Welcome to Part 2 of my 2nd annual MLB free agency predictions. Last off-season, things took a long time to get going due to a relatively dull free agent market. This year, that is not the case. We might have the best MLB free agent class in the history of my blog, and it’s bound to get going any minute now. That’s why I’m releasing my predictions in November and December this year rather than January. I wanted to get these out before the Winter Meetings, where a lot of big moves could occur.
Today, I will be sharing my predictions for free agent catchers and infielders, including Wilson Ramos, Josh Donaldson, and Manny Machado. Feel free to comment with your thoughts.
Below is my tentative schedule for my 2018-19 MLB free agency coverage.
Week of November 26 or December 3: MLB 2018-19 Free Agency Predictions: Outfielders & Trade Ideas
Week of December 3 or 10: Baseball Bits #11: Big Free Agent Contracts
Note: These predictions were made before Atlanta’s signings of Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann on November 26.
The Nationals signed C Kurt Suzuki this week, and the Mariners dealt off C Mike Zunino to Tampa Bay. That should cause the catcher market to keep moving quickly. The Angels need a catcher upgrade desperately. They will be in the market for top options Wilson Ramos and Jonathan Lucroy. The A’s will also look for a catcher after losing Lucroy. I could see them adding Ramos. I have Grandal returning to the Padres, where his career started. He will split time with C Austin Hedges. Wieters will head to Seattle. The Mariners are looking for a cheap option at catcher to support C David Freitas. I have the Marlins signing McCann after trading C J.T. Realmuto (I think he’s going to either Atlanta or Milwaukee). That leaves Devin Mesoraco, who will sign with the Phillies and split time with C Jorge Alfaro. The Mets will miss out in the catcher market and stick with Travis d’Arnaud at catcher.
Corner Infielders (Combined 1B and 3B due to shortage of options)
The Braves’ biggest hole is at third base. They are doing whatever it takes to add a top line third baseman to help their contention efforts. Donaldson is a great fit. I think the Yankees will pass on Manny Machado and use Didi Gregorius in the long term. But they will add 3B Mike Moustakas to give them flexibility in the infield, whether Gregorius is hurt or not.
The Marlins are looking for a cheap replacement for Justin Bour, and Duda is a strong fit. That will cause Matt Adams to return to St. Louis, and the Royals will add Logan Morrison with Duda signed. The Orioles do need free agent help, but they will look for bargains. Valbuena could be a good bargain signing. He can provide support at second and third.
The Twins are in it to win it, and reuniting with Dozier after a deadline deal will help fill one of their biggest holes: middle infield. They may need a shortstop next to Dozier. I also have LeMahieu returning to Colorado. If the Rockies part ways with LeMahieu, they may have a hard time finding a replacement. They definitely need a second baseman, and LeMahieu is the best fit. I have Murphy heading to the A’s, who will be able to afford him. It was a down year for Murphy, and it could make for a bargain signing for a small market team with a hole at second like Oakland. That leaves Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie, and Logan Forsythe as the top 2B options remaining. The Angels will sign Cabrera as an upgrade over Ian Kinsler. Lowrie and Forsythe could be afforded by rebuilding/small market teams like the Tigers and Rays. The Tigers desperately need middle infield help. They will look for bargains as they find their free agents.
Whoever signs Machado will need to offer a lot, and the Phillies have enough to sign Machado with money to spare for Mike Trout or another big free agent in a couple years. The Phillies are ready to make the jump to contention, and Machado plus some cheaper free agents might be enough to do it. The Twins will add Mercer to support Dozier, and Alcides Escobar will go to the Padres, who will seek veterans as insurance for their younger players. That leaves guys like Adeiny Hechavarria, Jose Iglesias, and Freddy Galvis for rebuilding teams. I have the Royals adding Hechavarria as another infield option, the Tigers reuniting with Iglesias, and the Marlins adding Galvis to support the young J.T. Riddle.
That’s all for today’s predictions. Stay tuned for Part 3, where I will predict where the top outfielders and designated hitters sign. I will also add some ideas for trades. Unlike others, I do not have many big stars being traded, but I could see some smaller trades occuring.
It is that time of year again.Although I had to delay this article due to the excruciatingly quiet start to the off-season, my MLB Predictions are here.Read below to find out my thoughts on who will win the World Series and how they’ll get there.I will also be predicting who wins the major MLB awards.Let’s get started with my projected regular season standings.
Note: These Predictions are based on potential, but do account for the lack of real FA signings
New York Yankees 96-66 (#1 seed AL)
Boston Red Sox 92-70 (#4 seed AL)
Toronto Blue Jays 76-86
Baltimore Orioles 73-89
Tampa Bay Rays 70-92
The Bronx Bombers are back.With Giancarlo Stanton on board, the Yankees have last year’s top two home run hitters in their lineup.They could have a historic home run duo going.Stanton and Judge will be surrounded by other big hitters, young players full of potential, and a respectable rotation.
But the Red Sox will challenge them after signing the #3 HR hitter of 2017 in J.D. Martinez.After a long game of chicken, they finally agreed to terms on a deal on February 19th.The Sox also brought back super utility Eduardo Nunez, who will start at second until Dustin Pedroia returns in mid-April.Martinez, Nunez and the Killer B’s will lead the Sox to be elite contenders and compete with the Yankees. In addition, ace Chris Sale leads a strong Red Sox rotation, one thing Boston has on the Yankees.Sale, Pomeranz, and Porcello have led Boston’s rotation to outpitch the Yanks. I will have an extended spring preview for the Sox coming soon, where I will try and answer some of the team’s biggest questions headed into 2018.
The rest of the division is in rebuild mode, and the Red Sox and Yankees will feed on them, while the two of them compete against each other.The Blue Jays have revamped their roster with lower tier free agents and younger players who will lead the new era of the team.Meanwhile, the Orioles have rotation turnover issues after they lost multiple starters to free agency.They signed two starters, but they still have rotation problems, and their lineup is still good, but it’s no longer All-Star material.Meanwhile, the Rays have completely remodeled their roster after trading away Evan Longoria, Jake Odorizzi, and Corey Dickerson.They will be led by young talent on their new look roster. Although the other teams in this division look intriguing, Red Sox and Yankees are the only teams that I would consider playoff contenders in the AL East.
Cleveland Indians 92-70 (#3 seed AL)
Minnesota Twins 87-75
Kansas City Royals 73-89
Detroit Tigers 69-93
Chicago White Sox 66-96
The Indians are still the clear favorite. They may have lost key pieces in Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce, but they made up for it by signing 1B Yonder Alonso, 1B/DH Mike Napoli, OF Melvin Upton Jr. and OF Rajai Davis. Young outfielder Bradley Zimmer is also in the running for a starting outfield job.
