Welcome to the third and final part of my 2018 MLB Free Agent and Trade Predictions. Free agency has been off to a slow start, but it’s far from over. Players like 1B Eric Hosmer, SP Jake Arrieta, SP Yu Darvish, and 3B Todd Frazier will eventually be signed. But where will they go? That’s the biggest question, and I’m about to try to answer it. Today I will be predicting landing spots for the MLB’s best outfielders on the market, and trade ideas.
Free agency is finally kicking into gear, and my predictions have been shaken up after the Giants traded for OF Andrew McCutchen and signed CF Austin Jackson. I had originally predicted Lorenzo Cain to sign here, but after these two moves, I was reconsidering and began a prediction for Cain to sign in Milwaukee.
Then soon after, it happened, and the market shook up again when the Marlins dealt their last sign of hope to the Brewers in Christian Yelich. Just hours later, the Brew Crew signed Cain and suddenly had a good problem. They had five “starting outfielders” on their roster or five outfielders that could use a starting job. Now, the question is, will they trade Domingo Santana or Keon Broxton? Will Ryan Braun play first base as he said he is open to? Find out my thoughts on that and much more below.
If you haven’t seen the first two parts, click the links below:
Photo Credit: ESPN (ESPN updates the player photos when players sign with new teams, so once the off-season is over, you will be able to check back and see how I did. It currently shows the player’s most recent team)
My Prediction: Texas Rangers, 1 year, $9 million
Bautista doesn’t have many more years left in him. He looked like he was on the decline last year, and as the Blue Jays are ready to let younger players take over in the outfield, he will not be signing another 1-year deal with them. However, the Rangers could use one more veteran outfielder to add depth to the outfield and to be a role model for guys like Nomar Mazara and Delino DeShields. He will not sign a long-term deal though as I do not think he has more than one or two good years left.
My Prediction: Atlanta Braves, 3 years, $42 million
The Braves are another team that lacks outfield depth. Bringing back a power hitting veteran like Cabrera is a smart choice because this young lineup needs some power, and the outfield needs another option in left field beside Preston Tucker or Lane Adams. After playing here in 2010, this would be Cabrera’s second stint in Atlanta, so he at least vaguely knows the organization.
My Prediction: Chicago White Sox, 2 years, $17 million
The White Sox lack a definitive group of major league ready outfielders as they enter a rebuild, so signing one more veteran at that position would be helpful. It doesn’t have to be a big move, just someone who can start for them like Rajai Davis. They don’t need anyone for more than a couple years either due to the fact that they’ll have more outfielders ready to start in a couple years.
For now, while Davis plays left, Adam Engel and Charlie Tilson can work out some sort of platoon in center. Then as time passes, guys like top prospect Eloy Jimenez or RF Willy Garcia could take over for Davis, and Engel and Tilson could get more time as starters.
My Prediction: Miami Marlins, 3 years, $24 million
After trading away outfielders Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, the Marlins are in rebuild mode and will have a new look outfield this year. But they need a couple more ready to start players in case new outfielders Lewis Brinson, Braxton Lee or Magneuris Sierra cannot handle full-time jobs yet. Dyson is one of the younger outfielders on the market and would be a good fit in Miami to play this role.
My Prediction: Miami Marlins, 1 year, $7 million
Although Ethier is injury prone and his bat may not be as powerful as it used to be, he would be a good veteran influence in Miami if he stays healthy. If he gets hurt, the Marlins will likely have Braxton Lee or Magneuris Sierra ready to be in a full-time job. After missing most of 2017 with injuries, the Marlins will have to hope that he’s still a reliable starter and that he doesn’t get hurt, so there are some risks to this signing.
However, I think it will happen as the Marlins need a veteran influence for these young outfielders. Part of me does not understand why the Marlins are rebuilding so early, but it might be because they want to deal their stars away before they lose value and the Marlins become an old, mediocre team with nowhere to go.
An early rebuild gives them the opportunity to acquire a lot of young talent in exchange for some of their current starters, but they still need some veteran influences to start until the young guys are ready. Don’t expect the Marlins to be anything more than a 70-win team though, with or without veterans. The Marlins missed the window to contend with their last era of players, can they contend with this new squad?
Right now, if they sign Ethier and Jarrod Dyson, I could see Lewis Brinson and Dyson in full-time jobs, while Ethier and Magneuris Sierra platoon.
