Where Will the Top Free Agents End Up?

How close are we to baseball season? Now that the holidays are officially in the rearview mirror, we can say baseball will be played “this year” instead of “next year.”

That’s exciting stuff, but it’s likely not as exciting for the incredible number of big leaguers still looking to score a contract for 2019 and (potentially) beyond. It feels as though there’s been a little more action this winter when compared to last offseason’s snail pace, but a ton of top free agents remain unemployed in January.  These free agents will shift the balance of power in Major League Baseball this coming year.  Many fans are starting to make MLB futures wagers and are searching for the best online sports books at OnlineCasinoSnoop.com to make their bets.  The decisions these free agents make will determine how those bets pay off.

Where will they eventually land?

We took a look (and in some cases, another look) at potential landing spots for 10 top free agents, along with trying to pinpoint the best fit(s) for them.

Sep 28, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper (34) bats in the fourth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper

Interested Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs

Best Fit(s)?

We’ve already gone in depth on Harper’s potential market, but some things have changed since then. For instance, the Nationals have reportedly had a number of meetings with their former outfielder and agent Scott Boras. Let’s also not forget that the Dodgers have cleared some payroll (and an outfield roster spot) by trading away Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp.

You can never count out Washington based off their history and how Boras has dealt directly with ownership. However, it’s hard to think the Dodgers aren’t going to try and make a push for the former NL MVP, despite their reported desire for a right-handed impact hitter. Then, of course, there’s always the Phillies, who have money burning in their pocket and are going to have a face-to-face meeting with Harper soon.

At this point, it seems most likely that Philly will land him based on the circumstances, but anything can happen.

Oct 28, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado (8) walks back to the dugout after striking out to the game against the Boston Red Sox in game five of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium. The Boston Red Sox defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Manny Machado

Interested Teams: New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies

Best Fit(s)?

Similar to Harper — and a number of other top free agents we’ll talk about — we previously went into detail with regard to Machado’s potential suitors. Since then, the infielder’s known market has seemingly been focused around the three above teams he visited following the Winter Meetings.

Despite being on the verge of officially signing Troy Tulowitzki and probably not offering Machado the most money, the Yankees still appear to be the frontrunner.

New York is clearly preparing for a scenario where Machado doesn’t choose them, and if he does, it gives them plenty of options while Didi Gregorius is on the disabled list — including floating Miguel Andujar in trade talks.

The Phillies are expected to be the highest bidder for both Harper and Machado, so we’ll see how everything plays out soon enough.

Oct 16, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel (60) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox in game three of the 2018 ALCS playoff baseball series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Keuchel

Interested Teams: Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee Brewers, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros

Best Fit(s)?

You’ll be shocked to know that we’ve also looked at Keuchel’s possible landing spots. However, things may start to pick up since the southpaw now appears to be the best available starter left on the market.

The Reds just feel like such a perfect fit. They’re tired of losing and have been aggressive with regard to making offseason upgrades. Even with Alex Wood and Tanner Roark now in the rotation, they still have a number of question marks. Luis Castillo had an up-and-down sophomore campaign, Anthony DeSclafani has a lot to prove, and Tyler Mahle has struggled with his command through his first 132 big-league innings.

While it’d also be intriguing to see the Brewers make a serious pursuit, that might only happen if the Scott Boras client’s asking price lowers. For a team that was just one win away from the World Series this past October, they also have a number of varying rotation question marks. Between Jimmy Nelson, Brandon Woodruff, Chase Anderson, and Zach Davies, Milwaukee could use a little certainty. Keuchel can provide that — he’s tossed 200-plus innings three times since 2014 and has accumulated fewer than 150 frames in a season once since becoming a full-time big-league starter in 2013.

Oct 27, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) celebrates after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in game four of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Craig Kimbrel

Interested Teams: Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox

Best Fit(s)?

Yes, we also looked at Craig Kimbrel’s possible landing spots in a more in-depth post, but this is the last one, we promise. While it’s clear to see which teams could use a reliever of his caliber, his record-breaking asking price is what’s really holding up his market.

That’s what happens when you’re looking for a six-year guarantee around $100 million.

The Phillies made sense due to their ability to spend, but they may no longer be interested after agreeing to a two-year, $23 million deal with David Robertson. The Cardinals were speculative fits earlier in the winter, but they also pivoted to Andrew Miller.

Kimbrel’s best bet may be lowering his asking price significantly and going back to the Red Sox. Without a real clear market and sky-high contract demands, this could become a wait-and-see situation that feels a lot like the J.D. Martinez situation from last winter.

Boston was interested in Robertson, but didn’t bite on the guarantee he received from Philly. It’ll be interesting to see how long Kimbrel has to wait for a deal to materialize and how far below his original asking price it seems like he’ll fall.

Oct 26, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal (9) hits a single in the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox in game three of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Yasmani Grandal

Interested Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros

Best Fit(s)?

Yasmani Grandal’s market has taken some time to crystallize because of the non-stop J.T. Realmuto rumors. Despite the Miami Marlins’ high asking price, he’s clearly the crown jewel when it comes to catcher acquisitions based on how things have played out thus far.

As for Grandal’s immediate future, a number of the teams currently connected to him don’t make sense unless his contract demands crater. The Indians have been slashing payroll while trying to stay competitive, so that’s not a fit at a multi-year guarantee. The A’s probably won’t be filling their catching need at the top of the market, either. Heck, they just lost Jonathan Lucroy via free agency, who signed for less than $4 million with the Angels.