That doesn’t mean the Twins won’t contend though. They upgraded a roster that was already strong this off-season, by signing Logan Morrison and relievers Fernando Rodney and Addison Reed as well as acquiring Jake Odorizzi from Tampa Bay. They also signed Michael Pineda, who may return from Tommy John surgery later this year. The Twins are setting themselves up to return to the playoffs, but they’ll have competition in the wild card race, with the Red Sox and Angels also contending.
The rest of this division will fail to contend. The Royals lost their core players in Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and Lorenzo Cain and that has led them to rebuild. The Tigers are heading into a rebuild of their own after their older team struggled in early 2017. However, their roster appears to be falling into place, for the most part. They could use another infielder in the mix. After trading away J.D. Martinez last year and trading Ian Kinsler in the off-season, the Tigers are headed in the right direction, focusing on their future. The White Sox will rely on their young talent after rebuilding in 2017. They are hoping that their top prospects, Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez, can make an impact at the major league level as well as prospects that cracked the majors last year. The Indians are the clear favorites here, but the Twins could also contend, and do not be surprised if one of the three rebuilding squads in the division begins contending quicker than expected.
Houston Astros 95-67 (#2 seed AL)
Los Angeles Angels 88-74 (#5 seed AL)
Seattle Mariners 83-79
Texas Rangers 74-88
Oakland Athletics 68-94
The Astros are still the clear favorites here. They’ve only gotten better since last year’s World Series win, so if they have any hangover, it will only affect them early on, and won’t hit them that hard, similar to what happened to the Cubs last season. A full season of Justin Verlander and the acquisition of Gerrit Cole will make their rotation unstoppable, and their lineup is still just as good, as prospects will fill in for what they lost in Carlos Beltran, who retired.
The Angels will also compete though. They arguably have one of the best lineups in the league after adding Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart as well as resigning Justin Upton. Although the rotation is not dominant, the new two-way Japanese star in Shohei Ohtani will help them improve, and hopefully, the injury bug will not hit them as hard this year. The Mariners will also have a decent year, but they are relying on Dee Gordon to make a smooth transition to the outfield, and the rest of their outfield doesn’t look great.
In addition, it will be hard to contend with inexperienced players occupying several starting jobs. The Rangers aren’t going to be terrible either, but some of their best players like Adrian Beltre are getting old, and not all of their younger players will be able to succeed at the major league level this year. I like their intriguing off-season, but unless they break out with what they have, it might be time for the Rangers to consider a rebuild. The Athletics are hoping that they can start moving in an upward direction after their own rebuild, but I think their young players need another season or two to develop before the A’s get ready for contention again. This year will focus on the development of their young guns like Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton, and Andrew Triggs among others. In the end, look for the Astros to repeat here and the Angels to make a run at a wild-card spot.
Washington Nationals 97-65 (#1 seed NL)
New York Mets 86-76
Atlanta Braves 78-84
Philadelphia Phillies 71-91
Miami Marlins 64-98
After the Nationals cruised into the NLDS in a weak NL East in 2017, I do expect Washington to repeat. But other teams in the division will start to make strides toward contention. At one point, I thought this might be the year that the Marlins pounce to the top of the division, but instead, they decided to rebuild early, dealing away all three of their starting outfielders (Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna) plus 2B Dee Gordon. Now they might very well be the MLB’s worst team on paper.
But the Mets, Braves, and Phillies are moving in an upward direction. If they can stay healthy, the Mets added several key pieces that could lead them back to contention. I think they are close to playoff material, but not quite there yet. The Braves look ready to break out at any moment, but I don’t know if their breakthrough will come in 2018. But I definitely think they will improve this season. The Phillies may not be ready for contention yet, but this young team is setting themselves up for success. If they continue to boost their young roster with veterans over the next couple years, we may see them return to the playoffs.
Despite the rest of the division’s effort to contend, the Nats are still the #1 team here, and they are a World Series contender. In his contract year, Bryce Harper will lead a powerful Nationals lineup, and their rotation might just need one more strong starter such as Jake Arrieta to lead the Nats deeper into the playoffs. With many of their stars hitting the open market soon, it will be World Series or bust in 2018 for Washington.
Chicago Cubs 92-70 (#3 seed NL)
St. Louis Cardinals 90-72 (#4 seed NL)
Milwaukee Brewers 87-75
Cincinnati Reds 79-83
Pittsburgh Pirates 67-95
If I had to name one division that improved the most this off-season, I would say the NL Central without hesitation. Despite losing SP John Lackey to free agency, the Cubs continued to improve this off-season with the signing of pitchers Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood, and Drew Smyly (may return late in 2018). They are a significant World Series contender. But the division will not be easy to win as the Cardinals and Brewers have also improved.
St. Louis signed Miles Mikolas in his return to the MLB but may need to add another starter for rotational depth. They may even try and snag closer Greg Holland or 3B Mike Moustakas before Opening Day. They also acquired OF Marcell Ozuna from Miami. They will contend this year, and so will the Brewers, who despite the desperate need for a #1 starter, will be significantly better in 2018 after signing Lorenzo Cain and acquiring Christian Yelich to improve their outfield and make it dominant. They may want to resign Neil Walker before Opening Day if they really care about winning now. Unless they sign a pitcher or a middle infielder, I don’t see them as a lock for the playoffs, but they will contend.
The Reds could also contend soon, but it will take another year or so for the lineup to become playoff material and the young rotation to improve. Meanwhile, the Pirates have begun rebuilding after trading away OF Andrew McCutchen and SP Gerrit Cole. They will not contend this year due to their rebuilding intentions as well as a serious depth problem and lack of a leader in their starting rotation. Although Cincy and Pittsburgh won’t be in the playoff race, this strong division will be competitive as its top three teams battle for playoff berths.
Los Angeles Dodgers 95-67 (#2 seed NL)
Colorado Rockies 88-74 (#5 seed NL)
Arizona Diamondbacks 87-75
San Francisco Giants 85-77
San Diego Padres 69-93
Although the NL Central improved the most this off-season, the NL West is still the MLB’s strongest division. This year, I think that four teams in this division will finish with a winning record, and two will make the playoffs. The Dodgers will stay on top here. They have managed to keep most of the players that helped them succeed in 2017, although their rotation doesn’t have the same kind of depth that it used to. They didn’t need 7-8 viable starters on the roster though. No team in this division has gained significantly on the Dodgers, but other teams in the division have improved.
This could be the year for the Rockies. Their lineup will dominate, and their young rotation should continue to improve. The rotation is also aided by a strong bullpen that will be led by new closer Wade Davis. The D-Backs have added outfield depth after J.D. Martinez’s departure for Boston, and they will continue to contend in 2018, although I don’t think they will quite make it this time around, as the Cardinals and Brewers have gotten better and could grab a wild card.