My Prediction: Baltimore Orioles, 2 years, $23 million
Baltimore would be a good fit for Gomez, who will bring some power to the lineup of whatever team he signs with. The O’s have a powerful lineup, but after losing Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy’s bats over the last two off-seasons, they could use one more power hitter to top the lineup off. They never really found a powerful replacement in the lineup for Wieters, and this will also fill their hole in the outfield.
My Prediction: Seattle Mariners, 3 years, $34.5 million
Even after acquiring Dee Gordon to play outfield, I don’t trust the Mariners outfield to come through right now. Maybe they could consider trading away 2B Robinson Cano to open up second for Gordon before spring training. But they will only do that if they can get a starting outfielder in return. Either way, signing Gonzalez is a good move for them. He will be a veteran influence on the young guns as he is a strong player in the field and at the plate. Although he has declined, I could see a bounce-back year in the works. If he doesn’t bounce back, they have platoon mates ready for him such as Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia or Mitch Haniger.
My Prediction: Oakland Athletics, 2 years, $22 million
In an effort to finally break through this season, the A’s could use another veteran in their outfield. Even with Dustin Fowler and Boog Powell among others ready to start, there are no locks for Oakland’s third starting outfielder. Jay is a good fit for them, as although he is not necessarily an everyday starter, the A’s can let the younger guys rotate with Jay and fellow starter Stephen Piscotty, while star left fielder Khris Davis starts daily.
Give him a two or three-year deal to come to Oakland, and when his contract expires, the younger players will be ready for a full-time role. For now, they can have Jay start some games in center, where they desperately need another option.
My Prediction: Boston Red Sox, 5 years, $75 million
There have been so many rumors that this deal will happen, that I’d almost consider it inevitable. The Red Sox are probably just waiting because there hasn’t been much buzz surrounding Martinez or much of a rush to sign him. Martinez will probably play a mix of DH and outfield during his time in Boston, but either way, he will bring the some of the power the Red Sox need to make up for the loss of David Ortiz’s presence in the lineup. But none of the home run hitters on the market can make up for what the Sox lost when Big Papi retired.
My Prediction: San Francisco Giants, 2 years, $19 million
I know that the Giants have already spent a lot on their outfield this off-season between Cutch and Austin Jackson. But I think Jackson could use a veteran platoon-mate. Werth still should have a couple good years left in him, and he may not be an everyday starter anymore, but I see him as a great fit in San Francisco. They could have younger players like Jarrett Parker or Gorkys Hernandez rotate with A-Jax, but I think the Giants had three major priorities this off-season: fix the outfield, get a new third baseman to replace the washed-up Pablo Sandoval, and add a couple more starters.
They have already acquired Evan Longoria to play third and A-Jax and Cutch in the outfield. So if they sign one more outfielder and add a little depth to the starting five, they could be legitimate contenders, even in one of the tightest divisions in the MLB.
Peter Bourjos (PHI, 2 years, $16 million)
Alejandro De Aza (CIN, 1 year, $4.5 million)
Matt Holliday (HOU, 1 year, $6 million)
Cameron Maybin (LAD, 2 years, $17 million)
Colby Rasmus (PHI, 2 years, $14 million)
Ben Revere (DET, 1 year, $3.5 million)
Michael Saunders (CLE, 2 years, $12 million)
Trade Ideas: These trades would work on both sides, but it’s doubtful that most of them actually go through
Boston Red Sox trade DH Hanley Ramirez & SP prospect Williams Jerez to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for SP Kyle Gibson (In this case, the Sox would sign 1B Eric Hosmer or OF/DH J.D. Martinez)
If they can find a destination for Hanley Ramirez, it would give the Red Sox some flexibility in the free agent market. They’ll be able to sign a free agent DH or first baseman and get him into a full-time role. It would’ve given them even more flexibility to just forget about resigning Mitch Moreland because then Hanley could play whatever position they cannot fill in free agency, either DH or first base. But it’s too late for that.
It will be tough for them to dish away Hanley’s contract though. Who would want to take that on? The only team that I think might be up for it is the Twins, who could be looking for an upgrade at DH over Kennys Vargas. However, it would be nice, especially if we can get a decent starter in return like Gibson. It would be nice just to have another option in the rotation in case Price or E-Rod struggles. In the meantime, we could sign either Eric Hosmer or J.D. Martinez to fill our need for a power hitter, and they would have a full-time role for whichever one they sign.
