Today, we take a little turn away from our normal St. Louis Cardinals’ specific coverage to have a look at the top 50 MLB free agents this offseason.
I first off want to credit MLBTraderumors for their idea of ranking the “MLB Top 50 Free Agents” and predicting their contract and destination. I have decided to take my shot at this and I will do it a little differently.
We will not be ranking them because I don’t find it valuable to do so. However, I will provide my prediction on contract length, salary, and team destination. This was a lot of work, but a lot of fun for someone who is really getting into contract precedent and analyzing payrolls along with team needs. Without further adieu, MozAlgorithm’s Top 50 Free Agent List…
J.D. Martinez (30)- Giants, 6 Years/$156M
Traded in July from Detroit to Arizona only fueled his free agency fire. He hit 45 home runs in the 2017 campaign with 29 of those round-trippers coming after the trade to Arizona. Martinez holds a career slash line of .285/.342/.514, but the knock on him is that he’s never been “The Man”.
He has always had Miguel Cabrera in Detroit and even had Paul Goldschmidt when he went to Arizona. Lucky for him, Buster Posey is the most popular player in San Francisco. While Posey doesn’t provide the offensive production of a Miggy or Goldy, he will help take some pressure off his newly found teammate.
Yu Darvish (31)- Rangers, 6 Years/$150M
Despite having a poor showing in the World Series, Darvish is set for a big payday this winter. He is well established as the top pitching free agent in this year’s class and his contract will reflect as such. Darvish has expressed his desire to return to Texas and I think the Rangers pony up the cash to get their premier pitcher back.
Eric Hosmer (28)- Red Sox, 7 Years/$161M
Hosmer is quite an enigma. Some people think he’s worth $200M, his agent, while others have him barely getting $100M in his first time through free agency. Hosmer was a key cog in the Royals great runs and eventual World Series Championship. The Red Sox need stability at 1B. This is a match made in heaven. With the news Dave Dombrowski plans on going over the luxury tax threshold, I see no issue with this contract for Hosmer in Boston.
Jake Arrieta (32)- Braves, 4 Years/$100M
The Braves need a leader in their rotation. Currently constructed of Julio Teheran, Sean Newcomb, Mike Foltynewicz and Max Fried. With R.A. Dickey departing for possible retirement, Jake Arrieta can be the ace of this staff. He can fill the leadership role that Dickey served on this young Braves team. They have been looking for that ace type pitcher since almost acquiring Chris Sale last winter. The Braves have money and are ready to get out of the NL East basement.
Mike Moustakas (29)- Angels. 5 Years/$90M
Another piece of the Royals playoff runs and eventual Championship, Mike Moustakas, will head west to play with Mike Trout and the Angels. The Angels appear to be going for it in the final 3 years of Trout’s contract. You’ll notice the Angels are a common team on this list. Moustakas provides stability at 3B for the Angles while also giving them significant power from the left side, something they lack.
Lorenzo Cain (32)- Blue Jays, 4 Years/$80M
The Blue Jays are hanging on to Josh Donaldson because they want to compete in 2018. If that’s what they want, then they need to re-tool their OF. It starts with signing the final piece of the Royals past success in Lorenzo Cain. The Blue Jays had significant interest last winter in Dexter Fowler but lost out to the Cardinals. Cain provides them a mulligan and is probably a better overall player than Fowler. Between Cain and Kevin Pillar, the Blue Jays would have tremendous options to man CF for years to come.
Lance Lynn (31)- Orioles, 4 Years/$76M
I have been back and forth on the destination for Lynn. All summer long I had him going to Milwaukee. The more I looked at how Milwaukee’s rotation shapes up, I started leaning towards Baltimore. The Orioles, like the Blue Jays, want to compete in 2018. In the final year of Manny Machado and Adam Jones‘ contracts, they expect to take down the Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East.
While I think this is a fool’s errand for both teams, they will need to start by fixing their rotation. The first piece is signing Lance Lynn. He will provide them with a solid #3 behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy. Lynn will get a contract somewhere between Ian Kennedy‘s with Kansas City (4/$70M) and Jeff Samardzjia’s with the Giants (4/$90).
Carlos Santana (32)- Rangers, 4 Years/$72M
The Texas Rangers have a need at either 1B or DH, whichever they choose not to put Joey Gallo at. Santana has spent his entire career with the Cleveland Indians and I just can’t see where he fits in their payroll after they exercised Michael Brantley‘s $12M option for 2018. Santana has decent power and it would play very well in the Texas heat and Globe Life Ballpark. He brings an excellent glove at 1B as well as he was 2nd in all of baseball with 10 defensive runs saved (DRS) in 2017.