The Giants have also improved after acquiring Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, but after a 64-98 season, I find it hard to believe that even year luck alone will lead them back to the playoffs. They still have rotation depth problems behind their top three starters and aside from Cutch, Longo, Buster Posey, and Hunter Pence, this lineup isn’t overly intriguing. Even the Padres will improve. Some of their top prospects have cracked the majors, and they have brought back Chase Headley and Tyson Ross in addition to acquiring Freddy Galvis. Their biggest move of the off-season was signing 1B Eric Hosmer. He will be a veteran mentor for this young team and allows Wil Myers to assist the young outfield. The Dodgers are the clear favorites here, but this division is hard to predict beyond that.
Now for my playoff predictions.
As you all know, I am an avid Boston sports fan. But as an unbiased reporter, I don’t think the Red Sox have the edge on the Yankees this year. The Bronx Bombers just have too powerful of a lineup, and despite the fact that Boston has one of the best rotations in the MLB and signed a home run hitter of their own in J.D. Martinez, it’s just not enough to compete with the “Evil Empire” in New York. The Sox will win over the Angels in the Wild Card round though. The Angels may have a powerful lineup, but they are nothing like the Yankees, and rotation problems will hold them back. I have the Yankees advancing to the World Series, but only to be defeated by the motivated Washington Nationals. Like I said, it’s World Series or bust in Washington, and I think this year’s Nats are legitimate contenders.
In the AL, the Astros will come close to a World Series return, but even their dominant rotation will struggle against the Yankees lineup. The Astros will top a well rounded Indians team. The Indians look good this year but will have a hard time competing with this strong Astros team. Jose Altuve (who I could see having another MVP caliber year), George Springer, and Justin Verlander among others will lead Houston to the ALCS.
In the NL, the Dodgers will also come close to a World Series return after beating the Cubs somewhat easily in the NLDS. But they will struggle against a strong Nats rotation, and even Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw could have a hard time against Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, and the improved Nats lineup. The Cardinals will also fall to the Nats. Their younger rotation will struggle on the big stage, and their lineup isn’t fierce enough this year to stop the strong Nats rotation, despite the powerful pieces they have in Dexter Fowler, Marcell Ozuna, and Matt Carpenter among others.
The Cards do have the edge in the Wild Card round though, as their lineup will overwhelm young Rockies ace Jon Gray. In the end, the Nats will dominate this side of the bracket and go on to win the World Series. The window is closing for the Nats to win a title with Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and company. But 2018 is their final shot at a World Series win in this era, and they will be driven by this fact.
To much to take in? My video summary of this post will be on YouTube soon. I will post the link on my blog when it is up.
Below I have listed my Top 3 picks for each major MLB award.
Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU – After winning this award last year, I could see Altuve repeating his 2017 dominance. He is one of my favorite non-Red Sox players and he has emerged as a star and leader on the Astros.
Giancarlo Stanton, OF, NYY – On his new team, not only will Stanton pair up with Aaron Judge to create one of the best HR duos of all time, but also put up a strong average and hit not only for power but also for consistency
Mike Trout, OF, LAA – Trout is always a candidate for this award, and although injuries held him back a bit in 2017, he will remain an elite contender for this award in 2018
Honorable Mention: Justin Upton, OF, LAA
Bryce Harper, OF, WSH – Another one of my non-Red Sox favorites. In a contract year, Harper will go from elite player to future Hall Of Famer in an all-around dominant season
Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL – With the Rockies back in playoff contention, Arenado will play at MVP level in 2018, leading the strong Rockies lineup to continued success
Joey Votto, 1B, CIN – I think Votto will also emerge as an MVP caliber player this year as he continues to put up great numbers despite the fact that he is older than many other all-star level players.
Honorable Mention: Eric Hosmer, 1B, SD
AL Cy Young
Chris Sale, BOS – I think Sale will repeat the success he had early in 2017 with the Red Sox, and he is my pick to win the Cy Young.
Justin Verlander, HOU – Verlander will emerge as a leader in the strong Astros rotation in another deep playoff run for the Astros. He will be Sale’s #1 competitor for the Cy Young in 2018.
Carlos Carrasco, CLE – I could see Carrasco returning to his dominant 2015 form this year and creating a dynamic duo in the rotation alongside Corey Kluber.
Honorable Mention: Corey Kluber, CLE
NL Cy Young
Stephen Strasburg, WSH – Strasburg already returned to the ace level last year with an ERA around 2.50, and I think he could keep it up in 2018 and make a significant run at a Cy Young award.
Yu Darvish, CHC – Chicago is a great fit for Darvish, and I could see him thriving in Chicago and running at a Cy Young.
Clayton Kershaw, LAD – Kershaw is always a candidate for this award much like Trout is for the MVP. He will continue to succeed in 2018.
Honorable Mention: Max Scherzer, WSH*
* For those of you who read my latest free agency article, you would know I think Alex Cobb is going to the Brewers. If he signs in Milwaukee, he could be a significant candidate to battle for a Cy Young award.
AL Rookie of the Year
Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, LAA – Who else would I put at the top of this list? This two-way phenom is practically a lock to make the Angels roster despite the fact that he is a rookie non-roster invitee.
Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU – I think Tucker could have a significant role at the major league level in 2018. He will compete for a starting outfield job when he comes up. He is the brother of former Astros outfielder Preston Tucker.
Hunter Dozier, 3B, KC – I think Dozier can make an impact at the major league level, even with Lucas Duda in line to start at first. I see Dozier as Kansas City’s starting third baseman as long as he is successful early in the season, and I see potential in him.
Honorable Mention: Christian Arroyo, 3B, TB
NL Rookie of the Year
Jesse Winker, OF, CIN – I think Winker will breakout this year as he establishes himself as a starter at the major league level. He will compete for the Rookie of the Year award.
Ronald Acuna, OF, ATL – Once Acuna cracks the majors, he has the chance to become a starter in left field, and once that happens, I see the potential for him to be great.
Ryan McMahon, 1B, COL – With Ian Desmond headed back to the outfield and Mark Reynolds in the open market, there’s an open spot for McMahon at first base. If they resign Reynolds, they could work out some sort of platoon, but either way, I think McMahon has the potential for success in the majors this year.
Honorable Mentions: Alex Reyes, SP, STL and Victor Robles, OF, WSH
That’s all for my MLB 2018 Predictions. Stay tuned for more baseball articles including my spring power rankings, my Red Sox 2018 season preview, and my 2nd annual preseason Baseball Bits article.
