Welcome to Part 2 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 catchers and infielders on the market.
If you haven’t seen Part 1, click the link 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: Baltimore Orioles, 2 years, $18 million
After the loss of Wellington Castillo to free agency, I could see another veteran catcher like Alex Avila sign here. They haven’t found the young catcher that will replace Matt Wieters yet, so for now, the O’s should try to replace him with experienced veterans like Avila.
My Prediction: Los Angeles Angels, 5 years, $57 million
Lucroy did well in his first and only year in Colorado, batting .265. Although Martin Maldonado was good in year one as a starter, it would be nice for the Angels to have a veteran catcher in their lineup, and Lucroy can hit although his average was a little low for him last year. I expect he’ll bounce back offensively and continue to do well defensively if he signs here.
My Prediction: Miami Marlins, 3 years, $16.5 million
The Marlins could also use a veteran catcher, but Montero will be the back-up for starting catcher J.T. Realmuto if the Marlins don’t trade Realmuto away. Montero hasn’t done as well in recent years, but he will thrive as the Marlins backup catcher.
My Prediction: Arizona Diamondbacks, 3 years, $24 million
The D-Backs are another team that needs a veteran catcher to start in front of either Jeff Mathis or John Ryan Murphy, whoever makes the roster. They could manage with those two, but if they want to contend, Ruiz will help them offensively and defensively.
My Prediction: Chicago Cubs, 2 years, $9 million
Young catcher Willson Contreras will start this year. But I think a veteran behind him in case he struggles in his 2nd full season as a starter would be helpful. Soto will do just that and will be a cheaper signing than guys like Carlos Ruiz, or even Alex Avila.
My Prediction: Oakland Athletics, 2 years, $15 million
The A’s could use a veteran to rotate with young 1B Matt Olson, and Duda seems like a good fit in Oakland. The former Met will also help bring some much-needed power to the lineup. Duda slashed 30 dingers in 2017 despite a lowly .217 batting average.
My Prediction: Colorado Rockies, 3 years, $33 million
Gonzalez is not in his prime anymore, and he’s not necessarily an everyday starter anymore either. But injuries held him back in 2017 and I do not think he’s done yet. He’ll spend his final few years with the Rockies, who could use another bat in a hitter-favorable ballpark. If he gets hurt or is slumping, they can just move OF Ian Desmond back to first and start young OF David Dahl.
My Prediction: San Diego Padres, 5 years, $68 million
I was originally thinking Hosmer would go to Boston, but instead of chasing after him, the Red Sox resigned Mitch Moreland and are going after J.D. Martinez. Although Martinez’s bat would help Boston, I don’t know exactly where he would fit into their scheme, especially with Moreland coming back. Otherwise, they could have either brought Hosmer in or put Martinez at DH and moved Hanley Ramirez to first full time. The Padres are a decent fit for Hosmer, even though his best fit was in Boston, in my opinion. Wil Myers can move back to the outfield, filling a hole they have out there, and Hosmer can play first. They could also use him to replace power hitter and 2B Yangervis Solarte in the lineup, who will likely be replaced in the field by either Cory Spangenberg or a prospect.
My Prediction: New York Mets, 2 years, $12 million
I do not feel that Dominic Smith is quite ready to start at first. For now, I have the Mets bringing in veteran first baseman Logan Morrison. Morrison, who slashed 38 dingers last year, will be a help in the lineup and in the field. Morrison will help the Mets try to return to their 2016 form. With the combination of a couple more veterans to finish off the lineup and the healthy return of the dominant Mets rotation, there’s a chance that they can make it happen.
My Prediction: Seattle Mariners, 2 years, $18 million
The Mariners could also use a veteran to share time with 1B Ryon Healy. Napoli is a little old to start every day so Healy will take over once he develops a little more. Maybe spending some time pinch-hitting or playing DH (Nelson Cruz would play RF) will help him eventually take over Napoli’s short-term role.
My Prediction: New York Mets, 2 years, $19 million
Nunez showed promise last year with the Giants and Red Sox, but can he be trusted as the everyday starter for the Mets if they sign him? The Mets do have 2B Wilmer Flores if he’s not ready to be part of their everyday scheme. Flores may be needed at third if they cannot find another back up for the injured David Wright, but if they can find a backup there, Nunez could be an intriguing signing.
My Prediction: New York Yankees, 3 years, $16.5 million
Peterson batted just .215 last year with just 2 dingers. He did lose at-bats last year due to struggles and the signing of 2B Brandon Phillips, our next free agent in this article. Whoever signs him will be hoping he develops into a better hitter next year. As a utility, he is good in the field, but the Yankees will be looking for a guy who can hit to play second. If Peterson fails, they could consider a trade in the off-season or regular season. I think 2B Robinson Cano might even be someone good to try and retain from Seattle.
My Prediction: Detroit Tigers, 2 years, $14 million
Phillips still has something left in the tank as he showed with 13 dingers, 60 RBI and a .285 average in almost 600 at-bats. The Tigers could use a couple more veteran leaders in the midst of a rebuild, and Phillips is a good fit here and should be one of them.