Wade Davis (32)- Cubs, 4 Years/$64M
Wade Davis sets the pace as this year’s top relief pitcher. Ever since being transitioned from a failed starter into a reliever in 2012, Davis has been one of the most dominant relievers in all of baseball. Then Tampa Bay pitching coach, Jim Hickey, is now the Cubs new pitching coach. The need is there for the Cubs as their bullpen is one of the weakest units on the team. They will have to pay a pretty price to get him, but in the end, I think Davis stays on the North Side.
Greg Holland (32)- Rockies, 4 Years/$54M
The second sought after free agent reliever this winter will be none other than Davis’ former teammate in Kansas City, Greg Holland. Holland had a tremendous season for the Rockies posting a 3.61 ERA with 41 saves. The ERA is a tad inflated due to a poor August where he had quite a few hiccups.
He did recover, however, to put together a good finish to the season and helped get the Rockies into the Wild Card Game. Despite opting out of his player option with Colorado, I think they fit together well and end up constructing a new deal to keep Holland closing out games in Denver for 4 years.
Todd Frazier (32)- Yankees, 4 Years/$64M
The Yankees need a third baseman. The Chase Headley experiment has to be over. He hasn’t hit well since coming over from San Diego in a trade in 2014. Todd Frazier is a great fit for the Yankees. He wants to be there and they need him there.
With a young team, a leader like Frazier in the clubhouse the sky is the limit for this current Yankees group. Frazier hit 11 HR in the 66 games he played with the Yankees in 2017 after the trade from the White Sox with a 107 OPS+. The Yankees bring him back and keep him at 3B for the foreseeable future.
Jay Bruce (31)- Blue Jays, 4 Years/$60M
As the Blue Jays continue to reshape their OF with the addition of Lorenzo Cain, I see them adding Jay Bruce to play RF for them. Bruce has tremendous power as he displayed in the playoffs with Cleveland. He pounded 36 HR in 2017 between the Mets and Indians and 33 more in 2016 with the Mets and Reds. His power will play very well in the launching pad that is Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays go into 2018 with a middle of the order of Donaldson, Smoak, Cain, Bruce. Look out
Alex Cobb (30)- Cubs, 4 Years/$52M
After some injury-riddled seasons in 2015 and 2016, Alex Cobb was able to put together a decent 2017 with a 3.66 ERA and 6.4 K/9. I see Cobb following his former pitching coach, Jim Hickey, to the Cubs this winter. The Cubs are desperate to fix their rotation and Cobb would go a long way to doing that as a solid innings eater and middle of the rotation talent
Logan Morrison (30)- Mets, 4 Years/$50M
Since trading Lucas Duda to Tampa Bay this past July, the Mets have had a hole at 1B. Logan Morrison could easily fill that void for them. LoMo smashed a career-high 38 home runs in 2017. He was part of the group of players that joined the launch angle revolution and changed their careers. The Mets are not the type of team to do a teardown rebuild, so I see them trying to patch something together to compete and it starts with Morrison at 1B
Tyler Chatwood (28)- Angels, 4 Years/$44M
If there is a pitcher who’s been punished by Coors Field, its Tyler Chatwood. In 332.1 career innings pitched at Coors Field and a 3.31 ERA in 315.1 IP away from the pitching punisher that is Coors Field.
Chatwood was drafted by the Angels and traded to Colorado for Chris Iannetta in 2011. The Angels are desperate for starting pitching and will spend a ton of money to improve their offense around Trout. Chatwood provides a solid middle of the rotation guy they get at a discount because of the time he spent with the Rockies.
Addison Reed (29)- Diamondbacks, 4 Years/$40M
The Diamondbacks will reunite with a familiar face in Addison Reed. Reed had 35 saves for Arizona during the 2014 and half of the 2015 season before being traded to the New York Mets at the trade deadline. Arizona now needs a closer again as they’ll move on from Fernando Rodney and should keep Archie Bradley in the setup role that he dominated in that role in 2017
Eduardo Nunez (31)- Giants, 3 Years/$36M
I don’t buy Pablo Sandoval being the long-term solution at 3B for the Giants. Top prospect Christian Arroyo was less than desirable in his time spent in the majors. Nunez was a clubhouse favorite in San Francisco and performed well for them. They appear to want to compete rather than rebuild, so Nunez will fit perfectly at 3B back in the Bay Area.
