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The Hot Stove felt anything but because throughout most of the end of 2017, as free agents that most assumed would sign for big deals right away didn’t end up signing till nearly the start of Spring Training. Others didn’t sign until several days into the start of the season itself. Despite this waiting game that drove us all mad, let’s take a look at how some of these big names have done so far.
1 Mike Moustakas
If you read anything I wrote about the Mets this offseason, you know I would not stop insisting they Mets sign Moustakas. Most assumed he would sign a huge seven-year deal somewhere. However, no team was ready to cough up that kind of money on Moose, so he stayed in good old KC for one more season.
Based on the numbers he's put up this year so far, I'm sure most teams are kicking themselves for not taking a chance on a longer deal for him. His slash line is currently .298/.333./565 with an OPS of .898. He's already clobbered eight home runs and put up 19 RBI. Just through the month of April, he had a 14-game hit streak. If Moose continues to thrive like this throughout the season, there's no doubt teams will give him a second thought to a long-term deal as their power hitter.
2 Jake Arrieta
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Jake Arrieta wasn't coming off the same kind of season he had in 2016. Most were concerned about his dip in velocity and wondered if maybe his glory days were wrapping up. But not for a team like the Phillies who could definitely use the veteran ace in their rotation while they continue their rebuild.
So how has he faired in the city of brotherly love? Aside from his last start in Miami, where he was rocked for 6 earned runs over 3 2/3 innings, Arrieta has looked solid for the Phils so far. He's been durable, usually pitching into the sixth or seventh innings and typically allowing no more than two runs a game. No doubt a huge help while Philly continues to build around its youthful core of sluggers.
3 JD Martinez
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Martinez was nothing short of explosive for the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks last season. When Boston signed him to a five-year deal, they were no doubt looking for him to be the answer to the Yankees' trade for Giancarlo Stanton.
Just by comparison, Martinez is more than out-slugging the Yankees' power hitter. With a slash line of .345/.392/.584 and an OPS of .976. Stanton's OPS currently rests at .713. Based on his numbers so far, it looks like he's wasted no time picking up right where he left off with Arizona.
4 Shohei Ohtani
Ohtani was the golden ticket that everyone wanted to find, though his debut in MLB has been anything but golden. He's shown flashes of brilliance on the mound and at the plate but seems to struggle a bit in regards to any kind of consistency.
As far as Ohtani's transition to MLB, I think for what he's been able to do so far has been great. What's throwing it all off is that expectations surrounding Ohtani in this offseason were unreasonably high. Though at the plate he's settled in a lot faster than he has on the mound, putting up an OPS of .991.
5 Lorenzo Cain
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Cain has shown no signs of slowing down since returning to the team that initially gave him the start to his MLB career. He's putting up a slash line of .279/.397/.462. with an OPS of .858. He ranks as the number one batting leader in that Brewers lineup, with a WAR of 1.2. beating out both Travis Shaw and slugger Eric Thames.
It looks to have been a solid pick up for the Brewers who definitely tried to build off a successful end to their 2017 season. Cain has more than provided another solid offensive bat to a lineup that already had some bite to it.
6 Todd Frazier
Todd Frazier is a clubhouse man. That was his major selling point when the Mets signed him away from the Yankees in the offseason. Needless to say, based on his 2017 numbers, he wasn't exactly anyone's first choice for the hot corner.
But Frazier has been that clubhouse presence and so much more for the Mets so far this year. He's got the second highest WAR on the team, (1.0) right behind Asdrubal Cabrera. His OPS jumped from .772 to .814. His average, from a lowly .213 to a more respectable .255. But more importantly, he's been better at the plate about drawing walks and seems to come through in the clutch right when the Mets need it, which makes it easier for Mets fans to not feel so bad about letting Moustakas get away.
7 Greg Holland
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Holland signed with the Cardinals just as the first week of the season had kicked off. The only player that signed later was Jose Bautista. Since making his debut in Cardinal Red, Holland hasn't exactly had the best 10 games to start the season.