With Eric Hosmer, Yu Darvish and J.D. Martinez finally signed, the free agent market is heating up. As an MLB fan, it was just painful to see the lack of action that occurred for much of the off-season. From the end of December to the 2nd week of February, the free agent market was nearly silent. But once Spring Training started, it served as a wake-up call to the MLB teams who continued to wait on signing the free agents they were targeting. It’s free agency that keeps me following baseball during the off-season, so I’m glad that it’s finally getting going.
The only MLB news during those quiet weeks was rumors and predictions as to where these free agents would sign. The FA market may be in action, but there are still many high profile free agents out there, and I would be surprised if they are not signed by the start of the regular season. It’s still crazy that we’re talking about this on the first day of Grapefruit and Cactus League action.
Below I have listed the Top 15 remaining free agents and predicted where they will sign:
1. Jake Arrieta
2017 Team: Chicago Cubs
Original Prediction: Baltimore Orioles, 4 years, $92 million
Revised Prediction: Washington Nationals, 3 years, $63 million
Now that the Orioles have signed Chris Tillman and Andrew Cashner, they do not seem to be in the market for a high profile starter anymore, although they may sign another lower tier pitcher for the #5 spot. Their rotation looks a little more respectable now between Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy and Cashner. Mike Wright, Miguel Castro and Alec Asher among others will compete for the #5 spot unless another starter is signed.
The Brewers appear to be the top suitor for Arrieta, but the Nats, Phillies and Twins have also shown interest. Although Washington’s rotation is already led by Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, Arrieta would be a good fit as the Nats have struggled to find a 5th starter. Many of Washington’s stars also share an agent with Arrieta. If Arrieta signs here, then Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark would line up as #4 and #5 starters, while Strasburg, Scherzer, and Arrieta could potentially go on to become one of the best rotation trios in the MLB. As for the Brewers, I think Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn would be a better fit for them.
2. Mike Moustakas
2017 Team: Kansas City Royals
Original Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals, 3 years, $54 million
Revised Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals, 3 years, $54 million
I’m standing by my original prediction here. I honestly think St. Louis is the best fit for Moose, although the Braves, White Sox or Yankees may be more likely to sign him. Of those four teams, I think the Cardinals and Braves are the most likely to sign a third baseman before Opening Day. The White Sox have plenty of depth in their infield, they were just considering a veteran third baseman to aid their rebuild. The Braves are also rebuilding, but they don’t have the same kind of infield depth, and I don’t know if Rio Ruiz or Johan Camargo are viable big league starters yet.
Meanwhile, the Yankees could use an upgrade, but seem satisfied with Miguel Andujar and Brandon Drury among others for 3B options. The Cardinals will sign Moose in order to give themselves more options in the infield. Rather than forcing Jedd Gyorko into the starting third base job, they can let Gyorko share time with Kolten Wong and Paul DeJong in the middle infield.
3. Alex Cobb
2017 Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Original Prediction: Chicago White Sox, 3 years, $42 million
Revised Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers, 4 years, $68 million
I had Cobb going to Chicago as a veteran influence who would let younger starters take more time to develop before jumping into the White Sox starting five. But with Yu Darvish signed, there are other teams that appear to want him more, such as the Brewers and Twins. I think he’s more likely to go Milwaukee than a rebuilding team. The Brewers would pay him more money, and he would be a leader to an improving rotation on a contending team. I’m sure Alex Cobb wants to sign with a winner if he can. The Brewers have the tools to contend, but need to add a #1 starter, and I think Cobb is capable of living up to Milwaukee’s expectations.
Now that the Twins acquired Jake Odorizzi before Milwaukee could, the Brewers have two options. They can try and get Cleveland to give them Danny Salazar in exchange for an outfielder or two (which the Indians could use), or they could sign a free agent pitcher. I think free agency is the safer option for the Brewers right now.
4. Lance Lynn
2017 Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Original Prediction: Miami Marlins, 2 years, $27 million
Revised Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies, 3 years, $45 million
The Phillies have a decent-looking roster after what I would call a successful rebuild. But in order to be a contender in coming years, it’s time to sign some veterans. Some of this can wait till next off-season, when the free agent class is much better than this year’s group, but if they even want to have a chance at landing top free agents next year, they need to start thinking about contention this year, starting by signing a high-tier starter to bolster their rotation. While they don’t need an ace just yet, Lynn would be a good fit as they could use a better #2 starter behind rising star Aaron Nola.
5. Greg Holland
2017 Team: Colorado Rockies
Original Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers, 5 years, $42.5 million
Revised Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals, 4 years, $40 million
Holland won’t be able to get as big of a contract now that he’s waited this long to sign, but I do think he will be the closer somewhere by Opening Day. Milwaukee’s late inning crew is all set now between Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel and Boone Logan among others. But St. Louis could use a late inning reliever to pair with Luke Gregerson, and Holland would be a great fit. In this case, Holland would be the full time closer with Gregerson shifting into the set up role.
6. Jonathan Lucroy
2017 Team: Colorado Rockies
Original Prediction: Los Angeles Angels, 5 years, $57 million
Revised Prediction: Los Angeles Angels, 2 years, $22 million
I’m standing by my prediction for where Lucroy signs, but I don’t think he can get a long term deal at this point in the off-season. In a couple of years, either Martin Maldonado or Carlos Perez will be ready to thrive as a starting catcher. Lucroy is a high-tier catcher, but it’s hard for any player to get a large contract at this point in the off-season, let alone a catcher. Lucroy will be a seasoned starter at catcher for the Angels, and he’ll make the lineup even stronger with his big bat.
7. Neil Walker
2017 Teams: New York Mets/Milwaukee Brewers
Original Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers, 4 years, $46 million
Revised Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers, 2 years, $23 million
Walker is in a similar situation to Lucroy here. I still think he’ll end up in the same place that I had originally thought, but his likelihood of a long-term deal decreases as the off-season progresses. The Brew Crew could use a second base upgrade beyond Jonathan Villar and Eric Sogard, especially if they want to contend. They know Walker after he spent the second half of 2017 in Milwaukee, and he’s still a good fit.
2017 Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Original Prediction: New York Mets, 2 years, $12 million
Revised Prediction: Kansas City Royals, 1 year, $7 million
There hasn’t been that much interest in free agent first baseman that aren’t named Eric Hosmer this off-season, which could leave Morrison and Lucas Duda without a team to begin 2018. But there are a few teams who could still use a first baseman, like the Royals, who lost out on Hosmer, Rockies, who may need another option aside from the young Ryan McMahon, Athletics, and Mariners, who could each use a veteran influence at first to rotate with their young first basemen. I see Morrison, arguably the best first baseman left, signing in Kansas City to help fill the hole that Hosmer left. Although the Royals are rebuilding, they don’t have many prospects ready on the right side of the infield. Most of their young infielders who are ready to start will either play shortstop or third base.
