MLB 2018 Predictions: Exciting Season In The Making Despite Slow Off-Season

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

Record Projections

AL East

  1. new-york-yankees New York Yankees 96-66 (#1 seed AL)
  2. boston-red-sox Boston Red Sox 92-70 (#4 seed AL)
  3. Toronto_Blue_Jays Toronto Blue Jays 76-86
  4. Baltimore-Orioles-Logo Baltimore Orioles 73-89
  5. Tampa_Bay_Rays Tampa Bay Rays 70-92

Image result for giancarlo stanton yankees

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.  

Image result for jd martinez red sox

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.

AL Central

  1. cleveland-indians Cleveland Indians 92-70 (#3 seed AL)
  2. minnesota-twins Minnesota Twins 87-75
  3. kansas-city-royals Kansas City Royals 73-89
  4. detroit-tigers Detroit Tigers 69-93
  5. chicago-white-sox 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.

Image result for yonder alonso indians

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.

AL West

  1. houston-astros Houston Astros 95-67 (#2 seed AL)
  2. la-angels-of-anaheim Los Angeles Angels 88-74 (#5 seed AL)
  3. seattle-mariners-logo Seattle Mariners 83-79
  4. texas-rangers Texas Rangers 74-88
  5. oakland-a's 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.

Image result for justin verlander astros

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.

NL East

  1. washington-nats Washington Nationals 97-65 (#1 seed NL)
  2. new-york-mets New York Mets 86-76
  3. atlanta-braves Atlanta Braves 78-84
  4. philadelphia.phillies Philadelphia Phillies 71-91
  5. miami-marlins 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.

Image result for bryce harper

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.

NL Central

  1. Chicago_Cubs Chicago Cubs 92-70 (#3 seed NL)
  2. St_Louis_Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals 90-72 (#4 seed NL)
  3. milwaukee-brewers Milwaukee Brewers 87-75
  4. Image result for cincinnati reds Cincinnati Reds 79-83
  5. pittsburgh-pirates 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.

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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.

Image result for lorenzo cain brewers

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.

NL West

  1. los-angeles-dodgers Los Angeles Dodgers 95-67 (#2 seed NL)
  2. colorado-rockies Colorado Rockies 88-74 (#5 seed NL)
  3. arizona-dbacks Arizona Diamondbacks 87-75
  4. sanfran-giants San Francisco Giants 85-77
  5. san diego-padres 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.

Image result for andrew mccutchen evan longoria giants

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.

Image result for eric hosmer padres

Now for my playoff predictions.

Playoff Predictions

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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.

Award Predictions

Below I have listed my Top 3 picks for each major MLB award.  

AL MVP

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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

NL MVP

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. Yu Darvish, CHC – Chicago is a great fit for Darvish, and I could see him thriving in Chicago and running at a Cy Young.
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

 

 

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MLB Free Agent/Trade Predictions Part 3: Outfielders and Trade Ideas

Welcome to the third and final part 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 outfielders on the market, and trade ideas.

Free agency is finally kicking into gear, and my predictions have been shaken up after the Giants traded for OF Andrew McCutchen and signed CF Austin Jackson.  I had originally predicted Lorenzo Cain to sign here, but after these two moves, I was reconsidering and began a prediction for Cain to sign in Milwaukee.

Then soon after, it happened, and the market shook up again when the Marlins dealt their last sign of hope to the Brewers in Christian Yelich.  Just hours later, the Brew Crew signed Cain and suddenly had a good problem.  They had five “starting outfielders” on their roster or five outfielders that could use a starting job.  Now, the question is, will they trade Domingo Santana or Keon Broxton?  Will Ryan Braun play first base as he said he is open to?  Find out my thoughts on that and much more below.

If you haven’t seen the first two parts, click the links below:

MLB Free Agent/Trade Predictions Part 1: Pitchers

MLB Free Agent/Trade Predictions Part 2: Catchers and Infielders

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)

OF

Image result for jose bautistaJose Bautista

My Prediction: Texas Rangers, 1 year, $9 million

Bautista doesn’t have many more years left in him.  He looked like he was on the decline last year, and as the Blue Jays are ready to let younger players take over in the outfield, he will not be signing another 1-year deal with them.  However, the Rangers could use one more veteran outfielder to add depth to the outfield and to be a role model for guys like Nomar Mazara and Delino DeShields.  He will not sign a long-term deal though as I do not think he has more than one or two good years left.

