Though Manny Machado has just signed a 10 year, $300 million contract with the Padres, Bryce Harper and many other top MLB free agents are still on the market with Cactus League and Grapefruit League action starting up. With Harper rumors really starting to heat up, I will be listing my Top 5 of the remaining MLB free agents and predicting their contracts. Feel free to comment with your thoughts. I’ll start with the obvious #1:
1. Bryce Harper, OF
2018 Team: Washington Nationals
If you’ve been following any kind of MLB off-season news, you’ve probably heard plenty about Harper, so I’ll keep this brief. The Nationals could still be in it to re-sign the 26-year old Harper after a strong start to his career in Washington. But the Phillies appear to be the current front runners. The latest rumors suggest that the Phillies are in Vegas with Harper and may have a deal done by Monday. But earlier this week, we heard the same thing about Friday, and it didn’t end up happening. Will Harper end up in Philly, or will a mystery team swoop in before the Phillies finalize things?
My Prediction: San Francisco Giants, 10 years, $330 million
I’ve heard things suggesting that the Giants aren’t up to offer a $300 million contract to Harper. But now that they are reportedly willing to offer a long-term deal, they could change their mind considering the mutual interest between Harper and San Fran. If the Giants came close to Philly’s offer, maybe Harper would sign there out of impatience. Plus, the Phillies are division rivals of the Nats, and the west coast is closer to Harper’s hometown.
2. Craig Kimbrel, CL
2018 Team: Boston Red Sox
Kimbrel’s agent made it clear that although Kimbrel has been stubborn about his contract, he will pitch in 2019. But with the late inning relief market already settling down, where does Kimbrel fit? Sure, he could re-sign with Atlanta. But you cannot discount Arodys Vizcaino as a closing option for the Braves.
My Prediction: Boston Red Sox, 4 years, $64 million
Kimbrel will eventually have to settle for a smaller contract, and if there’s any team who could still use relief help, it’s Boston. The Red Sox have been adamant about finding a closer internally. Who knows, Jenrry Mejia or Tyler Thornburg could bounce back. Matt Barnes could step it up. But I think the Red Sox will end up bringing back Kimbrel as a safety net once his price goes down. Barnes, Mejia, Thornburg, and others can set up Kimbrel.
3. Dallas Keuchel, SP
2018 Team: Houston Astros
Keuchel, like Harper, is a Scott Boras client, and Boras clients have tended to sign late into the off-season, so it’s not a huge surprise that Keuchel is still on the market. But unlike the relief market, there is still a handful of teams that could use starting pitching help. The Phillies, Braves, and Padres have been linked to Keuchel, but the Padres just signed Machado, and the Phillies aren’t going to turn attention to Keuchel unless they lose out on Harper. The Braves would be smarter to sign a lower-tier starter considering their surplus of SP prospects on the verge of a major league career. I see the Padres finding a cheaper option and a surprise team signing Kimbrel.
My Prediction: Toronto Blue Jays, 4 years, $68 million
The Blue Jays may have a decent rotation going with Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Matt Shoemaker, Clayton Richard, and Ryan Borucki. But they lack a true ace, and could use depth in case Borucki turns out to be a bust or Shoemaker and Richard are inconsistent or get hurt. Keuchel could help Toronto kill two birds with one stone. Why sign a top line starter with so many prospects about to crack the majors? Well, Toronto’s rebuild is a unique situation. With this legendary group of prospects, Toronto’s a pitcher or two away from contending during a rebuild.
4. Adam Jones, OF
2018 Team: Baltimore Orioles
When people think about all the quality players still on the FA market, they think Harper, Kimbrel, and Keuchel. But what about Adam Jones, who slashed .281/.313/.419 with 15 dingers despite a down year? Back in 2017, he put up a .787 OPS with 26 home runs. Though he is getting up there in age, I think he still has potential to succeed for the next few years to come. But where? He will likely end up with a team that needs OF help but cannot afford Harper. Maybe a small market team that hasn’t spent much this off-season could be a fit.
