The MLB off season is beginning to wrap up, but there are still some really good free agents on the market that are yet to be signed. Most of free agency has wrapped itself up, and we now have a pretty good idea about what each team needs, and how good each team will be. But final spring training rosters have not formed quite yet, and because of that I’m waiting until Februrary to release my 2017 MLB Preview and 2017 Ranking the MLB Teams. For now, we’ll take a look at the best free agents left, and predict where they’ll end up.
Comment your thoughts on my Top 15 and my signing prediction.
Note: Tyson Ross, Jose Bautista and Colby Rasmus aren’t included due to supposed deals they’ve made that aren’t confirmed.
15. Alexei Ramirez SS
2016 Teams: San Diego Padres/Tampa Bay Rays
Ramirez isn’t the same anymore, but there are a few teams who don’t even have a better shortstop, or even a better shortstop option. I think he will be able to get a starting job somewhere, I don’t think he’s worth signing to a team that needs a difference maker at shortstop, but he will fill a hole. He’ll sign with a team that needs a temporary option at shortstop, kind of like Ryan Howard or Juan Uribe at their positions.
My Prediction: Seattle Mariners, 2 years, 12 million
Ramirez could actually be a good fit in Seattle, and Seattle doesn’t really have anyone to take over at shortstop, so I think Ramirez will get two or three years here. Since he has declined, he won’t get the same money he used to, but he will boost the imbalanced Mariners lineup.
14. Brandon Moss OF/1B
2016 Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Moss had a good 2016 season in St. Louis, and he’s a powerful utility that could fit into many schemes. Moss is 33, but he could get a good deal for a couple of years. He will be able to boost a lineup that needs it, or be a final puzzle piece for a team that wants to contend. I could see him fitting into so many schemes, so this prediction was hard. But I was able to narrow it down to a few suitors and I made up my mind.
My Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers, 3 years, $29 million
This is a good fit for Moss. Moss will bring veteran help to a young Brewers lineup, and he will boost the Brewers hitting power and playoff chances. Due to his age, he won’t get that big a deal but he should get a good amount of money and a few years in Milwaukee.
13. Ryan Howard 1B
2016 Team: Philadelphia Phillies
Howard sure isn’t in his prime anymore, but he would be a good veteran mentor in his last few years. The Phillies don’t need him, they have Tommy Joseph now, but Howard should find a job elsewhere. I don’t think Howard will sign a long term deal, but for his next couple years, he will not be left in the depths of free agency. He will find a home in the MLB. The question is, where? Plenty of teams need help at first base.
My Prediction: Houston Astros, 2 years, $8 million
Howard won’t be starting at first base for long, but until Tyler White is a little more developed, Marwin Gonzalez can’t be number 1 on the first base depth chart. They need another first baseman to fill in until White’s ready for an almost full time starting job. Howard will also be a good veteran mentor to the many young developing players that Houston holds. Howard had spent years winning titles in Philly before his decline.
12. Juan Uribe 3B
2016 Team: Cleveland Indians
Uribe did do the job at third for the Indians, at least as an extra option. Jose Ramirez did end up working out for them, so they won’t be needing Uribe back. But he can fill in for another team like that. He’s in a similar situation to Ryan Howard. He’s not a long term commitment, just someone to fill in until a prospect is ready. At his age, he’s not a premier player anymore. He’s going to have to deal with smaller contracts until retirement, but for now Uribe is a helpful short term option for teams that need him at different times. He may even get traded to another team with a similar situation midway through the season. But I don’t think he’ll be left in free agency.
My Prediction: Cincinnati Reds, 1 year, $5 million
Like I said, Uribe is not a long term option, or even an everyday starter. But the Reds aren’t quite ready for a full rebuild in the lineup, so signing a veteran for now will be a decent idea. Uribe will boost the lineup until the Reds are comfortable with their prospects starting and trade all their veterans away. That could happen this season, so I wouldn’t commit long term to Uribe.
