The 2016 MLB World Series begins this evening, and it promises to be an exciting matchup. Fans of either the Cubs or Indians should cherish this, as it is something they have not experienced in a very long time. For those interested in learning more about the matchup, they should definitely check out TJ’s post on the site this morning. For fans of the other 28 teams, however, their eyes are already set towards the offseason. Who are the top free agents? Where are they headed? All of those questions will be answered in this, as I will preview my top ten free agent signings for the 2017 MLB season. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Top Ten Free Agents
- LHP Rich Hill: While Hill may not necessarily be one of the ten best players in this class, he still cracks the top-ten due to the porousness of the starting pitchers’ market. Hill isn’t the type of pitcher who can handle a major workload, as he barely reached 100 IP this past season. Nevertheless, when he pitched he was extremely effective and posted an ERA in the low 2.00s. Based on that, he probably gets a contract somewhere in the three to four-year range, but due to the current value of starters, he may even get $20 million, especially if he signs with the team I believe he will.
Prediction: Resigns with the Dodgers for 3 years, $63 million: Outside of Kershaw, the Dodgers have nothing really reliable in their rotation. Even though he isn’t durable, Hill would give the Dodgers the 1-2 punch they desperately need going forward.
- OF/DH Jose Bautista: He’s 36 and coming off an injury-infested season, so this speaks to how much talent he still has. One thing this class is not lacking in is power, and Bautista still has plenty of it. If given the chance to play a full season, I am a firm believer Bautista is capable of hitting 35+ home runs. However, he isn’t going to get anything close to the 5 years and $150 million he wanted in the offseason.
Prediction: Resigns with Blue Jays for 1 year, $18.5 million: Toronto can’t keep both their big bats, and Bautista will likely come cheaper. This gives him a chance to prove himself durable again and get another big contract next season while giving Toronto another year of one of their big bats.
- RHP Mark Melancon: This year’s free agency has plenty of stud relievers, as evidenced by the fact that Melancon is the third best. Since he left Boston a few years ago, Melancon has turned himself into a shutdown closer. He doesn’t put up the huge strikeout numbers of other closers, but he definitely has excellent stuff and likely possesses some of the best control in the game. Considering the importance of relievers in today’s game, Melancon should get paid nicely.
Prediction: Signs with Giants for 4 years, $56: San Francisco was burned in the playoffs by not having a shutdown late-inning relief option. Signing Melancon would go a long way toward fixing that problem.
- OF/DH Mark Trumbo: If it weren’t for his power, Mark Trumbo might not even be in the league: he is a defensive liability, strikes out a ton and can’t hit for average. But coming off a year in which he led the MLB in home runs, Trumbo should get a lot of money. His power could play ridiculously well into several ballparks, and he has the capability to transform a lot of different lineups in either the American or National League. Plus, while he isn’t great defensively, he can play the outfield if needed.
Prediction: Signs with Blue Jays for 6 years, $114 million: Toronto will likely lose Encarnacion, and they will need to replace his power somehow. Trumbo gives them a replaceable middle of the order threat and is insurance in case Bautista cannot play the field anymore.
- OF Dexter Fowler: Fowler isn’t great at any one thing but is solid in all areas. He has good speed, is a decent leadoff hitter and even provide some pop with the bat here and there. Additionally, he plays a pretty good defensive center field and has a good enough arm. He may not get a ton of money, but Fowler will provide great value to whatever team signs him.
Prediction: Signs with Mariners for 5 years, $85 million: Chicago has enough depth in the outfield and a need to get Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward and Jorge Soler into the lineup every day. Plus, Seattle could use a table-setter to complement middle of the order threats Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz.
- OF Ian Desmond: After not resigning with Washington, Desmond transformed his career in Texas. He became an extremely reliable defensive outfielder and showed arm strength not previously exhibited at shortstop. His bat also took off, as he had over 20 home runs and hit in the upper .280s. Desmond made Texas look very smart for giving him that one-year prove it deal last season, and now Desmond is set to cash in.
Prediction: Resigns with Rangers for 6 years, $112 million: Why would Texas let him go after the year he just had for them? They both benefited greatly from the relationship, and they should keep this simple and give him the money he wants.
- LHP Aroldis Chapman: Hard as it is to believe, baseball’s hardest thrower isn’t the best reliever in the market this offseason. Still, it pays to be able to throw triple-digits on a consistent basis, and Chapman is going to get paid for it in the offseason. He is erratic and has had off-field issues, but he still has insane value as a shutdown ninth-inning reliever.
Prediction: Signs with Yankees for 6 years, $99.5 million: The Yankees benefited greatly from Chapman’s time in New York, and he seemed to be a good fit. Pairing him with Betances going forward would give the Yankees a deadly late-inning tandem.
- RHP Kenley Jansen: Jansen is the cream of the reliever crop this year. Outside of Mariano Rivera, he has arguably the best cutter in the history of baseball; it is almost as nasty as Zach Britton’s sinker or Andrew Miller’s slider. He beats you with one pitch, even when you know it is coming, and it will result in him getting a nine-figure contract
Prediction: Resigns with Dodgers for 7 years, $107 million: The Dodgers need Jansen as their late-inning man, and they have the money to give him whatever he wants. He’ll get paid, and they’ll get their closer back for a long time.
- 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion: As a power hitter, no one can quite match Encarnacion’s production. On a consistent year-in year-out basis, he hits 35-40 home runs and drives in over 100 runs. He loses value only because he is limited to first base if he plays the field, but there will be times willing to pay him a lot of money to be their middle of the order bat.
Prediction: Signs with Nationals for 4 years, $108 million: This may seem like a weird fit, but he can play first base, and Washington could use another big bat to pair with Bryce Harper moving forward. One cannot bank on Wilson Ramos (who is also a free agent) or Daniel Murphy repeating what they did this year, so the best thing may be to get some pop behind their superstar.
- OF Yoenis Cespedes: While this free agent class may be weak, Cespedes would be near or at the top in most classes. He can hit for both power and average while providing decent defense and a stellar arm. He has shown in his time with the Mets that he can single-handedly take over and carry a lineup for months at a time. If anyone is going to get a monster contract, it will be him.
Prediction: Resigns with Mets for 6 years, $168 million: The Mets cannot afford to lose his bat, and he loves playing in the bright lights of New York. He will give them the slightest of discounts and stay behind to officially make himself the permanent face of their franchise moving forward.
Cover photo courtesy inquistr.com.