Jhoulys Chacin (30)- Angels, 3 Years/$33M
The Angels continue to put together a decent rotation with Garrett Richards, the signing of Tyler Chatwood and now Jhoulys Chacin. Chacin turned in a fine season for the San Diego Padres in 2017 with a 3.89 ERA in 180.1 IP with 153 strikeouts. This is the type of high floor/low ceiling starting pitching the Angels need to invest in. With the offense I have them assembling, this staff will have a lot of runs to work with.
Neil Walker (32)- Brewers, 3 Years/$30M
Walker came over to the Brewers from the Mets in a waiver trade in August and proceeded to inject veteran leadership and offensive stability at 2B for the Brew Crew. He had a .843 OPS in 149 PA after the trade and can play second and first base. The Brewers could trade for Detroit 2B Ian Kinsler, but I think they stick with what they know in Walker and save their prospects
Carlos Gonzalez (32)- Rockies, 2 Years/$30M
The Rockies did not offer Carlos Gonzalez a qualifying offer which is $17.4M this season. Gonzalez got off to an awful start to the season before turning it on in August and finishing the season with a .262/.339/.423 slash line.
Which is really quite remarkable after his horrid first half. I think Colorado will want him back, just at a lower cost than the QO. I see a $30M deal total, but the 2nd year will be a team option. He will have to prove he still has it, but Colorado knows what they have in him when he is right.
Andrew Cashner (31)- Rangers, 3 Years/$30M
Cashner had a decent season for the Rangers with a 3.40 ERA. He is a ground ball machine who ate up 166.2 innings for Texas in 2017. Texas will need the middle of the rotation help behind Hamels and Darvish and Cashner provides that.
Brandon Morrow (33)- Cardinals, 3 Years/$27M
The Cardinals are in need of bullpen arms. Losing Trevor Rosenthal to Tommy John surgery and now an outright release, as well as free agent Sueng-hwan Oh will open up opportunities for them to bolster the bullpen.
Morrow has had a very checkered injury history during his days in Toronto but was absolutely filthy for the Dodgers in 2017 with a 2.06 ERA and 50 K in 43.2 IP. When healthy, Morrow is one of the most dominant relievers in baseball. He will fit perfectly in the back end of the St. Louis pen with Tyler Lyons.
Zack Cozart (32)- Reds, 2 Years/$25M
Another player who was not given a qualifying offer by his team, but I feel they still want him back. Cozart exploded offensively this year, his age 31 season. Before that, he had been a below average hitter in the majors.
His career OPS+ is 92 and he had a 141 OPS+ in 122 games in 2017. He has always battled knee injuries and hasn’t played more than 140 games since 2014. He is more valuable to the Reds than another team right, so he stays in Cincy.
C.C. Sabathia (37)- Yankees, 2 Years/$25M
The Yankees have two open rotation spots behind Tanaka, Gray, and Severino. That is a very formidable top of the rotation. They will need to backfill their 4th and 5th spots.
Sabathia has already expressed his interest in returning to the Bronx, so the fit is logical for the Yankees to bring him back on a team-friendly two-year deal. He turned a very fine season for the Yankees this past year with a 3.69 ERA in 148.2 IP and 120 strikeouts, showing that even as he’s about to turn 37 years old, he still has it.
Yonder Alonso (31)- Mariners, 2 Years/$24M
Much like Justin Smoak and fellow free agent, Logan Morrison, Alonso altered his swing after buying into the new launch angle concept and changed his career. He had never hit more than 9 HR in a season dating back to 2012.
He smacked 28 HR in 2017 between time spent in Oakland and Seattle. Adding on a career-high .501 slugging % and 133 OPS+. He won’t get the same type of contract as Morrison due to track records, but Seattle will be happy to have their newfound slugging 1B back in the Northwest
Alcides Escobar (31)- Royals, 3 Years/$21M
While Escobar isn’t known for his bat, he can straight pick it up the middle. Escobar has declined a bit defensively but is still a fine major league SS. Unfortunately for the Royals, this will be the only one of the core four players that they will retain
Trevor Cahill (30)- Padres, 3 Years/$21M
Much like fellow free agent, Jake Arrieta, Cahill’s career was saved by pitching coach Chris Bosio. The Cubs picked up Cahill during the summer of 2015 and changed his entire approach. He has seen a huge uptick in strikeouts since then and while has not had major success as a starter, he has been an outstanding reliever.