Image result for melky cabrera Melky Cabrera

My Prediction: Atlanta Braves, 3 years, $42 million

The Braves are another team that lacks outfield depth.  Bringing back a power hitting veteran like Cabrera is a smart choice because this young lineup needs some power, and the outfield needs another option in left field beside Preston Tucker or Lane Adams.  After playing here in 2010, this would be Cabrera’s second stint in Atlanta, so he at least vaguely knows the organization.

 

Image result for rajai davis Rajai Davis

My Prediction: Chicago White Sox, 2 years, $17 million

The White Sox lack a definitive group of major league ready outfielders as they enter a rebuild, so signing one more veteran at that position would be helpful.  It doesn’t have to be a big move, just someone who can start for them like Rajai Davis.  They don’t need anyone for more than a couple years either due to the fact that they’ll have more outfielders ready to start in a couple years.

For now, while Davis plays left, Adam Engel and Charlie Tilson can work out some sort of platoon in center.  Then as time passes, guys like top prospect Eloy Jimenez or RF Willy Garcia could take over for Davis, and Engel and Tilson could get more time as starters.

Image result for jarrod dyson Jarrod Dyson

My Prediction: Miami Marlins, 3 years, $24 million

After trading away outfielders Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, the Marlins are in rebuild mode and will have a new look outfield this year.  But they need a couple more ready to start players in case new outfielders Lewis Brinson, Braxton Lee or Magneuris Sierra cannot handle full-time jobs yet.  Dyson is one of the younger outfielders on the market and would be a good fit in Miami to play this role.

Image result for andre ethier Andre Ethier

My Prediction: Miami Marlins, 1 year, $7 million

Although Ethier is injury prone and his bat may not be as powerful as it used to be, he would be a good veteran influence in Miami if he stays healthy.  If he gets hurt, the Marlins will likely have Braxton Lee or Magneuris Sierra ready to be in a full-time job.  After missing most of 2017 with injuries, the Marlins will have to hope that he’s still a reliable starter and that he doesn’t get hurt, so there are some risks to this signing.

However, I think it will happen as the Marlins need a veteran influence for these young outfielders.  Part of me does not understand why the Marlins are rebuilding so early, but it might be because they want to deal their stars away before they lose value and the Marlins become an old, mediocre team with nowhere to go.

An early rebuild gives them the opportunity to acquire a lot of young talent in exchange for some of their current starters, but they still need some veteran influences to start until the young guys are ready.  Don’t expect the Marlins to be anything more than a 70-win team though, with or without veterans.  The Marlins missed the window to contend with their last era of players, can they contend with this new squad?

Right now, if they sign Ethier and Jarrod Dyson, I could see Lewis Brinson and Dyson in full-time jobs, while Ethier and Magneuris Sierra platoon.

Image result for carlos gomez Carlos Gomez

My Prediction: Baltimore Orioles, 2 years, $23 million

Baltimore would be a good fit for Gomez, who will bring some power to the lineup of whatever team he signs with.  The O’s have a powerful lineup, but after losing Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy’s bats over the last two off-seasons, they could use one more power hitter to top the lineup off.  They never really found a powerful replacement in the lineup for Wieters, and this will also fill their hole in the outfield.

Image result for carlos gonzalez Carlos Gonzalez

My Prediction: Seattle Mariners, 3 years, $34.5 million

Even after acquiring Dee Gordon to play outfield, I don’t trust the Mariners outfield to come through right now.  Maybe they could consider trading away 2B Robinson Cano to open up second for Gordon before spring training.  But they will only do that if they can get a starting outfielder in return.  Either way, signing Gonzalez is a good move for them.  He will be a veteran influence on the young guns as he is a strong player in the field and at the plate.  Although he has declined, I could see a bounce-back year in the works.  If he doesn’t bounce back, they have platoon mates ready for him such as Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia or Mitch Haniger.

Image result for jon jay Jon Jay

My Prediction: Oakland Athletics, 2 years, $22 million

In an effort to finally break through this season, the A’s could use another veteran in their outfield.  Even with Dustin Fowler and Boog Powell among others ready to start, there are no locks for Oakland’s third starting outfielder.  Jay is a good fit for them, as although he is not necessarily an everyday starter, the A’s can let the younger guys rotate with Jay and fellow starter Stephen Piscotty, while star left fielder Khris Davis starts daily.