11. Chase Utley 2B
2016 Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Utley is no longer in his prime. He was also part of the last era of the Phillies like Ryan Howard. Utley has done pretty well with the Dodgers, and I think he fits nicely. The Dodgers, who have lost Howie Kendrick (ironically, to the Phillies) and Utley, now have a hole at second base. Enrique Hernandez and Micah Johnson aren’t quite ready to take over at second. Will Utley return to LA or grab a contract somewhere else?
My Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers, 2 years, $16 million
Like I said, Utley fits in with the Dodgers and I think he has a couple more years of quality play in him. By the time he enters free agency again, Micah Johnson will be ready to start and Utley might be ready to retire. The timing and the situation work out perfectly. Utley should return to the Dodgers for another two or even three years.
10. Erick Aybar SS
2016 Teams: Atlanta Braves/Detroit Tigers
Aybar wasn’t a fit on the rebuilding Braves, but still could be valuable as a starting shortstop somewhere else. Several teams have vacancies at shortstop, and some of those teams are good teams otherwise, and want to go for the playoffs. Aybar would be a good addition for a team in need of a good shortstop with a powerful bat. I think Aybar is still good enough to handle a full time starting job. The question is, where will that happen?
My Prediction: Washington Nationals, 3 years, $33 million
The Nats lost Danny Espinosa this off season, so they are now in the market for a shortstop. The Nationals need a powerful hitter who can also play well at shortstop, and that’s exactly what Aybar is. If the Nationals want to run at a championship, another big hitter is going to help their case. I think Aybar will fit in well in Washington, and rebound from a rough season.
9. Austin Jackson OF
I don’t think Jackson is a long term commitment anymore, but I think he is worth a try for a team that could use a hand in the outfield. I don’t think he’ll necessarily be looked in to by a playoff contender, but I think he could give a team who needs it some more power in the lineup. he could also be used as a veteran mentor for prospects who are on the verge of breaking through. But I don’t think he’ll be left in free agency.
My Prediction: San Diego Padres, 1 year, $11 million
Like I said, Jackson will be a mentor for prospects. Jackson will be in a full time role to begin the season, but as the season goes on, I would give some of his playing time to younger players. The Padres are pretty pathetic right now, in the middle of an endless rebuild, but a veteran mentor in the outfield will boost the lineup and help teach the prospects that are the future of this team.
8. Pedro Alvarez DH/1B
2016 Team: Baltimore Orioles
Alvarez had a good season as a DH, and although he’s not worth much in the field anymore, he’s one of the best designated hitters on the market, and could be a powerful addition to the lineup for a team. I think Alvarez comes at a low price, so inking him long term soon is a good idea. There are plenty of teams looking for a powerful bat, and Alvarez could put up some pretty good batting stats.
My Prediction: New York Yankees, 4 years, $36 million
The Yankees are pretty good with the young guns, but could use some veteran power in the lineup. I don’t think the rookies are quite ready to be everyday starters. Alvarez will start out starting every day, and then later on start to rotate with the younger players. I think that before the Yankees are playoff level again, their team will benefit from some veteran additions. Even with good younger players, the entire team could use some fine-tuning.
7. Mike Napoli 1B
2016 Team: Cleveland Indians
Napoli had a good 2016 season. He’s still a boom or bust player, that either strikes out a lot or hits dingers, but could be a very valuable lineup addition for a team. He could play first base or DH. Napoli is one of the best home run hitters on the market. The question is, how big is the benefit for signing him?
My Prediction: Baltimore Orioles, 2 years, $24 million
Napoli will get a lot of money, but isn’t worth a 3+ year deal since he is aging fast. The Orioles are a perfect fit for him, as they need a new DH. He’s here to do that. He is one player worth signing to big money. A big one or two year deal is exactly what they’ll do. Napoli deserves a bigger deal than he had on his last contract.