Between San Diego and Kansas City, Cahill had 87 K in 84 IP. In 2016 with the Cubs, he had a 2.74 ERA as a reliever with 66 K in 65.2 IP. This will be a nice piece for San Diego in the back end of their pen, especially if they do choose to cash in and trade Brad Hand.
Bryan Shaw (30)- Red Sox, 3 Years/$21M
Shaw has been used a lot by Cleveland over the past few years. He has shown to be a reliable middle reliever who can get a strikeout per inning on average. He will provide depth to the leaky Boston bullpen.
Melky Cabrera (33)- White Sox, 2 Years/$20M
The White Sox are still rebuilding. They have discussed trading their current RF, Avisail Gacia. It only makes sense to add their former OF, Melky Cabrera. He can help tutor the young and upcoming stars they have on the way. They also need bodies at this point. Guys who can fill a role and play out the season. Melky was a clubhouse favorite, so the fit is there.
Chris Tillman (30)- Padres, 2 Years/$20M
Tillman was abysmal over the past season. There is no sugar coating it. He finished the injury-riddled season with a 7.84 ERA in 93 IP. He battled some shoulder trouble, to which it sounds like he has recovered from. I think the Padres take a short-term chance on him and hope the spacious Petco Park can help with the home run problems.
Jonathan Lucroy (32)- Rockies, 3 Years/$18M
Let’s be clear, this is no the same Lucroy we all saw excel as a Milwaukee Brewer. He is a shell of his former self. His time spent in Texas was a mess. They shipped him to Colorado this past July, and he exploded onto the scene for them with a .310/.429/.437 slash line. He seemed to fit seamlessly into the clubhouse and I expect Colorado to bring him back.
Carlos Gomez (32)- Royals, 2 Years/$18M
Despite missing some time in 2017 with injuries, Gomez turned in a decent season for Texas and his $11.5M deal. He hit 17 HR and had a 106 OPS+ while still serving as a decent OF. I see this fit as a cheap route Kansas City can go to in order to replace Cain in CF.
Juan Nicasio (31)- Cardinals, 3 Years/$18M
Nicasio had a whirlwind end of the season. He was traded from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia at the August deadline then a week later was traded to St. Louis. A failed starter turned reliever, Nicasio was fantastic for the Cardinals in 11 IP to close out the season. He had a 1.64 ERA and struck out 11 with no walks. Nicasio paired with Morrow will provide the Cardinals with quality options to close out games they ended up losing in 2017.
Jake McGee (31)- Cubs, 3 Years/$18M
LHP Justin Wilson was a mess for the Cubs after coming over from Detroit in a July trade. He was even left off the NLCS roster. He is still under control with the Cubs, but they will need a little more security from the left side.
McGee has proven to be a reliable left-handed reliever for the Rays and Rockies. He turned in a 3.61 ERA with 58 K in 57.1 IP. His 2.93 FIP suggests he pitched even better than his ERA. The Cubs need bullpen help, McGee is their man.
Tony Watson (32)- Dodgers, 3 Years/$18M
Watson is a left-handed reliever who can pitch in the majors, so he will get paid. The problem I have with Watson is he doesn’t get as many strikeouts as I would like to see out of a reliever and tends to walk too many. The Dodgers need help from the left side and can’t afford to let him walk. He will be back with LA.
Mike Minor (30)- Brewers, 3 Years/$18M
Minor missed the 2015 and 2016 seasons due to labrum surgery in his pitching shoulder. He came back with the Royals as a dominant left-handed reliever out of their bullpen. He had a 2.55 ERA with 88 K in 77.2 IP in 2017. Due to his checkered health history, he will take a bit of a pay cut, but the Brewers need a left-hander in their pen. Minor is a good fit for them.
Austin Jackson (31)- Athletics, 2 Years/$17M
The A’s are in a youth movement. Although it feels like they are always in perpetual rebuild. Jackson is a veteran that can stabilize CF for them. Jackson had a remarkable half-season with the Indians. He played in 85 games and slashed .318/.387/.482 with 29 extra base hits. He will likely be flipped at the deadline if he hits like that in Oakland, but he can help during his time there.
Welington Castillo (31)- White Sox, 2 Years/$16M
The market for catchers, especially starting catchers, is going to be extremely thin. There are only a couple teams who will need a starting catcher for 2018. The White Sox are one of them. They have nothing to speak of at the position and need to sell tickets with a respectable roster.