9. Jon Jay
2017 Team: Chicago Cubs
Original Prediction: Oakland Athletics, 2 years, $22 million
Revised Prediction: Texas Rangers, 2 years, $17 million
I don’t think he can still get a $22 million deal, and I don’t think he’s going to Oakland anymore. Now that the Athletics acquired DH Brandon Moss, they have another veteran in the mix and will not need Jay. The Rangers will be looking for an upgrade over or platoon mate for CF Delino DeShields, and Jay could play either of those roles. Although Willie Calhoun will be MLB ready soon, the Rangers could use another veteran like Jay as a placeholder.
10. Lucas Duda
2017 Teams: New York Mets/Tampa Bay Rays
Original Prediction: Oakland Athletics, 2 years, $15 million
Revised Prediction: Seattle Mariners, 2 years, $18 million
I reconsidered this prediction because I do not think the A’s necessarily need a first baseman with Matt Olson ready for a full time job, and if they sign one, they will not chase the best first basemen left in Morrison and Duda. The Mariners may need another option at first base with Ryon Healy injured. He won’t necessarily be ready for a full time job either, and that’s why I see Seattle giving Duda more money and a 2 year deal. They could go with their other 1B prospects, but I see Seattle signing Duda and giving other prospects more time to develop before competing with Healy at first.
11. Brandon Phillips
2017 Teams: Atlanta Braves/Los Angeles Angels
Original Prediction: Detroit Tigers, 2 years, $14 million
Revised Prediction: Detroit Tigers, 2 years, $14 million
I’m standing by my original prediction here. The Tigers are rebuilding, but they could use a veteran infielder in case Dixon Machado or Jeimer Candelario don’t live up to their expectations in the big leagues. I don’t think Detroit will sign both Phillips and J.J. Hardy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they sign one. Phillips is the better fit of the two on this rebuilding Detroit team. Phillips is capable of being a starter, so if they start him in 2018, Jose Iglesias, Machado and Candelario will work out some sort of rotation at shortstop and third since Nick Castellanos is going to start in the outfield this year. But I don’t think the Tigers will necessarily start Phillips every day, and they may throw him into that rotation if he is signed.
12. Carlos Gonzalez
2017 Team: Colorado Rockies
Original Prediction: Seattle Mariners, 3 years, $34.5 million
Revised Prediction: Seattle Mariners, 1 year, $9 million
CarGo did not have a strong year in 2017, and I don’t think he can get more than a 1 year contract at this point. CarGo may still have power hitting abilities, but no team would dare risk more than a 1 year contract on him. I still see him going to the Mariners. They don’t know how Dee Gordon will fare as an outfielder, and the rest of their outfielders are inexperienced, failing to prove themselves as everyday starters. Gonzalez can play right field in Seattle, with Gordon playing center and Mitch Haniger, Guillermo Heredia and Ben Gamel splitting time in left (and possibly playing in the place of Gordon or CarGo if they struggle).
13. Melky Cabrera
2017 Teams: Chicago White Sox/Kansas City Royals
Original Prediction: Atlanta Braves, 3 years, $42 million
Revised Prediction: Miami Marlins, 2 years, $17 million
The Braves could use a veteran outfielder to fill in until Ronald Acuna is ready, but I think they can manage with Lane Adams and Preston Tucker until he cracks the majors. You never know, he could win the Opening Day starting job in left field if he has a strong Spring Training. The Marlins need some veterans in their outfield until guys like Magneuris Sierra, Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison are ready for full time jobs. The Marlins traded away all three of last year’s outfield starters.
They got some outfielders back, but not all of them are ready to start. Cabrera, along with the recently signed Cameron Maybin will help out until they are ready. Although the Marlins only need veteran outfielders for a year or so, while Cabrera wants two years. He can play alongside the younger guys in 2019, and he can serve as a veteran mentor.
2017 Team: Los Angeles Angels
Original Prediction: Chicago White Sox, 3 years, $39 million
Revised Prediction: Atlanta Braves, 3 years, $27 million
The White Sox can probably manage with what they have at third between Yolmer Sanchez, Tyler Saladino and other prospects. But the Braves, another rebuilding team, are finally on the verge of contention. First, they’ll need a new third baseman after Adonis Garcia didn’t work out. Johan Camargo and Rio Ruiz will be considered, but I don’t know if they are ready for full time roles, so they may need to add a veteran in the hot corner. Escobar is a good fit. He’s not necessarily an everyday starter, so he can platoon with the Braves’ younger options at third.
2017 Teams: New York Yankees/Chicago White Sox/Houston Astros
Original Prediction: Pittsburgh Pirates, 4 years, $28 million
Revised Prediction: Pittsburgh Pirates, 2 years, $14 million
Clippard struggled last season with three different teams, so I do not think the Pirates will be willing to commit to a long term contract with Clippard. But I still think this is a good fit. The Pirates need more late inning relievers to support closer Felipe Rivero. Clippard may even be able to compete for the everyday closer job if he rebounds.
That’s all for this article. With some of the best free agents finally signed and Spring Training exhibition games around the corner, I will be posting more baseball articles soon, including my MLB Predictions, which will be out next week (I normally post them after the Super Bowl, but normally the Top free agents on the market are signed by then, so I had to wait until the market got going). I will also be posting my annual Ranking The Teams series, a detailed Red Sox Spring Training Preview, and a preseason Baseball Bits about new Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez. I will also be posting more March Madness and NFL off-season articles soon. Stay tuned.
Welcome to Part 2 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 catchers and infielders 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)
My Prediction: Baltimore Orioles, 2 years, $18 million
After the loss of Wellington Castillo to free agency, I could see another veteran catcher like Alex Avila sign here. They haven’t found the young catcher that will replace Matt Wieters yet, so for now, the O’s should try to replace him with experienced veterans like Avila.
My Prediction: Los Angeles Angels, 5 years, $57 million
Lucroy did well in his first and only year in Colorado, batting .265. Although Martin Maldonado was good in year one as a starter, it would be nice for the Angels to have a veteran catcher in their lineup, and Lucroy can hit although his average was a little low for him last year. I expect he’ll bounce back offensively and continue to do well defensively if he signs here.
My Prediction: Miami Marlins, 3 years, $16.5 million
The Marlins could also use a veteran catcher, but Montero will be the back-up for starting catcher J.T. Realmuto if the Marlins don’t trade Realmuto away. Montero hasn’t done as well in recent years, but he will thrive as the Marlins backup catcher.
My Prediction: Arizona Diamondbacks, 3 years, $24 million
The D-Backs are another team that needs a veteran catcher to start in front of either Jeff Mathis or John Ryan Murphy, whoever makes the roster. They could manage with those two, but if they want to contend, Ruiz will help them offensively and defensively.