My Prediction: Cleveland Indians, 3 years, $48 million
The Indians spent a lot in 2016 and 2017, but after cheaping up by trading away Yonder Alonso and Edwin Encarnacion, they may have room for the outfield centerpiece they need. Jones would allow Bradley Zimmer, Leonys Martin, Tyler Naquin, Greg Allen, and Jordan Luplow to split time among the remaining two outfield spots. I don’t see any of them as full time starters, so this is a good depth signing. Maybe trading away one of their lower-end outfielders after could be a smart move. That way, the Indians will have less crowding and more talent.
5. Gio Gonzalez, SP
2018 Teams: Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers
Gonzalez is a cheaper SP option that teams who cannot afford Keuchel may go after. Gonzalez had a strong year in 2018, making the case for a decent sized contract. But he hasn’t received much interest from teams besides the Brewers, who traded for him at the deadline. Who will end up signing him?
My Prediction: San Diego Padres, 3 years, $39 million
The Padres aren’t going to want to invest in Keuchel after signing Machado. So I think it’s more likely that they save a few bucks and add Gonzalez. You could make an argument that the entire Padres rotation is wide open. There is no pitcher on their current roster that I see as a surefire starter. But Gonzalez will provide the Padres with the rotation stability they need, with the help of another low-tier free agent starter or two.
That’s all for today. Stay tuned for MLB predictions once Harper finally makes his decision.
By the way, I actually have the Dodgers winning the world series, but I wanted to show my Red Sox fandom on my Animoto account.
Alright, let’s dig in.
Boston Red Sox 92-70
Toronto Blue Jays 89-73
New York Yankees 85-77
Tampa Bay Rays 83-79
Baltimore Orioles 74-88
I have the Red Sox bouncing back from an ugly season and going from worst to first once again. The Red Sox were even bolder than they were last off season, acquiring Craig Kimbrel from the Padres, despite giving up former #3 and #7 prospects Manuel Margot and Javier Guerra. Then they signed AL Cy Young runner up David Price to a seven year, 217 million dollar deal. They also signed Chris Young to a two year deal and traded Wade Miley for relievers Roenis Elias and Carson Smith. They now have a strong rotation front and a top closer, along with the powerful lineup the 2015 Red Sox provided.
Meanwhile I think the Blue Jays will stay strong even without their 2015 ace and closer (David Price & LaTroy Hawkins). They still have a strong lineup and some amazing prospects, and they acquired some new starters like J.A. Happ and Jesse Chavez, plus closer/set-up man Drew Storen. I think they still have some playoff relevance.
The Yankees meanwhile have done majority of their moves via trade. They acquired Starlin Castro for Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan, plus star closer Aroldis Chapman from Cincy. Having Chapman in New York will heat up the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry as the Sox acquired Kimbrel. The Yanks should be competitive in the division.
The Rays upgraded their pretty empty offense with Logan Morrison and Brad Miller. Centerfielder Desmond Jennings also will return from injury this season. Alex Cobb will also return. I think the Rays are still a little washed up in their lineup, but they have good defense and pitching.
Meanwhile I don’t think the Orioles’ acquistions are efficient. Mark Trumbo is not a full time starter, Hyun-Soo Kim might not be as good in America, and they still have a serious hole in the rotation. They already had a pretty bad team last year, they just made it a lot worse. The Orioles are by far the worst team in this division. Besides maybe the Rays, every other team in this division will still be in the playoff race at the beginning of September.
Detroit Tigers 93-69
Chicago White Sox 89-73
Kansas City Royals 89-73
Minnesota Twins 73-89
Cleveland Indians 68-94
This division’s teams have made many impact transactions but not every team that made an impact in free agency can do well, especially all in the same division.
The Tigers have really improved their pitching game and outfield to match the rest of their good teams. They signed Justin Upton, Mark Lowe, Mike Pelfrey and Jordan Zimmermann and have acquired Cameron Maybin and Justin Wilson via trade. They only gave up Ian Krol to trade and Alfredo Simon and Rajai Davis to free agency. Even after a bad season, I think that the top prospects and star players will combine to make a bad team in 2015 a great, powerful team that will make an impact in 2016.
Meanwhile the White Sox have also been very active in the hot stove. They’ve revamped their infield by trading for both Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie. Lawrie was a third baseman like Frazier but will play at second to make room for Todd Frazier. They still have a hole at shortstop though.
