The biggest story this offseason in Major League Baseball will undoubtedly be the future of Giancarlo Stanton and the Miami Marlins. All signs point toward Stanton being traded by the new Marlins ownership group and the landing spot is anyone’s guess. Early rumors have the Red Sox engaging in talks and while the price tag is sure to be steep I couldn’t imagine Boston giving up on Mookie Betts or Rafael Devers to get Stanton. But then again this is Dave Dombrowski so anything is in play. The Sox are in dire need of a power bat and Stanton coming off a MVP caliber season with 59 home runs and 132 RBI would be the perfect fit in their quaint Fenway Park. The only kicker is that Stanton holds a full “no trade clause” so he’ll have the right to veto any trade that doesn’t suit him for whatever reason.
With this free agency class being relatively weak, I’m more interested in seeing what happens with Japanese sensation Shohei Otani. He’s a two way player, the Babe Ruth of Japan he’s being called in some circles. Otani is only 23 years old and last season posted a .332 batting average while also pitching to a 3.20 ERA. Expect the usual suspects to be in on Otani, the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox. How MLB The Show will handle his two way ability is anyone’s guess.
2018 Free Agency
Now to the free agent group who aren’t the most glamorous names in baseball but a Top 5 that depending where they land could shake up the landscape of whatever division they sign in.
Jake Arrieta – The 2015 Cy Young winner could be on the market assuming he passes on the Cubs one year qualifying offer ($17.4M). He should when there’s no doubt he’ll command a $100M+ contract for four or five years. While he had a “down” season (14-10, 3.53 ERA) he should be the prized possession this offseason. Starting pitching is always at a premium and there’s no question Arrieta is the only ace available in free agency. Since moving to the Cubs back in 2013, he’s recorded a 68-31 record (68.7%) with a 2.73 ERA. My money has Arrieta staying in the National League and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him re-sign in Chicago but I wouldn’t count out the Dodgers going big as wel.
J.D. Martinez – One of the most quiet .303/45/104 seasons you’ll ever see in your life belonged to Martinez in 2017. He split time between the Tigers (.305/16/39) and the Diamondbacks (.302/29/65) and neither league could cool down his bat this year. Great timing for the seven year player who will be turning 30 next season. Martinez is a Scott Boras player so expect his career year to pay off in a big, big way.
Eric Hosmer – The most coveted among the three Royals free agency this winter will be Hosmer who just earned himself the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Award at first base. For the second straight season Hosmer hit 25 home runs but he really took a step forward improving his average from .266 last season to .318 this year. At 28 years old he might fetch more money than Martinez given his age and position. Once again figure the Red Sox to be all over Hosmer this winter with a massive contract.
Mike Moustakas – The Royals third baseman had an offensive explosion this year belting 38 long balls, which is a +16 improvement over his 2015 campaign of 22 home runs. Moustakas only played in 27 games last year due to injury but he’s rebounded nicely playing in 148 this season. My money has him staying in Kansas City as the Royals should re-sign one of these three players and he might be the “cheapest” option.
Lorenzo Cain – He’s not a flashy center fielder with gaudy numbers but Cain is a stable, reliable and productive player who probably doesn’t get the attention he deserves. He’s always hovering around .300 batting average, he swipes some bags and has some power and productivity to make him a nice top of the lineup threat. He’ll be 32 years old but he has some good years left.
Yu Darvish – Someone is going to pay big money for Darvish despite his train wreck of a World Series. I won’t be shocked if he gets something in the ballpark of $20M per year. His numbers on paper weren’t great all season (10-12, 3.86 ERA) but his strikeout ratio are what catch people’s eye (209 K in 186 IP). It’s so hard for teams and fans to overlook just how dominant his stuff can be at times. Yu is one of those pitchers with so much potential but potential is the most dangerous word in baseball, he’s not consistent enough for me to want to invest long term.
Best of the rest: Zack Mozart, Alex Cobb, Wade Davis, Carlos Santana, Lance Lynn, Logan Morrison, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, Jonathan Lucroy, Greg Holland, Eduardo Nunez, Wellington Castillo