Give him a two or three-year deal to come to Oakland, and when his contract expires, the younger players will be ready for a full-time role.  For now, they can have Jay start some games in center, where they desperately need another option.

 

Image result for jd martinez J.D. Martinez

My Prediction: Boston Red Sox, 5 years, $75 million

There have been so many rumors that this deal will happen, that I’d almost consider it inevitable.  The Red Sox are probably just waiting because there hasn’t been much buzz surrounding Martinez or much of a rush to sign him.  Martinez will probably play a mix of DH and outfield during his time in Boston, but either way, he will bring the some of the power the Red Sox need to make up for the loss of David Ortiz’s presence in the lineup.  But none of the home run hitters on the market can make up for what the Sox lost when Big Papi retired.

Image result for jayson werth Jayson Werth

My Prediction: San Francisco Giants, 2 years, $19 million

I know that the Giants have already spent a lot on their outfield this off-season between Cutch and Austin Jackson.  But I think Jackson could use a veteran platoon-mate.  Werth still should have a couple good years left in him, and he may not be an everyday starter anymore, but I see him as a great fit in San Francisco.  They could have younger players like Jarrett Parker or Gorkys Hernandez rotate with A-Jax, but I think the Giants had three major priorities this off-season: fix the outfield, get a new third baseman to replace the washed-up Pablo Sandoval, and add a couple more starters.

They have already acquired Evan Longoria to play third and A-Jax and Cutch in the outfield.  So if they sign one more outfielder and add a little depth to the starting five, they could be legitimate contenders, even in one of the tightest divisions in the MLB.

 

Other Predictions:

Peter Bourjos (PHI, 2 years, $16 million)

Alejandro De Aza (CIN, 1 year, $4.5 million)

Matt Holliday (HOU, 1 year, $6 million)

Cameron Maybin (LAD, 2 years, $17 million)

Colby Rasmus (PHI, 2 years, $14 million)

Ben Revere (DET, 1 year, $3.5 million)

Michael Saunders (CLE, 2 years, $12 million)

 

Trade Ideas: These trades would work on both sides, but it’s doubtful that most of them actually go through

Boston Red Sox trade DH Hanley Ramirez & SP prospect Williams Jerez to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for SP Kyle Gibson (In this case, the Sox would sign 1B Eric Hosmer or OF/DH J.D. Martinez)

If they can find a destination for Hanley Ramirez, it would give the Red Sox some flexibility in the free agent market.  They’ll be able to sign a free agent DH or first baseman and get him into a full-time role.  It would’ve given them even more flexibility to just forget about resigning Mitch Moreland because then Hanley could play whatever position they cannot fill in free agency, either DH or first base.  But it’s too late for that.

It will be tough for them to dish away Hanley’s contract though.  Who would want to take that on?  The only team that I think might be up for it is the Twins, who could be looking for an upgrade at DH over Kennys Vargas.  However, it would be nice, especially if we can get a decent starter in return like Gibson.  It would be nice just to have another option in the rotation in case Price or E-Rod struggles.  In the meantime, we could sign either Eric Hosmer or J.D. Martinez to fill our need for a power hitter, and they would have a full-time role for whichever one they sign.

In this case, signing Hosmer would mean Hosmer plays first and Moreland plays DH, and signing Martinez would mean that Moreland stays at first and Martinez replaces Hanley at DH.

New York Yankees trade OF Brett Gardner, INF prospect Gleyber Torres, and OF prospect Jake Cave to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for 2B Robinson Cano 

I was suggesting that the Mariners consider trading Cano to open up second base for the newcomer Dee Gordon, but it would be crazy if this happened.  This would just give the Yankees another home run hitter when they already got Giancarlo Stanton this off-season.  I even have them re-signing 3B Todd Frazier.

But it would be a good trade on both sides as the Yankees fill the hole that Starlin Castro left, and the Yankees already have enough outfielders with Hicks, Judge, Ellsbury, and Stanton out there.  Cano knows the offensive scheme in New York too, and that always helps.  They do need a DH, but they have guys like Tyler Austin and Miguel Andujar that could become a full-time DH.  This is also good on Seattle’s end, as they open up second base for Gordon and get a much needed full-time outfielder in return.  It’s a nice thought, but it would be absurd if this actually went through.