My Prediction: Chicago Cubs, 2 years, $9 million
Young catcher Willson Contreras will start this year. But I think a veteran behind him in case he struggles in his 2nd full season as a starter would be helpful. Soto will do just that and will be a cheaper signing than guys like Carlos Ruiz, or even Alex Avila.
My Prediction: Oakland Athletics, 2 years, $15 million
The A’s could use a veteran to rotate with young 1B Matt Olson, and Duda seems like a good fit in Oakland. The former Met will also help bring some much-needed power to the lineup. Duda slashed 30 dingers in 2017 despite a lowly .217 batting average.
My Prediction: Colorado Rockies, 3 years, $33 million
Gonzalez is not in his prime anymore, and he’s not necessarily an everyday starter anymore either. But injuries held him back in 2017 and I do not think he’s done yet. He’ll spend his final few years with the Rockies, who could use another bat in a hitter-favorable ballpark. If he gets hurt or is slumping, they can just move OF Ian Desmond back to first and start young OF David Dahl.
My Prediction: San Diego Padres, 5 years, $68 million
I was originally thinking Hosmer would go to Boston, but instead of chasing after him, the Red Sox resigned Mitch Moreland and are going after J.D. Martinez. Although Martinez’s bat would help Boston, I don’t know exactly where he would fit into their scheme, especially with Moreland coming back. Otherwise, they could have either brought Hosmer in or put Martinez at DH and moved Hanley Ramirez to first full time. The Padres are a decent fit for Hosmer, even though his best fit was in Boston, in my opinion. Wil Myers can move back to the outfield, filling a hole they have out there, and Hosmer can play first. They could also use him to replace power hitter and 2B Yangervis Solarte in the lineup, who will likely be replaced in the field by either Cory Spangenberg or a prospect.
My Prediction: New York Mets, 2 years, $12 million
I do not feel that Dominic Smith is quite ready to start at first. For now, I have the Mets bringing in veteran first baseman Logan Morrison. Morrison, who slashed 38 dingers last year, will be a help in the lineup and in the field. Morrison will help the Mets try to return to their 2016 form. With the combination of a couple more veterans to finish off the lineup and the healthy return of the dominant Mets rotation, there’s a chance that they can make it happen.
My Prediction: Seattle Mariners, 2 years, $18 million
The Mariners could also use a veteran to share time with 1B Ryon Healy. Napoli is a little old to start every day so Healy will take over once he develops a little more. Maybe spending some time pinch-hitting or playing DH (Nelson Cruz would play RF) will help him eventually take over Napoli’s short-term role.
My Prediction: New York Mets, 2 years, $19 million
Nunez showed promise last year with the Giants and Red Sox, but can he be trusted as the everyday starter for the Mets if they sign him? The Mets do have 2B Wilmer Flores if he’s not ready to be part of their everyday scheme. Flores may be needed at third if they cannot find another back up for the injured David Wright, but if they can find a backup there, Nunez could be an intriguing signing.
My Prediction: New York Yankees, 3 years, $16.5 million
Peterson batted just .215 last year with just 2 dingers. He did lose at-bats last year due to struggles and the signing of 2B Brandon Phillips, our next free agent in this article. Whoever signs him will be hoping he develops into a better hitter next year. As a utility, he is good in the field, but the Yankees will be looking for a guy who can hit to play second. If Peterson fails, they could consider a trade in the off-season or regular season. I think 2B Robinson Cano might even be someone good to try and retain from Seattle.
My Prediction: Detroit Tigers, 2 years, $14 million
Phillips still has something left in the tank as he showed with 13 dingers, 60 RBI and a .285 average in almost 600 at-bats. The Tigers could use a couple more veteran leaders in the midst of a rebuild, and Phillips is a good fit here and should be one of them.
My Prediction: Cincinnati Reds, 2 years, $13 million
Utley is not necessarily a starter here, just a veteran influence who will share time with fellow middle infielders Jose Peraza and Scooter Gennett. I do think the Reds could use another veteran in addition to Utley, but they could probably find one in the trade market.
My Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers, 4 years, $46 million
Walker looked good in Milwaukee, and I think this is a great fit. Walker should be signed to a long-term deal in Milwaukee as they begin a run for the playoffs. They could use the veteran leader in the middle infield in addition to 2B Jonathan Villar and young SS Orlando Arcia.
My Prediction: Baltimore Orioles, 2 years, $14 million
Aviles is another veteran shortstop who has declined, but the Orioles need a shortstop starter fast. I don’t expect them to chase after a top dog SS like Alcides Escobar, or even trade for SS Xander Bogaerts. But a short-term signing like Aviles might be reasonable, and they might even want to re-sign Ryan Flaherty to platoon with him.
My Prediction: Miami Marlins, 1 year, $5.5 million
Aybar is not an elite shortstop anymore, but he could be a good addition to Miami as a backup to SS J.T. Riddle, or potentially a short-term starter if Riddle is not ready yet. He will have a similar role to what he did in San Diego, but with even less time as the #1 guy at shortstop. Aybar’s career went downhill since he was traded to Atlanta prior to 2016, and don’t expect him to return to his 2015 form all the sudden.
My Prediction: Washington Nationals, 2 years, $13 million
Drew did well as a backup for Trea Turner last year in Washington, but didn’t get that many appearances. I see him returning to the Nats in a similar role, but this time he will back up at multiple positions in the infield as he takes on more of a utility role. The Nationals could use backup in other infield spots as well, and Drew will help take care of that.
My Prediction: Kansas City Royals, 3 years, $46.5 million
I doubt the Royals will resign all the guys they lost in free agency this year, like 1B Eric Hosmer, OF Lorenzo Cain and 3B Mike Moustakas. But Escobar would be a good veteran influence going into the new era in Kansas City. I know Raul Mondesi may be ambitious to start, but he can probably platoon somewhere in the infield and eventually take over for Escobar before this contract expires. Hosmer could also do this job if he’s left around, but they’ll only sign one. Besides, for the most part, it’s time for a rebuild. Maybe they’ll sign a couple more infield veterans just to back up for the rookies too.
My Prediction: Detroit Tigers, 3 years, $36 million
Hardy’s time in Baltimore might finally be over. I see him heading to Detroit as another veteran influence to play alongside Brandon Phillips. Don’t be fooled and think they could go for a playoff run after signing Phillips and Hardy. Phillips and Hardy will not start all the time, and they need to develop their prospects eventually. According to Al Avila, it’s time, as he already traded away guys like OF J.D. Martinez, who is now a free agent.
My Prediction: Chicago White Sox, 3 years, $39 million
After a strong 2017 season, I think Escobar still has something left in the tank, even at age 35. He is not an expensive purchase anymore though as he gets closer to retirement age. I see Escobar signing in Chicago, where they could use a veteran at third as they cope with a rebuild and need some veteran influences. Escobar will be one of them, and even with Escobar starting at third, at least this year, Yolmer Sanchez, Yoan Moncada, Tyler Saladino and Tim Anderson will still all get significant time on the field.