Despite the rebuild, the White Sox dip into free agency and sign “Beef” Castillo. Castillo has been a very good hitting catcher with the Orioles, Diamondbacks, and Cubs. He slashed .282/.323/.490 with 20 HR for the Orioles in 2017. He will fit in nicely with Abreu, Moncada, and Garcia in the middle of their order.
Anthony Swarzak (32)- Brewers, 2 Years/$16M
The Brewers continue to bolster their bullpen behind their stud closer, Corey Knebel, with the additions of Mike Minor and Anthony Swarzak. Swarzak came over to Milwaukee via trade in July this past year from the Chicago White Sox. In 29 innings with the Brewers, he struck out 39 and had a 2.48 ERA in helping stabilize their shaky pen outside of Knebel. They liked what they saw and bring him back on a very team friendly deal.
Jon Jay (33)- Royals, 2 Years/$15M
The Royals will need some veteran depth after losing the majority of their starting lineup to free agency. An outfield of Bonifacio, Soler, Jay, Gordon, and Gomez will give them flexibility and leadership to teach the younger guys. It’s a win-win for Kansas City to sign Jay.
Jason Vargas (35)- Orioles, 1 Year/$13M
The Orioles had one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball last year. As I said with the signing of Lance Lynn, the Orioles want to compete in 2018 during the final year of Adam Jones and Manny Machado’s contracts.
Vargas got off to a very hot start last year and cooled off towards the end, but still finished his season with the Royals with a 4.16 ERA and 134 K in 179.2 IP. He will eat up innings for Baltimore and keep them in the game as a solid #4 starter behind Gausman, Bundy, and Lynn.
Lucas Duda (32)- Angels, 2 Years/$12M
The Angels cannot go into 2018 with CJ Cron at 1B. If they want to continue to build around Mike Trout for their final 3 seasons with him under his current deal. The Angels lack left-handed power as they are stacked with right-handers in Trout, Pujols, and Upton. Signing Duda and Moustakas really balance their lineup out. Watch out for the Angels in 2018.
Jesse Chavez (34)- Athletics, 2 Years/$12M
Billy Beane traded away all of his decent bullpen pieces in 2018. Adding Jesse Chavez will provide some depth along with a swingman who can spot start as well.
Chris Iannetta (35)- Rangers, 2 Years/$10M
Iannetta had a career year for the Diamondbacks in 2017. He slashed .254/.354/.511 with a 114 OPS+. The Rangers need a catcher since losing Lucroy and Iannetta provides an inexpensive solution.
Mark Reynolds (34)- Rockies, 2 Years/$8M
The Rockies are getting the band back together with Gonzalez, Holland, Lucroy, Neshek, and Reynolds. Mark Reynolds had a very good year slashing .267/.352/.487 with 30 HR and 97 RBI. He is built for Coors Field and will man 1B there for the next 2 years.
Jose Bautista (37)- Rays, 1 Year/$8M
Bautista had a subpar season in 2017 for the Blue Jays. He hit a career-low .203 with a career-high 170 strikeouts. Tampa Bay needs a DH and Bautista gives it one last ride with Rays as their DH.
Pat Neshek (37)- Rockies, 1 Year/$8M
Neshek had an outstanding age 36 season between Philadelphia and Colorado with a 1.59 ERA with 69 K in 62.1 IP. He will parlay that into another chance with the Rockies in 2017.
Francisco Liriano (34)- Astors, 1 Year/$6M
The Astors traded for Liriano before the July trade deadline and served his purpose as a lefty out of the pen. With all of their question marks as far as injuries in their rotation he comes back to serve as a swing an out of their bullpen.
Alex Avila (31)- Cubs, 1 Year/$2.5M
Avila came over from the Detroit Tigers in a July trade and proceeded to serve his purpose as Willson Contreras‘ back up catcher. I think the Cubs bring him back on a one year deal because David Ross isn’t coming back.
Nick Hundley (34)- Giants, 2 Years/$2.5M
Hundley has expressed his interest in returning to the Giants and he did a fine job as Buster Posey’s back up. Nick Hundley will return to SF in 2018.
That wraps it up, let me know what your thoughts on this are! If you think I missed something and want to yell at me for it, please let me know in the comments. One thing is for sure, it is going to be an exciting MLB offseason and free agency is just scraping the barrel
Thanks for reading!