Tampa Bay Rays trade OF Kevin Kiermaier to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for 2B Devon Travis

I don’t think the Jays are done dealing.  Even with Curtis Granderson and Randal Grichuk on the roster, I think the Jays could use one more outfielder.  Kiermaier is a great fielder who can fill that need.  The Jays don’t really need Travis anymore since they traded for 2B Yangervis Solarte.  On Tampa’s side of things, they already have a surplus of starters in the outfield, and first base is their biggest offensive hole.  Acquiring a second baseman like Travis will allow Brad Miller to spend some time playing first while Travis shares time with Micah Johnson and/or Joey Wendle at second.

Texas Rangers trade 3B Adrian Beltre to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for SP Julio Teheran and RP Mauricio Cabrera

This might be the craziest trade I’ve predicted yet.  I highly doubt this will happen, but if it did, it would work for both teams.  The Braves will be able to give their younger pitchers more time in the starting five, and they will fill their gaping hole at third that was left by Adonis Garcia when he left to play in Korea.

Meanwhile, in Texas, they would acquire a flame-throwing reliever looking to bounce-back from an injury-riddled season (Cabrera) and a top-tier starter to grab the second spot in the rotation behind Cole Hamels (Teheran).  With Beltre out of Texas, 3B Joey Gallo will finally have a full-time job as well.  I doubt this will happen, but it is an intriguing trade that would shake up the rosters of both of these teams.

Milwaukee Brewers trade OF Domingo Santana and SP prospect Freddy Peralta to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for SP Danny Salazar

This would balance out the rosters of both the Indians and Brewers.  Of all the trades I’m predicting, this is the most likely to happen.  It is practically a perfect fit on both sides.  The Indians have already been open to trading Salazar, as, since the end of 2017, they have had six valid starters.  Without Salazar, they will still have a solid rotation as seen below:

  1. Corey Kluber
  2. Carlos Carrasco
  3. Trevor Bauer
  4. Josh Tomlin
  5. Mike Clevinger

Meanwhile, with the addition of Salazar, the Brewers rotation will begin to look more intriguing, and they will look more like a playoff team as seen below:

  1. Danny Salazar
  2. Yovani Gallardo
  3. Zach Davies
  4. Chase Anderson
  5. Jhoulys Chacin (He will start until Jimmy Nelson returns)

Despite a defined ace, they will have multiple pitchers with ace potential.  Meanwhile, the Brewers will be able to cut down their outfield to three everyday starters in Cain, Yelich, and Braun.  Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips can back them up.  The Indians outfield will finally have the right-handed everyday starter they need in Santana.

He will start alongside Michael Brantley, and either Bradley Zimmer, Lonnie Chisenhall, Brandon Guyer, or someone else.  The Indians have Melvin Upton Jr. signed to a minor league deal as well, and I could see him returning to the majors.  The point is, the Indians will at least have two defined starters after this trade, and both teams will fill a crucial need and give up a player at a position they have plenty of depth at.

 

That’s all for my 2017-18 MLB Free Agency Predictions.  Feel free to comment on any of these articles with your thoughts.  In addition, if you haven’t seen my APEX go-kart experience article yet, click the link below:

Race to the APEX For Non-Stop Entertainment

While I was there, my dad and I faced off in NFL Blitz, and we simulated the Super Bowl LII match-up.  Playing as the Pats, my dad beat me (as the Eagles), 31-3.  I was unhappy that I lost, but also happy that the Pats won our simulation.  As for the real Super Bowl, I will have an in-depth look at it throughout this week, so stay tuned.

Ranking The Teams 30-25, My Version: The Ugly

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 Minnesota Twins

Off-season Review

Image result for jason castro 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

Image result for miguel sano byron buxton

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 San Diego Padres

Off-season Review

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

Image result for wil myers padres

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-a's Oakland Athletics

Off-season Review

Image result for rajai davis a's

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

Image result for khris davis a's

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 Philadelphia Phillies

Off-season in Review

Image result for howie kendrick welcome to phillies

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

Image result for jimmy rollins 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

Image result for maikel franco

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 Atlanta Braves

Off-season Review

Image result for bartolo colon 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

Image result for freddie freeman

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

Image result for dansby swanson

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 Tampa Bay Rays

Off-season Review

rasmus-rays.jpg

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

Image result for chris archer

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!