My Prediction: Cincinnati Reds, 2 years, $13 million
Utley is not necessarily a starter here, just a veteran influence who will share time with fellow middle infielders Jose Peraza and Scooter Gennett. I do think the Reds could use another veteran in addition to Utley, but they could probably find one in the trade market.
My Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers, 4 years, $46 million
Walker looked good in Milwaukee, and I think this is a great fit. Walker should be signed to a long-term deal in Milwaukee as they begin a run for the playoffs. They could use the veteran leader in the middle infield in addition to 2B Jonathan Villar and young SS Orlando Arcia.
My Prediction: Baltimore Orioles, 2 years, $14 million
Aviles is another veteran shortstop who has declined, but the Orioles need a shortstop starter fast. I don’t expect them to chase after a top dog SS like Alcides Escobar, or even trade for SS Xander Bogaerts. But a short-term signing like Aviles might be reasonable, and they might even want to re-sign Ryan Flaherty to platoon with him.
My Prediction: Miami Marlins, 1 year, $5.5 million
Aybar is not an elite shortstop anymore, but he could be a good addition to Miami as a backup to SS J.T. Riddle, or potentially a short-term starter if Riddle is not ready yet. He will have a similar role to what he did in San Diego, but with even less time as the #1 guy at shortstop. Aybar’s career went downhill since he was traded to Atlanta prior to 2016, and don’t expect him to return to his 2015 form all the sudden.
My Prediction: Washington Nationals, 2 years, $13 million
Drew did well as a backup for Trea Turner last year in Washington, but didn’t get that many appearances. I see him returning to the Nats in a similar role, but this time he will back up at multiple positions in the infield as he takes on more of a utility role. The Nationals could use backup in other infield spots as well, and Drew will help take care of that.
My Prediction: Kansas City Royals, 3 years, $46.5 million
I doubt the Royals will resign all the guys they lost in free agency this year, like 1B Eric Hosmer, OF Lorenzo Cain and 3B Mike Moustakas. But Escobar would be a good veteran influence going into the new era in Kansas City. I know Raul Mondesi may be ambitious to start, but he can probably platoon somewhere in the infield and eventually take over for Escobar before this contract expires. Hosmer could also do this job if he’s left around, but they’ll only sign one. Besides, for the most part, it’s time for a rebuild. Maybe they’ll sign a couple more infield veterans just to back up for the rookies too.
My Prediction: Detroit Tigers, 3 years, $36 million
Hardy’s time in Baltimore might finally be over. I see him heading to Detroit as another veteran influence to play alongside Brandon Phillips. Don’t be fooled and think they could go for a playoff run after signing Phillips and Hardy. Phillips and Hardy will not start all the time, and they need to develop their prospects eventually. According to Al Avila, it’s time, as he already traded away guys like OF J.D. Martinez, who is now a free agent.
My Prediction: Chicago White Sox, 3 years, $39 million
After a strong 2017 season, I think Escobar still has something left in the tank, even at age 35. He is not an expensive purchase anymore though as he gets closer to retirement age. I see Escobar signing in Chicago, where they could use a veteran at third as they cope with a rebuild and need some veteran influences. Escobar will be one of them, and even with Escobar starting at third, at least this year, Yolmer Sanchez, Yoan Moncada, Tyler Saladino and Tim Anderson will still all get significant time on the field.
My Prediction: New York Yankees, 4 years, $56 million
I thought Frazier was a great fit in a Yankees uniform, and he thrived with the Yankees after getting off to a rough start to the season in Chicago. After being dealt to New York, he improved. Now that the Yanks traded 3B Chase Headley back to where they got him in San Diego, they need a full-time third baseman, and if Frazier can keep up what he had in New York last year, he could be the man for the job.
My Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals, 3 years, $54 million
St. Louis would be a great fit for both 1B Eric Hosmer and 3B Mike Moustakas, but they will only sign one as they have Matt Carpenter to play whatever infield position they cannot fill. The middle infield is all set between Jedd Gyorko, Paul DeJong, and Kolten Wong. But they could use a veteran 1B or 3B after the recent departures of both Aldemys Diaz and Matt Adams. I believe Moose can thrive here, but the Cardinals will have to be willing to give him a good-sized contract. Matt Carpenter will stay at first will Moose starts at third like he did in Kansas City.
My Prediction: Kansas City Royals, 2 years, $16 million
Plouffe is not necessarily a starter here, but it will be nice to have a backup if 3B Hunter Dozier or INF Cheslor Cuthbert turns out to flop. Plouffe will also serve the role of another veteran influence alongside SS Alcides Escobar, OF Alex Gordon, and most of the Royals strong rotation. This is not a long term signing though as I am sure someone will secure the starting job within the next one or two years.
My Prediction: New York Mets, 2 years, $18 million
Reyes will fill in while 3B David Wright recovers from back surgery. I’m thinking some sort of platoon could start when Wright returns, especially if Wright is not quite himself after surgery.
That’s all for Part 2 of my free agent predictions. Stay tuned for Part 3, where I discuss outfielders in the market, and potential trade ideas for teams across the league.