After three and a half long and boring months the most wonderful time of the year is back. Full team workouts are getting underway and the first action of the season begins Friday. The only thing missing; notable free agents are still without a team this late into the offseason.
The market has shown promising signs lately though. J. D. Martinez signed a 5 year, 110 million dollar deal with the Boston Red Sox that has 2 opt-out clauses, Yu Darvish signed a 6 year deal with the Chicago Cubs and Eric Hosmer signed a massive 8 year, 144 million dollar contract with an opt-out after 5 years. There have even been minor free agent signings over the last few days, so there’s hope for the remaining big-name players, right? But where do these guys fit best?
Mike Moustakas: Kansas City Royals or New York Yankees
Now that the Royals missed out on Hosmer, Mike Moustakas should be their top priority at this point. There’s a huge vacancy at first base now and though Moustakas is a third baseman, a transition to first wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen for the power slugger. Sure, signing Moustakas would give him a good chance of keeping his third base duties, but Cheslor Cuthbert and Alcides Escobar also need a place to play every day and prospect Hunter Dozier likely won’t be ready for the main roster right out of Spring Training.
As for the Yankees, Moustakas would be a great addition to a lineup that already features Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez. The Yankees could also benefit having a veteran third baseman in a young lineup and infield that features Didi Gregorius up to this point as the most experienced veteran at 28 years old. Plus, Moustakas’s playoff and World Series experience would make him a great addition to a team looking to win its 28th title.
Jake Arrieta: Milwaukee Brewers
It’s safe to say Arrieta’s days as a Cub are over after the signing of Darvish. With that said, the Cubs appear to be the early favorites to win the NL Central for the third straight season, but Arrieta could easily fit on one of the Cubs' division rivals and make the NL Central one of the most intriguing divisions to watch this season.
After missing the playoffs by one game last year the Brewers have shown they’re going all in in 2018 to make the postseason. They signed outfielder Lorenzo Cain for five years and traded top prospect Lewis Brinson to the Miami Marlins for Christian Yelich. The only problem is Milwaukee needs a frontline starter and veteran in the rotation, especially with ace Jimmy Nelson out with a shoulder injury for the first couple of months. Arrieta likely won’t receive a long-term deal but a shorter one, maybe three or four years, isn’t out of the question if the Brewers want to make a counterstatement to the Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals after their busy offseason.
Lance Lynn: Seattle Mariners
If the Mariners expect to compete in the AL West, they need to add more depth to the rotation. Arrieta would be a good fit in Seattle, but Lance Lynn is a cheaper and more consistent option. As of now, the only set starters in the rotation are Felix Hernandez, Mike Leake, and James Paxton. The other two spots are up for grabs but the Opening Day starter hasn’t yet been decided by manager Scott Servais.
Lynn may not be an ace, but he’s one of the best mid-rotation pitchers in the game (72-47, 3.38 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) and has World Series experience. Adding Lynn could be the difference to Seattle snapping a 17-year playoff drought even if it’s just a Wild Card berth at the end of the season.
Alex Cobb: Texas Rangers
Like the Mariners, the Rangers don’t have a lot of certainties for who’ll be in the starting rotation this season. The Rangers lost out on Darvish and Andrew Cashner and if they want to compete in the AL West, they must make a signing happen. The best choice now is to bring in Alex Cobb.
Cobb and Lynn have a lot of similarities in numbers over their careers and the Rangers could easily afford a guy like Cobb without breaking the bank. Cobb also put up a nice bounce-back campaign after Tommy John surgery took him out for nearly 2 seasons, in which he posted a 3.66 ERA and went 12-10 for a Tampa Bay Rays team that took third in the AL East with an 80-82 record. The hope is Cobb is past his Tommy John surgery but either way, he will be in the Rangers rotation on Opening Day barring injury or suspension.
Greg Holland: St. Louis Cardinals
Greg Holland showed last season it’s possible to pitch at Coors Field successfully. Though he stumbled after the All-Star break, he still converted 41 saves in 45 opportunities and posted a very respectful 3.61 ERA for pitching at Coors Field all season. Now that it's likely he’s not returning to Colorado, it’s time for the Cardinals to jump on signing him to a deal.
The Cardinals are looking to return to the postseason for the first time since 2015. After trading for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna and signing relief pitcher Luke Gregerson, the club is still looking for a closer. Gregerson has closed before but has mostly worked as a setup man the last couple of years. The Cardinals signing Holland would give them a guaranteed closer for the year and it would also give them the opportunity to limit the time young star Alex Reyes is on the mound as he’ll be returning from Tommy John surgery last season.