With the holidays ending and a new year beginning, it’s time to get back to business and make deals again! There are several big names on the market but few places for them to go. Teams need to take advantage of these players before other teams do if they expect to improve their lineups and rosters and stay in contention with teams who have already made the moves to improve their clubs.
Every free agent can help any of the 30 clubs out whether it’s a new starting outfielder, starting pitcher, or bench player. With these six free agents on the market, here are the best landing spots for each player.
1 Yu Darvish: Texas Rangers
The Rangers missed the playoffs last season and are looking for anyone who can help them get back to the top of the AL West. The Rangers have the depth on offense but their pitching staff and bullpen are another story. Even when Texas traded Yu Darvish to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July, they somehow kept themselves in the postseason race until the end of September. Now it’s time for the Rangers to bring Darvish back, especially since he's fresh off a World Series appearance with the Dodgers.
It would be an alarming move since Darvish struggled in the postseason, but the Rangers don’t have a true ace in their rotation at this point in the offseason. They failed to sign Shohei Otani and Cole Hamels, though talented, isn’t getting any younger. With that said Darvish is a perfect fit for Texas and the Rangers can afford to bring him in for the long run, especially if they see themselves contending in an already competitive AL West.
2 Eric Hosmer: Kansas City Royals
If you read my article on why the Royals are a better fit for Eric Hosmer than the San Diego Padres, then you’ll know it’s a no-brainer that the Royals need Hosmer next season. If the Royals expect to build another winning group of players, they need a veteran who went through the process and can do it again. Hosmer is 28, meaning he should enter his prime years starting next season.
Hosmer is an above average fielder and above average hitter who generates consistent power. Plus, the Royals having Hosmer could make them a force in the AL Central for the next few years while the Tigers and White Sox are expected to contend with the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians after 2018. Without Hosmer, the Royals could fall into another long postseason drought like they did from 1985 to 2014, especially if the system works for the White Sox and Tigers like it has for the Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, and Royals.
3 Jake Arrieta: Seattle Mariners
There are a lot of arguments for why Jake Arrieta would fit on any club that’s looking to improve their starting pitching. The Cubs would love to keep Arrieta but after his injury-plagued 2017 season, it may be time for the team to build pitching for the future, especially if they want to keep winning.
Arrieta is slowly fading from his prime at 31 years old, meaning a long-term contract could be riskier for the Cubs. The Mariners would be a great fit for Arrieta. Seattle is looking for its first postseason berth since 2001 and with Felix Hernandez aging and being more injury prone, Arrieta would be a solid ace or No.2 starter in the Mariners rotation. Plus, with Safeco Field favoring pitchers more than hitters, Arrieta might re-establish the dominance he once had with the Cubs.
4 JD Martinez: Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are still searching for a middle of the order bat that can provide the pop that was sorely missed with the retirement of David Ortiz last season. Because Martinez hired Scott Boras as his agent, the Red Sox seem to be the only team that has the money to sign Martinez in the mega-agent's eyes. Martinez was third in the league in home runs last year with 45 and hit .303 between the Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks. The Red Sox as a club were last in the AL home runs with 168 and 13th in MLB in batting average at .258.
It’s not guaranteed that Martinez will put up the same numbers in Boston like he did last year, but his ability to hit to all parts of the field with power could favor him and Boston matching up. Martinez would also be a counterpunch to what the New York Yankees did in acquiring Giancarlo Stanton earlier this month and with both teams expected to be at the top of the AL East, the old rivalry could be brought back to life with the signing of Martinez.
5 Mike Moustakas: New York Mets
If the Mets expect to bounce back in 2018, they need an upgrade in the lineup at the hot corner of the infield. Third baseman David Wright will never take third base duties the same way again, meaning the Mets need an everyday third baseman that can hit and generate power. Having someone like Mike Moustakas would fill both holes and be a relatively cheap option as the team looks to build their young roster around a veteran with experience in winning.
The Mets will need more than Moustakas in the lineup, but the team is only a few key players away from contending once again, especially in an NL East division that will have the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves to deal with for the next few years, maybe starting as soon as 2018.
6 Jay Bruce: Cleveland Indians
The Indians lost Carlos Santana to the Phillies two weeks ago and with the recent injury history of Michael Brantley, Jay Bruce is better off to stay in Cleveland than go elsewhere. Bruce had a career year between the Mets and Indians last season, hitting a career-high 36 home runs and a driving in 101 runs, the second-best season total of his career. He also helped the Indians win the AL Central for the second year in a row and was a big contributor to their 22-game winning streak.
The Indians have a young outfield and if Brantley’s injuries keep him sidelined over the course of the season, they’ll need an everyday outfielder who can hit for power. Bruce isn’t a great defender, but Terry Francona can play him at first base or put him in as the DH to keep him in the lineup every day. Having Bruce in the lineup will help the Indians stay in the race for the AL Pennant if not help them win the AL Pennant and potentially win a World Series for the first time since 1948.
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