The Royals are still good, but are once again lacking a rotation. They also have a hole in the outfield unless Jarrod Dyson can step it up. So, they’ll compete, but they aren’t necessarily make the playoffs.
Meanwhile, I don’t think the Twins’ youth plus Byung-Ho Park is enough to bring a good season in the Twin Cities. The Indians haven’t done enough by getting Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis. So there are teams in the Central that aren’t competitive as well.
Texas Rangers 90-72
Seattle Mariners 87-75
Houston Astros 79-83
Oakland Athletics 78-84
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 71-91
I have the Texas Rangers at the top of this division. Look at their rotation. Personally, I think that both Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish are serious Cy Young candidates. The two ace-like pitchers are joined by wing man Derek Holland. They also have a powerful lineup with some guys like Josh Hamilton, Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder who have a ton of potential.
The Mariners also made a lot of impact trades. Despite giving up Logan Morrison, Brad Miller, Roenis Elias and Carson Smith, they traded for Wade Miley, Joaquin Benoit, Jonathan Aro, Nathan Karns, Adam Lind, Leonys Martin and Luis Sardinas. They also signed closer Steve Cishek, outfielder Norichika Aoki and resigned King Felix’s trusty wing-man, Hisashi Iwakuma. So this is a pretty revamped team.
The Astros are also still a somewhat powerful, young team. Guys like Carlos Correa really stepped it up last year, and they signed some strong veterans like Doug Fister. Some veterans, like Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez, are also playing their first full season in Houston and others like Brad Peacock are returning from injury this year. The Astros have a lot of potential but aren’t quite as good as the Mariners and Rangers.
There are teams worse than that though. The Athletics made some minor moves as usual, and they’ve recovered from some injuries to players, so they will be better, just not enough to make an impact. Jarrod Parker returns from Tommy John surgery, and hopefully the former star Coco Crisp can bounce back.
The Los Angeles Angels also will get C.J. Wilson back, but this team is in need of some serious luck. Craig Gentry and Daniel Nava must create an efficient platoon in left, the rotation is full of people who are either feast or famine or fresh off a breakout, and they still have serious problems at second.
So the AL West is competitive, but there is a wide division between the good teams, decent teams and bad teams.
Washington Nationals 93-69
New York Mets 87-75
Miami Marlins 77-85
Philadelphia Phillies 75-87
Atlanta Braves 66-96
The Nationals continue to improve their team. They got solid second baseman Daniel Murphy. They also got Ben Revere for their second unneeded closer Drew Storen. The Jays did need him. They already had a good team, now they have a great and healthy one built off Bryce Harper and star pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer.
The Mets also resigned Yoenis Cespedes and signed Asdrubal Cabrera for the first time. They additionally traded for Neil Walker. They have a strong rotation but still lack power in their lineup. They should be good, but not necessarily a playoff contender as there are much better wild card candidates in the NL.
The Marlins also have improved their pitching to match the lineup they revamped in 2015. But some of the guys like shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, utility Derek Dietrich and first baseman Justin Bour are still developing. At least they have Martin Prado and Don Kelly in the infield, and a pretty powerful, but somewhat old outfield.
The Phillies have gotten better as well. They’ve really improved their rotation, including the acquisition of veterans Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Brett Oberholtzer and Vincent Velasquez. Bobby LaFramboise, Jerad Eickhoff, Luis Garcia and Jeanmar Gomez will lead the bullpen. They also have acquired Peter Bourjos to join Odubel Herrera and Cody Asche in the outfield. They have a stronger, more developed lineup and rotation, but still aren’t above .500 material.
Meanwhile, the Braves are much worse. They have some serious holes in the infield, despite acquiring Erick Aybar. Their pitching is worse, even more devastated despite signing minor league players Kyle Kendrick, Alexi Ogando and David Holmberg.
Chicago Cubs 96-66
St. Louis Cardinals 91-71
Pittsburgh Pirates 88-74
Cincinnati Reds 79-83
Milwaukee Brewers 65-97
The Cubs already had a good team last year with Kris Bryant and some other dominant young stars making it to the majors. This off season, the really stacked up. They already had Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, they inked John Lackey to a deal too. Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward also got deals in Chicago. This team now looks to be one of the most powerful MLB teams while still having a starting lineup that’s almost 50% MLB rookies or sophomores.