The Astros have Robinson Chirinos and Max Stassi on their roster, but that hasn’t stopped them from pursuing Realmuto. And Grandal’s most recent employer, the Dodgers, aren’t interested in re-signing him for more than one year.

That leaves the White Sox, who have a ton of financial flexibility, are interested in making progress in their rebuild, and have made subtle upgrades by acquiring Ivan Nova, Yonder Alonso, and Alex Colome. They’ve also signed James McCann to pair with Welington Castillo behind the plate, but neither is a huge financial burden if they decide to switch gears.

Sep 24, 2018; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock (11) hits a solo home run during the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

A.J. Pollock

Interested Teams: New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, Atlanta Braves

Best Fit(s)? 

This is another situation that’s a bit cloudy because of both Pollock’s asking price (around five years and $80 million), along with being behind the big domino (Harper) that needs to fall first.

The Reds still need a center fielder after non-tendering Billy Hamilton, but they’ve already invested a lot of money into the outfield with the acquisitions of Puig and Kemp. The Mets look like the most logical fit based on need since Yoenis Cespedes‘ health is up in the air and the only natural center fielder on the 40-man roster being Juan Lagares.

While the Mets were sincerely interested in Pollock (and probably still are), a pairing here probably will happen unless the oft-injured 31-year-old eases on his contract demands. If not, there’s space on the roster and in the payroll for him with the White Sox.

Oct 16, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros left fielder Marwin Gonzalez (9) flips his bat after singling in a run in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox in game three of the 2018 ALCS playoff baseball series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Marwin Gonzalez

Interested Teams: Washington Nationals, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels, New York Mets, basically any contender

Best Fit(s)?

Trying to pin down Gonzalez’s market is also tough, but that’s because “Swiss G” could fit on just about any club’s roster. He’d be an interesting fit in San Diego, as he could hold shortstop warm for Fernando Tatis Jr. and then move elsewhere when he gets promoted, but it’s hard to shake off the Nats here.

Washington surely has no problem spending money (see Corbin, Patrick) and they have a need at second base. However, it’s reported that their preference is to find a solution on a short-term deal so prospect Carter Kieboom isn’t blocked. Gonzalez, a Boras client, will definitely get a multi-year guarantee, so one might imagine heading to D.C. is out of the cards.

But maybe not. Gonzalez could play second base in 2019, and if the Nats can’t retain third baseman Anthony Rendon (another Boras client), Marwin could shift over to the hot corner. Or, he could slide over to first base since Ryan Zimmerman is approaching the final year of his current contract.

Versatility with the glove is a wonderful thing.

Oct 6, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Zach Britton (53) delivers a pitch during the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox in game two of the 2018 ALDS playoff baseball series at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Britton

Interested Teams: New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox

Best Fit(s)?

With Robertson finding a home in Philly, Britton may now be the next top reliever to sign a contract. He hasn’t recreated the dominant two-year stretch he had with the Baltimore Orioles from 2015-16 (1.22 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 30.2% strikeout rate, 6.2% walk rate, and 83 saves in 132.2 innings), but he’s still a solid and proven veteran option for the back end of any bullpen.

With the Phillies likely out of the picture, this could come down to being a good, old fashioned fight between the Red Sox and Yankees. Although Boston might be more interested in waiting out Kimbrel, they could offer Britton an opportunity to close again. Aroldis Chapman‘s presence doesn’t give the Yankees the luxury of offering that, but Britton has already mentioned he’d take a lesser bullpen role to return to the Bronx.

Sep 27, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Adam Ottavino (0) pitches in the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Ottavino

Interested Teams: New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies

Best Fit(s)?

Ottavino picked the perfect time to have a career year. He posted personal bests in ERA (2.43), hard-hit rate allowed (25.3%), strikeout rate (36.3%), and fWAR (2.0) while drastically cutting down his homers allowed per nine innings (0.58) in 77.2 innings for the Rockies last season.

Colorado is open to retaining him, but they’ve already invested a ton into Wade Davis, Jake McGee, and Bryan Shaw. So who knows how much more flexibility they have to invest in the bullpen moving forward.

There’s a fair amount of overlap in potential suitors for Britton and Ottavino, and for good reason. It’s likely that their eventual landing spots may depend on who signs first. The wild card here could be the White Sox, as they have plenty of space in the payroll to outbid others if they really want to acquire the 33-year-old right-hander to pair with Colome.

Sep 24, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; Oakland Athletics second baseman Jed Lowrie (8) runs the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Seattle Mariners during the fourth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Jed Lowrie

Interested Teams: Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies, Boston Red Sox

Best Fit(s)?

Lowrie has put together consecutive stellar (and nearly identical) campaigns with the Oakland A’s after struggling in 2016. What’s tricky for the veteran second baseman is that he’s looking for a multi-year commitment as he enters his age-35 season.

The Nats and Brewers would both be interesting fits because they’re likely contenders with an opening at second base. At this point in the winter, it’s possible Lowrie would eventually settle for a two-year deal, allowing Washington and Milwaukee to not block their respective up-and-coming second-base prospects.

How fun would it be for the Rockies to make a splash here, though? Their offense has struggled mightily over the past two years, and they just made a significant upgrade by signing Daniel Murphy for two years. He’ll slide into first base, still leaving second open due to DJ LeMahieu‘s free agency. With Nolan Arenado‘s long-term future up in the air, now is the time to make a run at a long trip into October.