6. Kurt Suzuki C
Suzuki has spent several years in Minnesota, and boosted their lineup but was only okay behind the plate. He could still be used as a catcher, but also a first baseman or DH, like Joe Mauer and Mike Napoli are now. There are plenty of teams that could use a better catcher. The team that signs Suzuki will sign him because they need to fill a hole at catcher. Suzuki is meant to be a full time starter. Where can he sign a deal for that?
My Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers, 3 years, $32 million
The Brew Crew lost Jonathan Lucroy on a team that lacks catcher depth. Suzuki is a good fit to fill the hole and provide some veteran power in the lineup. I know they may make a more interesting move, since they did sign Eric Thames. But Suzuki makes sense for the Brewers, a lot of sense. He’s a good fit, and I think they should sign him.
5. Peter Bourjos OF
2016 Team: Philadelphia Phillies
Bourjos isn’t what he used to be anymore, but he is a potential bargain or steal. I think if you’re looking for someone to fill an outfield hole, Bourjos is one of several options. I don’t think he’ll necessarily be signed by a contending team, but he should be able to play in 2017. The question is, where is he a good fit?
My Prediction: Cincinnati Reds, 2 years, 10 million
The Reds are trying to rebuild, but Bourjos will either be a veteran mentor or someone they can trade for more prospects. They won’t trade him until the prospects they have a little more seasoning. When he’s traded depends on how quickly the prospects develop.
4. Jered Weaver SP
2016 Team: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Weaver may not be an ace anymore, but if you’re looking for another guy in your rotation with good experience, who can fill a bigger rotation role, Weaver could help your team. Weaver could pitch some quality starts for a team that needs them. There are plenty of people that need that, but where exactly where Weaver will fit.
My Prediction: Colorado Rockies, 2 years, $23 million
The Rockies have a really good lineup. They also have an improving bullpen. They have the potential to be awesome. But they need starting pitching. The Rockies don’t have any quality starters, despite a lot of depth. Weaver would provide them with some good top of the rotation pitching.
3. Doug Fister SP
2016 Team: Houston Astros
Fister still has several years of quality pitching left in him, and would take a similar role to Jered Weaver. A middle of the rotation guy that helps a rotation improve overall. Fister is past his prime, but could still do well on a team that needs him. Another team like the Rockies could sign him, a team with a good lineup that needs pitching.
My Prediction: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 4 years, $49 million
The Angels need a quality starter badly. Very badly. They have a good lineup, so if they work to fine-tune what’s currently a terrible rotation over the next couple of years, they could contend. Fister will help revamp an Angels rotation that really lost its steam lately. But that’s just the first step. They have a long way to go.
2. Jason Hammel SP
2016 Team: Chicago Cubs
Hammel had a really good 2016, helping lead the Cubs to win the World Series. I don’t think he’ll resign with the Cubs though. I think he’ll be a very reliable starter for a team that needs one. He should get a big deal after how well he did last year, but you have to keep in mind that he’s 34.
My Prediction: Pittsburgh Pirates, 3 years, $40 million
The Pittsburgh Pirates are beginning to have rotation problems. Supplying the rotation win young pitchers is good but adding another veteran is smart. Hammel is hoping to repeat his 2016 season for the Pirates. I think he could be their ace or second starter at his best. He joins Gerrit Cole as one of the two good veterans in this rotation.
1. Matt Wieters C
2016 Team: Baltimore Orioles
Wieters made a nice return from Tommy John surgery in 2015, and accepted his qualifying offer for 2016. He had a good 2016 season, but was not given an extension before hitting free agency again. Although he good give another team a chance at one of the premier catchers in free agency, the Orioles are in the market to resign him.
My Prediction: Baltimore Orioles, 5 years, $50 million
I could see the Orioles signing him long term. The Orioles could really plummet without him. There would be a hole in their lineup without him. They would have to fill his spot with another player, as their current catcher cannot do what Wieters did in the lineup. Securing him is the best thing you can do.