The Cardinals still have power in the division, but were fed on just like the 2014-15 Tigers were fed on by the Nationals. What I mean is that without any trades, one team is taking a lot of the Cardinals’ top 2015 free agents, that team is their division rival the Cubs. Their rotation is shorthanded without Lance Lynn and there outfield will miss Jason Heyward, Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos. Even Matt Holliday will hit free agency next season. However they have picked up Jedd Gyorko and Seung-Hwan Oh, and got some good insurance in Brandon Moss and Jonathan Broxton at the 2015 trade deadline. They also could still sign a big bat like Dexter Fowler, Austin Jackson or Ian Desmond.
The Pirates are clearly at loss after losing Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez, but with A.J. Burnett retiring, they stacked up on some pitchers. They acquired Jon Niese, A.J. Schugel and Kyle Lobstein, and signed Ryan Vogelsong. yet they still have thriving prospect Tyler Glasnow. Man, their pitching staff is stacked. They additionally signed slugger John Jaso. But in the end, compared to the Cards and Cubs, they aren’t too good.
The Reds even have some potential. I see potential in this rotation. Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen is who I think will make up the rotation. They could also sign a veteran like Tim Lincecum and let Finnegan or Lorenzen rest after Bailey’s return from Tommy John surgery. If not, Keyvius Sampson or John Lamb will have to start until then, unless Robert Stephenson is in the Opening Day rotation. This team also has some serious holes, and needs some better hitting from Billy Hamilton, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips. They desperately need a third baseman and an outfielder, and may have a ton of last minute signings if they don’t want to suck. Hey, maybe Scott Schebler takes the outfield, Jose Peraza platoons at third with Ivan DeJesus efficiently, and Homer Bailey comes back early and shines. Or they snag the older guys like Juan Uribe last minute.
The Brewers don’t look any better. Right now, Matt Garza and Wilin Peralta are their best pitchers, Will Smith is their closer, and they need some serious help in certain other positions. What are they going to do? Suck is what.
Los Angeles Dodgers 94-68
San Diego Padres 91-71
Arizona Diamondbacks 88-74
San Francisco Giants 84-78
Colorado Rockies 67-95
This division may surprise you a lot. The Giants put so much money into this off season, and they only go 84-78. The Padres have the season they were expecting a year ago. The D-Backs and Giants both miss the playoffs and are short of a 90-win season after acquiring or signing a combined four top 50 pitchers in the MLB, two apiece. The Dodgers still rule the division after all that drama. Finally, despite a strong rebuild, the Rockies still suck.
The Dodgers however also acquired some good pitchers in Kenta Maeda and Scott Kazmir. Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy will also return this season. They have a secure lineup with very few holes and a strong rotation.
But what happened to the even year luck in San Francisco? Pablo Sandoval brought it to Boston. Oh well, Giants, all that hard work and my Red Sox still get all the glory, with little to pay up at all.
The D-Backs are also looking better but do you honestly think they can win a division title with the lineup they have? Not happening.
MLB 2016 Postseason
Okay, okay, I might be getting a little carried away with the Padres doing so well, because the Cubs wouldn’t lose to them likely. Well here’s something I’ll throw at you, even though I have the Dodgers winning the World Series, I nearly considered the Nats to beat them in the NLDS. Bryce Harper is primed for a bigger breakout than even last year’s. I know I always overrate the Nats, and again, I could be wrong with the Nats even making the playoffs. The Mets could take their spot or San Diego’s. You may have actually noticed that I had the Sox over LA in the Animoto video, I was just showing my Red Sox fandom. But lets be honest here, the Dodgers rotation is by far better than the Red Sox’s. They also have a slight edge with their outfield.
Alright, now the AL. Again, I may be exaggerating with the White Sox, I did say the Tigers are ready to bounce back. Now I don’t have them winning a single playoff game. That’s up for debate. But especially if Chicago signs Ian Desmond, think about it. Jose Abreu, Brett Lawrie, Ian Desmond and Todd Frazier all in one infield. Not bad. I see potential for both sides. Again, Red Sox-Rangers could also be debatable, I just believe the Sox have a slight edge in the match-up and will simply win 3-2 in the ALDS. Besides that, I think I agree with my original instinct. What do you think?
