Welcome to Part 3 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 outfielders, including Bryce Harper, Michael Brantley, and A.J. Pollock, as well as some trade ideas. Feel free to comment with your thoughts.
Below is my tentative schedule for my 2018-19 MLB free agency coverage.
MLB 2018-19 Free Agency Coverage – Tentative Schedule
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 Seattle’s trades on December 3 and Pedro Alvarez’s deal on December 5.
The Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers and Nationals have been as Harper’s top suitors. But if you saw MLB.com’s free agent matrix for Harper, you’d see that the Indians have money to spend and desperately need an outfielder. Harper would be a good investment for them. Brantley, the former Cleveland Indian, will head to Houston to provide an upgrade over the combo of Derek Fisher, Tony Kemp, Marwin Gonzalez, and co.
Jerry Dipoto is not rebuilding in the same way Miami did. They will still sign cheaper free agents, and outfield is a major need. Look for them to add one or two. Adam Jones is a good fit, and Hunter Pence will also give Seattle a boost, as he has not fully declined yet in his upper 30’s. The A’s don’t have much money to spend, but if they’re looking to contend, Andrew McCutchen would be a worthwhile investment who fits well in Oakland. If the Cubs miss out on Harper, A.J. Pollock could be a good fit. Albert Almora Jr. is not a viable CF option in my book, and they could use some outfield insurance even with Ben Zobrist helping out there. Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward have not met expectations either.
If the Rays want to make a playoff push, they have to be aggressive this off-season. Markakis is an affordable, but elite outfield upgrade option for the Rays. After getting rid of C.J. Cron, they will need to add another bat to the lineup. Meanwhile, Jon Jay could be a good fit in St. Louis. He can share time with the young Harrison Bader in center.
The Rockies are unlikely to bring back both Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gonzalez. The rise of Ryan McMahon may push Ian Desmond into the Rockies outfield. They will re-sign Parra for OF insurance though. CarGo could fit as a platoon outfielder in Atlanta. I could see a pretty even time share in the Braves outfield if they add CarGo. If the Phillies miss out on Harper, they will also still need an outfielder. Carlos Gomez would be a good fit. If Rhys Hoskins still gets time in the outfield, they will not want to commit to a top line outfielder like Harper.
Granderson could be afforded by a smaller market team with a need for an outfielder. Look for the O’s to add him on a one-year deal while Anthony Santander and Cedric Mullins develop.
Cruz will return to Seattle, who could still use 1B/DH help. The Tigers could use another bat to replace Victor Martinez, and preferably another veteran to anchor the rebuild. Gattis is a perfect fit. The Royals are also in the market for another bat, and Matt Joyce is an affordable option. I have Holliday returning to the Yankees on a 1-year deal to provide insurance for the outfield. Alvarez will head to Minnesota to help out Tyler Austin at first base/DH.
Cleveland Indians trade SP Trevor Bauer to the Houston Astros in exchange for RP Brad Peacock, OF Kyle Tucker, C prospect Garrett Stubbs
Everyone says that Corey Kluber is going to be traded. But I think trading SP Trevor Bauer is a safer option. In return, they get Brad Peacock, who could be utilized as a starter or a reliever as well as some outfield insurance in Kyle Tucker. C prospect Garrett Stubbs will provide depth at catcher after the Yan Gomes trade.
Los Angeles Dodgers trade SP Rich Hill to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for RP Corey Knebel
The Dodgers have been in the market for top-line starters including Kluber, but I find this fact ridiculous. They have an abundance of starters! Clayton Kershaw is still here, Walker Buehler is a star on the rise, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill are solid mid-tier starters who are returning, and that leaves Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood, and Ross Stripling competing for the #5 spot. After bringing Ryu back, they have the flexibility to trade one of their starters, as I see Wood as a completely capable starter, and Stripling and Maeda should get the chance for a rotation spot.
Hill is a good trade nugget, and the Brewers could use some better pitching, so they’d be willing to give up one of their many late-inning relievers for Hill. Knebel will help set up for Kenley Jansen alongside Tony Cingrani and provide depth in a weaker bullpen.
Toronto Blue Jays trade C Luke Maile to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for LHP prospect Lewis Thorpe, RHP prospect Jhoan Duran
This is a smaller trade, but worth it for both sides. Jays C Danny Jansen is MLB ready and can split time with C Russell Martin. That puts C Luke Maile in an awkward position. If they trade him to Minnesota, who needs a backup catcher, they could get some valuable pitching prospects to boost a weak rotation down the road.
That’s all for my MLB free agency predictions. But my Baseball Bits on overly expensive free agents is up next. Stay tuned.