need a couple more veteran starters to add to the depth of their rotation, even in rebuild mode. Lynn will help fill that role as well as Chris Tillman, who I also think will be signed by Miami.
Prediction: Miami Marlins, 3 years, $30 million
Tillman will also help add depth to the Miami rotation. Neither will get more than a few years though because by then, there will be more pitching prospects ready to join the rotation.
Prediction: San Diego Padres, 4 years, $62 million
The Padres could use a veteran influence in the rotation as well. Vargas had a career year last year, but can he repeat that? Either way, Vargas will be a leader in the Padres young rotation and he will be a role model for the younger starters on the rise.
Jesse Chavez (OAK, 3 years, $18 million)
R.A. Dickey (TEX, 2 years, $11 million)
Scott Feldman (TOR, 1 year, $7 million)
Jaime Garcia (NYY, 4 years, $26 million)
AJ Griffin (LAA, 1 year, $4.5 million)
Jeremy Hellickson (BAL, 2 years, $10 million)
Francisco Liriano (COL, 3 years, $24 million)
Wade Miley (TB, 3 years, $31.5 million)
Ricky Nolasco (MIN, 2 years, $15 million)
Hector Santiago (DET, 2 years, $17 million)
Prediction: Cleveland Indians, 2 years, $11 million
Blanton will add depth to the Indians bullpen. He will likely be their 7th inning guy or set up man if they sign him. They have signed Alexi Ogando and Evan Marshall to minor league deals, but in case those two don’t come through, I think the Indians will sign Blanton as a safe veteran option.
Prediction: Pittsburgh Pirates, 4 years, $28 million
The Pirates have good depth in the bullpen, but they need a closer and set-up guys who can lead the bullpen. Will Clippard be able to handle the role of closer? That is what must be found out. Pittsburgh might need to go for another late-inning reliever to help him out. Maybe they’ll even resign set-up man Joaquin Benoit.
Prediction; Detroit Tigers, 1 year, $6 million
Grilli might be determined to keep pitching, but I doubt he was more than one or two more years left in the tank. I think Detroit will sign him as a closer until they find a younger replacement, which they will need as they enter rebuild mode.
Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers, 5 years, $42.5 million
The Brewers are another team that could use a closer/late inning reliever, and Holland is a great fit in Milwaukee. Although they have been off to a slow start, expect the Brewers to be active buyers this off-season as they prepare to make a playoff run.
Prediction: Los Angeles Angels, 3 years, $19.5 million
Hoover will be the late-inning reliever the Angels need. He will assist others like Cam Bedrosian to finish off games. The Angels may want a top tier closer like Greg Holland, but the combination of Hoover and Bedrosian may just do the trick.
Prediction: Cincinnati Reds, 3 years, $16.5 million
After the departures of Drew Stanton (who I do think the Reds will also resign), Tony Cingrani, and J.J. Hoover, the Reds need depth in the bullpen and late-inning relievers to finish off the game. This is the year where the Reds could start contending, and Logan will help their case. He will be a part of their revised late-inning staff and add depth to the pen.
Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies, 2 years, $8 million
The Phillies will sign Norris as a reliever, but knowing that he has started in the past, I wouldn’t rule out a role in the Phillies rotation for him. If they sign him, he will make the roster either as another starter or someone to add depth to the bullpen, but will he beat out the younger players and make the rotation?
Prediction: Atlanta Braves, 3 years, $18 million
The Braves could use a reliever to set the stage for closer Arodys Vizcaino, and that’s what Street would be here for. In general, the Braves could use some more veteran relievers to add depth to the bullpen so this signing will kill two birds with one stone.
My Prediction: Arizona Diamondbacks, 4 years, $30 million
The D-Backs lost a couple of their veteran relievers to free agency and trades, and I just feel that Watson would fit in well in Arizona. Throughout the last couple of years, the Diamondbacks have lost J.J. Hoover, Evan Marshall, and David Hernandez. They already lacked depth in the bullpen with those guys on board, so they need it now more than ever.
Joaquin Benoit (PIT, 3 years, $20 million)
David Hernandez (ARZ, 2 years, $15 million)
Zach Putnam (CWS, 3 years, $22.5 million)
Addison Reed (BOS, 2 years, $14 million)
Drew Storen (CIN, 2 years, $17.5 million)
That’s all for Part 1 of my MLB Hot Stove predictions. Check back soon for Part 2, where I talk about catchers and infielders.