My Prediction: New York Yankees, 4 years, $56 million
I thought Frazier was a great fit in a Yankees uniform, and he thrived with the Yankees after getting off to a rough start to the season in Chicago. After being dealt to New York, he improved. Now that the Yanks traded 3B Chase Headley back to where they got him in San Diego, they need a full-time third baseman, and if Frazier can keep up what he had in New York last year, he could be the man for the job.
My Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals, 3 years, $54 million
St. Louis would be a great fit for both 1B Eric Hosmer and 3B Mike Moustakas, but they will only sign one as they have Matt Carpenter to play whatever infield position they cannot fill. The middle infield is all set between Jedd Gyorko, Paul DeJong, and Kolten Wong. But they could use a veteran 1B or 3B after the recent departures of both Aldemys Diaz and Matt Adams. I believe Moose can thrive here, but the Cardinals will have to be willing to give him a good-sized contract. Matt Carpenter will stay at first will Moose starts at third like he did in Kansas City.
My Prediction: Kansas City Royals, 2 years, $16 million
Plouffe is not necessarily a starter here, but it will be nice to have a backup if 3B Hunter Dozier or INF Cheslor Cuthbert turns out to flop. Plouffe will also serve the role of another veteran influence alongside SS Alcides Escobar, OF Alex Gordon, and most of the Royals strong rotation. This is not a long term signing though as I am sure someone will secure the starting job within the next one or two years.
My Prediction: New York Mets, 2 years, $18 million
Reyes will fill in while 3B David Wright recovers from back surgery. I’m thinking some sort of platoon could start when Wright returns, especially if Wright is not quite himself after surgery.
That’s all for Part 2 of my free agent predictions. Stay tuned for Part 3, where I discuss outfielders in the market, and potential trade ideas for teams across the league.
Each year since 2014, David Schoenfield has ranked all 30 teams in tiers during the preseason. For the third year straight, I am creating my own version. I am out of school this week, so throughout the week, I will be posting my rankings. Today they start with the bottom 6.
30. Minnesota Twins
In the process of a rebuild, the Twins let older players Kurt Suzuki and Trevor Plouffe sign elsewhere in free agency. However, they also lost young pitcher Tommy Milone. They signed veterans Jason Castro, J.B. Shuck and Ryan Vogelsong. These guys are nice veteran boosters and mentors, but are unnecessary signings. The young Minnesota Twins just need a little time to develop before coming back to contention.
The Case for the Twins
The Twins will not contend in any way this year. They are in the midst of a rebuild, and actually have a bright future ahead. The Tigers and Royals will get old and decline which will leave room open for the Twins in coming years. For now, they need to focus on establishing their young players, and wins and losses will not matter for them this year. But in coming years, look for the Twins to finally get better.
The Bright Spot
Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier are getting older, and I’m liking the young talent on the Twins. The younger players they have will do well this year, and eventually bring the team up with them. Third year player Miguel Sano is one guy who could make an impact. He will take a full time job at third base in 2017, and will be a bigger contributor to the lineup. He could be a team leader in the future. Byron Buxton is another player to keep an eye on. Despite a disappointing 2016 for both of them, 2017 should be a good year for Buxton and Sano.
Best Case Scenario: The Twins surprise many, as their young guns bounce back and lead the Twins to a second place finish in the AL Central.
Worst Case Scenario: Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano continue to regress and the Twins finish with the worst record in baseball.
Projected Finish: 63-99, 5th in AL Central
29. San Diego Padres
The Padres didn’t do much in the off-season. After losing veterans they shouldn’t have spent their money on, the Padres are at a desperate state. They will not compete this season, so it’s time for a rebuild. They did sign veteran Erick Aybar to a minor league deal, but he’s no more than a veteran mentor, and will not lead the Padres to contend. The Padres will focus on building upon their young roster, and if they did that a couple of years back, they might of had a legitimate chance this year.
The Case for the Padres
The Padres may be at their worst ever. While building a young roster, they will not compete this season. None of their starting pitchers are very established yet, and the lineup has some bright spots, but needs work. This rebuild could take a long time, but it’s worth it. If the Padres tried to go for it this season, the end result would be the biggest MLB failure in a long time.
The Bright Spot
One investment from a couple of years ago that was worth it was the signing of Wil Myers. Myers has done well for the Padres, and him, Yangervis Solarte and Erick Aybar make up a nice infield of veterans to teach the younger players. Myers will actually put up some impressive stats in 2017. In 2016, he was a Home Run Derby participant and All Star. Myers will continue to put up good numbers in 2017, and he will make the Padres look just a tiny bit better.
Best Case Scenario: Wil Myers boosts the lineup, and the young rotation breaks through as the Padres finish just under .500.
Worst Case Scenario: The Padres have their worst season in history, the young players struggle at the major league level, and the Padres barely endure a dismal season.
Projected Finish: 63-99, 5th in NL West
28. Oakland Athletics
The Athletics weren’t quite as active as they usually are this off-season, but they did fine-tune their team. They aren’t anywhere near contending, but adding some depth with experienced players will at least prevent disaster in 2017. Rajai Davis recently came back to Oakland. Alejandro De Aza, Ross Detwiler and Jaff Decker were invited to spring training among other veterans. They also signed young third baseman Trevor Plouffe. They filled most of their major off-season needs, and that will help them despite other problems.
The Case for the Athletics
The A’s have a nice mix of veterans and younger players. Once their prospects develop, this will benefit them and they will thrive. But that might not happen for a while, and right now, they’re just going to be considered an old team that won’t contend. If they rebuild a little, maybe they’ll season their young players more and see more success soon. But whether they rebuild or stay put, the Athletics aren’t going to have a winning season.
The Bright Spot
Khris Davis was acquired from Milwaukee in the 2015-16 off-season, and since joining the Athletics, he has been their best hitter, and has been a bright spot on the Athletics by putting up impressive stats. Davis was a home run hitter in 2016, with 42 dingers. He drove in 102 runs and got a career best 137 hits. The 42 dingers, also his career best, were enough to tie Edwin Encarnacion and Brian Dozier for 3rd in the MLB. Encarnacion and Dozier are team leading stars, and Davis may be developing to be just that. Davis had more home runs than the Rockies’ star third baseman Nolan Arenado! I also think starting pitcher Sonny Gray could look good in a bounce back year, but Davis is the safest bet.
Best Case Scenario: The rotation bounces back, the lineup finally finds a way to do strongly and the A’s attempt to return to the playoffs.
Worst Case Scenario: The injury bug hits Oakland at its hardest, and the Athletics finish terribly, with one of the worst records.