In this case, signing Hosmer would mean Hosmer plays first and Moreland plays DH, and signing Martinez would mean that Moreland stays at first and Martinez replaces Hanley at DH.
New York Yankees trade OF Brett Gardner, INF prospect Gleyber Torres, and OF prospect Jake Cave to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for 2B Robinson Cano
I was suggesting that the Mariners consider trading Cano to open up second base for the newcomer Dee Gordon, but it would be crazy if this happened. This would just give the Yankees another home run hitter when they already got Giancarlo Stanton this off-season. I even have them re-signing 3B Todd Frazier.
But it would be a good trade on both sides as the Yankees fill the hole that Starlin Castro left, and the Yankees already have enough outfielders with Hicks, Judge, Ellsbury, and Stanton out there. Cano knows the offensive scheme in New York too, and that always helps. They do need a DH, but they have guys like Tyler Austin and Miguel Andujar that could become a full-time DH. This is also good on Seattle’s end, as they open up second base for Gordon and get a much needed full-time outfielder in return. It’s a nice thought, but it would be absurd if this actually went through.
Tampa Bay Rays trade OF Kevin Kiermaier to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for 2B Devon Travis
I don’t think the Jays are done dealing. Even with Curtis Granderson and Randal Grichuk on the roster, I think the Jays could use one more outfielder. Kiermaier is a great fielder who can fill that need. The Jays don’t really need Travis anymore since they traded for 2B Yangervis Solarte. On Tampa’s side of things, they already have a surplus of starters in the outfield, and first base is their biggest offensive hole. Acquiring a second baseman like Travis will allow Brad Miller to spend some time playing first while Travis shares time with Micah Johnson and/or Joey Wendle at second.
Texas Rangers trade 3B Adrian Beltre to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for SP Julio Teheran and RP Mauricio Cabrera
This might be the craziest trade I’ve predicted yet. I highly doubt this will happen, but if it did, it would work for both teams. The Braves will be able to give their younger pitchers more time in the starting five, and they will fill their gaping hole at third that was left by Adonis Garcia when he left to play in Korea.
Meanwhile, in Texas, they would acquire a flame-throwing reliever looking to bounce-back from an injury-riddled season (Cabrera) and a top-tier starter to grab the second spot in the rotation behind Cole Hamels (Teheran). With Beltre out of Texas, 3B Joey Gallo will finally have a full-time job as well. I doubt this will happen, but it is an intriguing trade that would shake up the rosters of both of these teams.
Milwaukee Brewers trade OF Domingo Santana and SP prospect Freddy Peralta to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for SP Danny Salazar
This would balance out the rosters of both the Indians and Brewers. Of all the trades I’m predicting, this is the most likely to happen. It is practically a perfect fit on both sides. The Indians have already been open to trading Salazar, as, since the end of 2017, they have had six valid starters. Without Salazar, they will still have a solid rotation as seen below:
- Corey Kluber
- Carlos Carrasco
- Trevor Bauer
- Josh Tomlin
- Mike Clevinger
Meanwhile, with the addition of Salazar, the Brewers rotation will begin to look more intriguing, and they will look more like a playoff team as seen below:
- Danny Salazar
- Yovani Gallardo
- Zach Davies
- Chase Anderson
- Jhoulys Chacin (He will start until Jimmy Nelson returns)
Despite a defined ace, they will have multiple pitchers with ace potential. Meanwhile, the Brewers will be able to cut down their outfield to three everyday starters in Cain, Yelich, and Braun. Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips can back them up. The Indians outfield will finally have the right-handed everyday starter they need in Santana.
He will start alongside Michael Brantley, and either Bradley Zimmer, Lonnie Chisenhall, Brandon Guyer, or someone else. The Indians have Melvin Upton Jr. signed to a minor league deal as well, and I could see him returning to the majors. The point is, the Indians will at least have two defined starters after this trade, and both teams will fill a crucial need and give up a player at a position they have plenty of depth at.
That’s all for my 2017-18 MLB Free Agency Predictions. Feel free to comment on any of these articles with your thoughts. In addition, if you haven’t seen my APEX go-kart experience article yet, click the link below:
While I was there, my dad and I faced off in NFL Blitz, and we simulated the Super Bowl LII match-up. Playing as the Pats, my dad beat me (as the Eagles), 31-3. I was unhappy that I lost, but also happy that the Pats won our simulation. As for the real Super Bowl, I will have an in-depth look at it throughout this week, so stay tuned.