His ERA is currently resting at a whopping 7.36, and his BB/9 is 9.82. Not exactly an encouraging start for a guy you picked up to be your high-end closer. And in those first 10 games in which he has appeared, he's already notched one blown save. There's still plenty of time for Holland to right the ship but for the Cardinals battling in a snug NL Central, sooner would be better than later.
8 Eric Hosmer
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Eric Hosmer signed one of the biggest free agent deals of the offseason at eight years, $144m. We knew he would get a huge payout this year, but no one expected those numbers.
The Padres have been rebuilding for a while now, and they needed a big name like Hosmer to build around for the next few years. Some were concerned whether this signing was worth the money, but so far he's proved a solid investment for a team that's only won 11 games this year. His slash line is .303/.402./.505 with an OPS of .906. He ranks second in WAR on the team just behind rookie sensation Christian Villanueva.
9 Yu Darvish
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Darvish didn't have a fantastic end to his 2017 season. He pitched well mostly, but the year was capped off with a full-blown implosion in the World Series with the Dodgers.
Still, the Cubs thought it better to sign him, rather than renew a contract with their former ace Jake Arrieta. Here, however, I don't think it worked in the Cubs' favor.
Darvish has struggled to adjust in Chicago. His ERA is currently at a solid 6.00 and his BB/9 is nearly at 5. In his last outing, against the Marlins of all teams, he could only pitch 4.1 innings before the fish rocked him for five runs. It will be interesting to see as the season goes on whether Darvish can pull himself out of this slump or whether the Cubs just got what they paid for.
10 Carlos Santana
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Santana was a solid pick up for the Phillies, who are still trying to finish up the last of their rebuilding seasons. He adds more veteran leadership to a clubhouse that is seeing the rise of a few young stars.
Though leadership may be all that Santana can offer the Phillies right now since his numbers have been less than fantastic. He's putting up a slash line of .151/.295/.274. Between young hot names like Scott Kingery and Rhys Hoskins, Santana seems completely unnecessary in this Phillies lineup. Hoskins has been playing left field to make room for Santana at first, but it appears the Phils could get more mileage out of playing Hoskins at first and having Kingery play left field. Santana could just be off to a slow start but on a Phillies team that's surprising everyone this year, he will have to get the bat going sooner rather than later.
11 Jay Bruce
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Bruuuuuuuuuuuce! The chant once again echoes through the stands at Citi Field. After having a slow career start in New York, Jay Bruce won over the hearts of Mets fans with his solid on-field production and after being loaned to Cleveland for their postseason push, Bruce made his return to the orange and blue.
He's struggled since making that return, only batting .235 with a .683 OPS. But it's not uncommon for Bruce, who's always been a streaky hitter. Think Lucas Duda but with more power. Once he gets going, his OPS should hopefully be consistent somewhere in the .800 range. However, on a Mets team that has scratched out wins with different players each night, it may not be as much of a blow that Bruce is under-performing at the moment.
12 Zack Cozart
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Cozart has struggled a bit since heading west. His current slash line is only .222/.280/.389. His strikeout rate has gone up significantly from last season to about 19% and even worse, his walk rate has dipped from 12% to 5%, which explains for such a poor OBP.
Cozart signed a three-year deal with the Angels and for the time being seems to be their fixture at the hot corner. But he will need to do more at the plate to help this Angels lineup make a proper playoff push this year.
13 Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn
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Both of these guys seemed like solid free agent pickups as back end of the rotation guys, though neither has really dazzled their respective teams this year so far. So much so that I've combined them into a single slide here. For the Orioles, Cobb has been terrible. With a 9.68 ERA, he's not doing his team any favors in a difficult AL East.
As for Lance Lynn, he's not far behind Cobb with a slightly better, yet still atrocious 8.37 ERA, and that's an improvement from where his ERA started the year at 11.25.
Again, there's still a lot of baseball left to be played, but these early starts haven't been great signs for Cobb or Lynn.
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