MLB 2018-19 Free Agency Predictions: Catchers and Infielders

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.

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MLB 2018-19 Free Agency Coverage – Tentative Schedule

Week of November 19: MLB 2018-19 Free Agency Predictions: Pitchers

Week of November 26: MLB 2018-19 Free Agency Predictions: Catchers & Infielders

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.

C

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.

2B

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.

SS

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.

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Swihart Makes History, Red Sox Catch Mets

The Red Sox caught the Mets and beat them in extras 6-4.  In the 10th tied 3-3, Blake Swihart hit a ball that appeared to go high off the padding of the center field wall for an inside the park dinger by Swihart.  Even though replays later appeared to show the ball hit above the wall, the call stood making Swihart the first Red Sox player with an inside-the-park HR since September 9, 2011 and the first Red Sox catcher in over 70 years.  They weren’t done as JBJ singled and Mookie Betts doubled.  Josh Rutledge then hit a sac fly that drove in Bradley Jr.  5-3.  Mookie Betts scored when Xander Bogaerts singled in the next at bat.

In the bottom of the inning, Junichi Tazawa struggled after the first 2 outs.  He walked 4 straight, giving the Mets their 4th run.  Good thing the Sox got those insurance runs.  He appeared to hurt his back on a double play that stopped Wilmer Flores from advancing after a single.  Craig Breslow was the only Sox left in the pen and got Cespedes to fly out to earn the save.  Tommy Layne who pitched the 9th got the win.  Carlos Torres, who gave up the inside the park homer took the loss.

The Mets scored first off Henry Owens in the 4th inning.  The Sox rarely win when their opponents score first.  Wilmer Flores doubled and Travis d’Arnaud singled him in.  1-0 Mets.  In the 5th David Wright singled and Michael Cuddyer drove him in with another.  2-0.  But the Red Sox answered with a 7th inning rally.  Big Papi got it started with a solo shot to center and JBJ went deep to drive in Swihart, who had singled and stole second.  3-2 Red Sox.  The Mets tied it up in the bottom of the inning.  Yoenis Cespedes walked and David Wright singled him to second.  Ogando walked the next two batters for the first of two runs scored on walks by New York.

In the 8th, Sandoval hit a ball about 2 inches that was ruled in play for an easy out.  He was thrown out of the game for arguing the call.  Josh Rutledge took over second and Brock Holt moved to third.

Tommy Layne kept the Sox alive in the bottom of the 9th.  Then Swihart made history to spark the 3-run 10th.

Watch today’s game at 4:05 pm.  It’s Jacob DeGrom, the surprise ace for the Mets, and Joe Kelly for the Sox.  Kelly is undefeated in August, going 5-0 through 5 starts.  He hopes to continue his streak after an extremely disappointing first four months.