Projected Finish: 65-97, 5th in AL West
27. Philadelphia Phillies
Off-season in Review
The Phillies have finally established a young roster, but it will take a couple years to return to stardom. The rotation still needs work but they added some veteran mentors/big hitters to help their case. They acquired starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, and added Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders to the lineup. Now, with veteran mentors to help a young, talented roster, the Phillies could be back to contention a couple of years from now.
The Case for the Phillies
The era of washed up, old Phillies is over. Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ben Revere, John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown are all gone. Now, it’s time for the young guns to take over this team. This puts this year’s team pretty low in the rankings. However, don’t be surprised if the Phillies are the next surprise wild card in 2018. These young players are very talented, and once they’re developed, which will happen over the next year or two, the Phillies will be good once again.
The Bright Spot
Putting the older guys aside, there are a few talented young guns that have already broke out. Odubel Herrera, Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco are already doing strongly. Franco is the Phillies’ bright spot. He is keeping this lineup alive. In a couple of years, Franco could be a superstar. The new environment in Philly leaves him with an important role in the lineup, and I think he will come through in that role.
Best Case Scenario: The Phillies return to contention with an impressive season by a lot of young players.
Worst Case Scenario: The Phillies fail again, and the young guns go full bust.
Projected Finish: 65-97, 5th in NL East
26. Atlanta Braves
The Braves are in the midst of a rebuild. The starting rotation is getting old after they added Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey, but the older players are still good. The lineup also includes veteran mentor Matt Kemp. The rest of it consists of young stars and players ready to breakout. Dansby Swanson is the favorite for the NL Rookie of The Year, Freddie Freeman continues to shine, Nick Markakis has done alright in Atlanta, and new acquisitions Brandon Phillips and Kurt Suzuki will help this team improve.
The Case for the Braves
The Braves won’t compete this season, but they’ve put together a nice mix of old and young that could do well in the future. The pitching staff still needs to develop and be fine-tuned, but the lineup is looking better, and could be a lot more powerful this year and in future years. The Braves currently lack depth, but once more prospects break the majors, the Braves could have some of the best hitting in the MLB, with a strong lineup led by Freddie Freeman.
The Bright Spot
Some of the older players provide power to the lineup, but younger players Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson make the Braves a little more fun to watch. Freeman really broke out last year, with a stellar performance especially in the 2nd half. Freeman had already established himself as a franchise player, but he really went all out in 2o16. Swanson has a potentially great rookie season ahead of him. The Braves have opened up a spot at shortstop for him, and Swanson will take advantage of that.
Best Case Scenario: The rotation finally gathers itself, the lineup is dominant, and the Braves compete for a wild card in the NL East.
Worst Case Scenario: The rotation is a bust, the lineup doesn’t perform like it should, and the Braves finish last in the NL East.
Projected Finish: 67-95, 4th in NL East
25. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays didn’t have a huge off-season. They lost some crucial guys, and they traded away Logan Forsythe and Drew Smyly. However, they added to their pitching depth in that trade by acquiring Jose De Leon. Despite losing Desmond Jennings, they resigned Logan Morrison and signed Colby Rasmus to help fill out the starting lineup. Wilson Ramos and Nathan Eovaldi were also signed but are recovering from injuries. They made a lot of small moves, but nothing major enough to impact the Rays.
The Case for the Rays
The Rays play in the toughest division in the MLB. They have a talented team, but just don’t stack up to the rest of the AL East. They would be a mediocre team in a weaker division. But this is just how it is. The Rays don’t stack up with everybody else. A rebuild is not needed, now is just a big wait. A big wait for the Rays to able to do well again. They have a good roster, but some of these guys are getting old, or just aren’t as good as the other stars of the league.
The Bright Spot
The lineup is just mediocre. The true bright spots in Tampa are Chris Archer and Alex Cobb. Archer struggled in 2016, but is still the ace of the Rays. Cobb has been injured the last two years, but will perform well when healthy. Both of these guys should make a big impact for the Rays in 2017.
Best Case Scenario: The strong rotation leads the Rays to compete towards the top of the AL East, in hopes of a playoff spot.
Worst Case Scenario: Injuries hit hard again, and the Rays look worse than ever, finishing not just last in the AL East, but the whole American League.
Projected Finish: 69-93, 5th in AL East
Baseball season is almost here. This is just the start of my rankings series. Comment your thoughts and predictions, and check back tomorrow for my 24-19 rankings. Who will be next on the list? Check tomorrow to find out!
Alright, we are getting to the point where it’s a little tougher to rank. But come on, let’s get real. There are still some pretty bad teams out there that I haven’t mentioned.
Alright, let’s go.
24. Baltimore Orioles 74-88
The Orioles didn’t really help their team with the trades made this off season. After Chris Davis (resigned), Wei-Yin Chen and David Lough hit free agency, the Orioles weren’t looking great. They still have holes in their rotation, they are short two pitchers. They also have issues in the outfield.
They got Mark Trumbo and Hyun-Soo Kim, but Trumbo is also a DH candidate, and there is one more spot not filled by Kim or Adam Jones. Right now Jimmy Paredes or Nolan Reimold would be in RF, but they need a better person there. Some of their infielders aren’t hitting, and the rotation is just down to so few pitchers. The O’s already weren’t the greatest in ’15, and they’ve gotten even worse in 2016.
Record Projection: 74-88
23. Minnesota Twins
The Twins may have one of the best farm systems in the MLB, between Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and Oswaldo Arcia but besides signing Korean DH/1B Byung-Ho Park, they didn’t do much to improve their big league relevance. Sure, Buxton and crew could put on some good rookie seasons, but this team needs some veterans too. The Twins were mediocre last year, they weren’t in full rebuild, and they had Torii Hunter but they had a good farm system.
They don’t have many veterans to mentor the young guys anymore. Sure, they still have Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Kurt Suzuki and Trevor Plouffe but nobody who’s really all star material anymore. Eduardo Escobar is still developing. So are Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and Miguel Sano. That’s a large portion of the roster.
Their rotation on the other hand, is old and washed up. Ervin Santana and Phil Hughes don’t have much left in their careers, I would give the spotlight to Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone and other young pitchers, but they have not done that. The bullpen has also left no room for prospects to develop. Between Kevin Jepsen, Ryan O’ Rourke and Glen Perkins, this is a good bullpen, but just doesn’t have that younger flash to it. Let’s just say this team still needs work.
Projected Record: 73-89
22. Oakland Athletics
This team is in need of a big move. All they’ve done the past few off-seasons is give out contracts to a bunch of minor contributors. This team is still lacking superstars. A team full of mediocre, older players who just aren’t the same anymore isn’t going to bring this team anywhere. Despite the slight splash
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.