With the World Series (almost) over and a new champion crowned, the attention immediately shifts towards the offseason and free agency. And while the 2018-19 free agency class could prove to be the best in a very long, with the likes of Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson, and Manny Machado among the big names available, the 2017 list is nothing to sneeze at. There are a number of very good players, at almost every position, that could provide a huge boost to whichever club shells out the right amount of cash to secure their services.There are some great hitters, some stifling defenders, and even some ace pitchers on the market for the 2018 season. This article will take a look at the best of the best, and even speculate about where they might end up!
10. Wade Davis
While some positions offer a variety of free agent agent options this year, that doesn’t really apply to elite closers. There are plenty of relievers available, sure, but quite a few could be considered a bit risky. The safest bet, by far, is closer Wade Davis of the Chicago Cubs. He was acquired in a trade from the Kansas City Royals last year and picked up in Chicago where he left off in K.C. He made a third straight All-Star game this year and had a 2.30 ERA and notched 32 saves in 33 chances.
He will generate a lot of interest from teams who could use some help in the bullpen, but I don’t think he’s going anywhere. He was a big reason why the Cubs were as good as they were, so I don’t see how they would consider letting him walk. Expect a big offer from the Cubs as they attempt to lock up their closer for at least four more years.
9. Lance Lynn
Lance Lynn has been a staple on the Cardinals pitching staff for years. While he sat out 2016 after Tommy John surgery, he returned in 2017 and didn’t miss a beat. He went 11-7 with an ERA barely over 3.00. He’s still only 30-years-old, so he should garner a lot of interest from any club looking for pitching depth — which is typically all of them. Due to the emergence of several young pitchers on the Cards, I don’t think Lynn will return to St. Louis.
He has many potential landing spots, though, as he makes for a solid third or fourth starter in the rotation. Most teams are always looking for that kind of guy, but I could see him potentially landing with the Cubs or the Mariners. The Mariners have a glaring need for pitching and Lynn is one of the best available that won’t cost them an arm and a leg. As for the Cubs, Lynn could make a nice consolation prize if they can’t re-sign Jake Arrieta (more on him later).
8. Mike Moustakas
Moustakas is one of the most impressive power hitters available in free agency this year. While he had a torn ACL that kept him off the field for most of 2016, he was able to bounce back in a BIG way in 2017. He had 38 home runs to go along with 85 RBIs and a batting average of .272. Those are some solid stats for the 29-year-old.
While the Royals could very well bring him back, he is not their biggest priority since All-Star first baseman Eric Hosmer is a free agent as well. As a result, a team looking for offensive help would love to sign Moustakas. The Angels and the Giants could be two potential landing sports for Moustakas, as they could really use the injection of power into their lineups.
7. Jay Bruce
Bruce is a 10-year MLB veteran and was instrumental in the amazing season of the Cleveland indians, especially during their record-breaking winning streak. He was going through a little bit of a slump in the middle of his career, but 2017 changed all of that. Bruce had 36 home runs, 101 RBIs, and a .832 OPS this season, and could be a great fit for a team who wants some more hitting and veteran leadership.
I think he will be a cheaper option than Carlos Santana, so I predict Bruce will actually end up re-signing with the Indians. I could see him being an attractive option for DH on another American League team, as he is not the best defender but is still a productive bat that needs to be in your lineup.
6. Lorenzo Cain
Cain is among the most versatile players in the entire MLB, and is only a few years removed from being an MVP candidate. He only had 15 home runs and 50 RBIs in 2017, but still sported a batting average of .303 and is above average on the defensive side of the ball. He is getting up there a bit in age (he’ll be 32 when the season starts), but still proved this year that he can be a solid contributor all over the field.
On the surface, I think a good landing spot for Cain could be a team like the Texas Rangers. While pitching is clearly a concern for them, so is the outfield. Cain could provide a team like them with an all-around player that can do everything from hit, to running and fielding. The Toronto Blue Jays also have big holes in their outfield, and could get in on the Cain sweepstakes.
5. Carlos Santana
If you are in need of some switch hitting power on your roster, look no further than Carlos Santana. He is a seven year veteran and has been a consistently good offensive player throughout his career. Last season, he had 23 home runs, 79 RBIs, and was actually an underrated player on the defensive end.
He will be 32 next season, but has proven himself to be a consistently solid option for the Indians. The Red Sox are always a threat to sign a big name free agent, and I think they go after Santana. They struggled with power this season while still winning the AL East title before bowing out of the postseason early. Santana could be just what they need to compliment to their already stacked roster of players.
4. J.D Martinez
Martinez proved himself to be one of the best hitters in all of baseball this season. He started off decently with the Tigers, but once he got traded to the Diamondbacks, he really took off. In total, Martinez had 45 home runs and 104 RBI this season, while also hitting for an impressive .303 average. He is also only 30-years-old, which makes him relatively young compared to most of the bats available in the free agency period.
The Blue Jays are a team who would love to bolster their outfield and Martinez is the best option to do that. A sneaky landing spot could be the Nationals, as they will likely see at least some of their best players departing in 2019, so this might be their last chance at a World Series win if guys like Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, and Gio Gonzalez decide to leave. They might go all-in for 2018 and sign J.D.
3. Yu Darvish
While his tenure with the Los Angeles Dodgers has been fairly lackluster, Darvish is still one of the best strikeout artists in the entire league. There are questions about how he will perform as he ages and whether he is worth the money he is likely to command. This 2017 season was one of his worst so far, but he has shown what he could do in the past. If he can return to that form, he will be well worth the money.
As far as where he might end up, there are a lot of different options. The Atlanta Braves have been reportedly looking at acquiring a big pitcher this winter, and Darvish is one of the best available, so I could totally see him ending up in Atlanta. The Braves need to do something to kickstart the entire organization back into being competitive.
2. Eric Hosmer
Heading into the free agency period, Hosmer is likely at the top of the list when it comes to position players. The one question about Hosmer for most of his career has been his power, but he answered those questions in recent years. In 2017, Hosmer had 25 home runs with 94 RBIs and a .318 batting average, which is the best of his career by far. He is also still quite young at 27, with many of his prime years still to come.
While the Royals have three major free agents leaving, I think Hosmer is their largest priority and there is a good chance he re-signs with them. They just can’t afford to let him walk. But if they do, I could also see him going to a team like the Cardinals, who never seem to know who their first baseman should be since Albert Pujols left.
1. Jake Arrieta
While Jake Arrieta had a rough start to the season, he finished the season in much better fashion to alleviate the concerns that some people had. He finished with 14 wins and an ERA of 3.53, which isn’t too bad considering how badly the season kicked off. He is a former CY Young winner and even if he’s never quite that good again, he could still offer a variety of teams a significant upgrade to their pitching staff.
I think the Cubs will more than likely re-sign Arrieta, as he is one of the best in the league and was instrumental to their success over the past few years — plus they aren’t shy about spending big money. If he leaves the Cubs, it will probably be for a team that offers him a massive deal, such as the Phillies or the Yankees — too bad about that glorious beard if he does end up in pinstripes though.