Now its time to make my predictions for some MLB Awards in 2016.
Jose Bautista, RF, Blue Jays
This is just going to make Bautista way more valuable. Well, what’s my case? Bautista was injured for a good amount of 2015, and played through some of it. He had unsatisfactory results for much of the season. But 2016 is the year for Jose Bautista to bounce back. He didn’t have terrible results last year, but he definitely has room for improvement. When he gets heated up, he reaches MVP level.
Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, Michael Brantley, Carlos Beltran, Xander Bogaerts
Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
I almost considered Joey Votto for MVP, but I just think that his team won’t support his relevance well enough. But Harper, he’s ready to dominate. Harper is fresh off a breakout season, and the 23-year old superstar is ready for another one. I also have him winning a very special award, which I’ll surprise you with at the end.
Freddie Freeman, Joey Votto, Giancarlo Stanton, Adrian Gonzalez, Jason Heyward
AL Cy Young Award
David Price, Red Sox
Price has a seven year deal with the Red Sox, so he’s pressured to do amazing. Besides, there aren’t many other good choices. Cole Hamels, maybe Dallas Keuchel. Guys like that don’t match up to Price at his best, which he wasn’t last year. I don’t think Detroit was the right fit for Price. Boston or Toronto, that’s another story. Price is ready to dominate this year.
Cole Hamels, Dallas Keuchel, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Chris Archer, Yu Darvish
NL Cy Young Award
James Shields, Padres
You might say Jake Arrieta, Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke or Clayton Kershaw will win the NL Cy Young, but where’s the love for James Shields? Especially if the Padres have their long-awaited breakout year, Shields will be a legitimate competitor for the Cy Young. He put up stellar stats for the Royals, he just hasn’t really fit in to the Padres’ system, but I think he’s found a spot as their ace. He is ready to go back to all star form after only a subpar 2015.
Zack Greinke, Kenta Maeda, Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw
AL Rookie Of The Year
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
I’m not as big of a believer in Buxton as most people, but look at the other options in the AL. Byung-Ho Park is typically someone who would be too old to typically be a ro0kie. But Buxton really is a prospect, he’s a typical rookie, he plays like a young rookie. He’s actually one of the best at it in the AL, and I admire that. Plus, I have some serious issues underrating Buxton.
Byung-Ho Park, Sean Nolin, Blake Snell, Gary Sanchez, Dylan Bundy
NL Rookie Of The Year
Corey Seager, SS/3B, Dodgers
Unlike Buxton, I see off the charts potential for this guy. He’s the younger brother of a star third baseman in the league, and he proved himself byputting up great numbers while playing in the majors for the end of last season. There has been so much hype for this kid and I believe it. If there was one Rookie Of The Year for all of the MLB, it would be Seager all the way.
Steven Matz, Tyler Glasnow, Trayce Thompson, Jose Peraza
AL Comeback Player Of The Year
Yu Darvish, SP, Rangers
Darvish has spent nearly two full seasons on the DL. Two years before even that, he was a great new MLB pitcher fresh out of Japan’s best bunch. Darvish put up outstanding stats in 2012 and 2013. I know he’ll never be able to do that again, he’s too old and crippled, but can he at least return to All Star form? I am a firm believer in Darvish and I’d like to see him try.
Justin Verlander, Pablo Sandoval, Jarrod Parker, Desmond Jennings
NL Comeback Player Of The Year
Matt Kemp, OF, Padres
Kemp was a superstar with the Dodgers. He’s old, but if he can do the same in San Diego, that would greatly benefit them. Right now, he’s just a washed up outfielder forced to start. But as the season progresses, I think he has potential to put up some all star stats.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, Jon Niese, Travis Wood, Bartolo Colon
Triple Crown Award (NL)
Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
This is the big surprise we’ve been waiting for. Surprise, surprise, we have a Triple Crown winner! Guess who it is? Red hot, young Bryce Harper, already claiming the NL MVP. Harper is fresh of a long-awaited breakout and is ready to become an all time great in the MLB. A Triple Crown would really help his relevance, and I think he’s good enough to snag it at only age 23.
So that’s all for my MLB 2016 Preview. Comment with your thoughts.