As the MLB offseason has drawn to a close and Spring Training is underway, the hot stove has heated up considerably over the past few weeks as three of the top free agents signed new contracts.
Yu Darvish inked a six-year deal with the Chicago Cubs. Eric Hosmer landed an eight-year contract with the San Diego Padres, and J.D. Martinez finally signed a five-year deal with the Boston Red Sox. All moves many analysts and fans thought was destined to happen from the start of winter.
That still leaves a handful of talented players available for teams to sign. Here’s a look at the top five remaining free agents and the team(s) where each would fit best.
The former Chicago Cubs ace is surprisingly still on the market. After much speculation surrounding him and Darvish, the latter got a lucrative contract with the former’s previous club, and Arrieta remains unemployed.
It might not help that Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, who tends to draw out free agent discussions with teams to get the best deals for his clients, is one of the game’s more polarizing figures.
The most recent rumors have Arrieta linked to the Philadelphia Phillies. While Arrieta may be able to earn more money from a Phillies team with oodles of cap space, the move doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense for an aging pitcher.
Philadelphia isn’t anywhere close to competing in a division that features the Washington Nationals, New York Mets and upstart Atlanta Braves. Philadelphia would most likely be getting the best that Arrieta has to offer at a time when they aren’t capable of legitimately competing.
If Arrieta wants the opportunity to both win now and get a significant pay day, Philly isn’t the answer – Texas is.
The Rangers offer a unique situation for Arrieta. Texas is a veteran club with talented arms in the rotation currently led by Cole Hamels and a lineup headed by the ageless wonder Adrian Beltre and franchise shortstop Elvis Andrus. With the current makeup of the team, adding Arrieta could put the Rangers right back into contention for a Wild Card spot.
Arrieta also attended college at TCU, so the move makes sense from a location standpoint. Arrieta’s running out of time and could very well sign with Philadelphia, but it would be in his – and Texas’ – best interest to get a deal done.
Another surprise has been the lack of significant talks surrounding Moustakas. The third baseman jacked 38 home runs for the Royals while playing half his games in spacious Kauffman Stadium. That’s no small feat.
Potentially signing with the New York Yankees on a short-term deal made sense until New York traded for Brandon Drury. Drury now looks like the everyday third base option with Ronald Torreyes/Gleyber Torres occupying second base.
St. Louis would be wise to scoop up “The Moose.”
The Cardinals are chasing the Cubs, plain and simple. Chicago has a deep, talented pitching staff and loaded lineup. St. Louis can certainly compete on both sides of the ball, but adding Moustakas could make their lineup much more dangerous.
Plugging 38 home runs in the middle of a lineup that already features Tommy Pham, Matt Carpenter, Marcell Ozuna and Yadier Molina makes it that much more difficult for opposing teams to navigate said lineup.
Moustakas isn’t a superstar, but he is a nice power bat and someone with postseason experience and success. If the Cardinals truly want to challenge the Cubs this year, signing Moustakas to take over at third could make for a very interesting NL Central race.
3. Alex Cobb
Alex Cobb would be a solid addition for any postseason contender. He was rumored with the Cubs until they signed Darvish, but he isn’t out of options. The Minnesota Twins have a prime opportunity with Cobb to add a talented veteran pitcher.
The Twins already traded for Cobb’s former Tampa Bay Rays teammate Jake Odorizzi, and Cobb could round out a formidable pitching rotation. Cobb pitched to a 3.66 ERA in the AL East last season and has a consistent track record as a competent second or third starter.
Minnesota’s Jose Berrios is still quite young. Ervin Santana went down with an injury that will sideline him for the first few weeks of the regular season at the least. Having Cobb’s veteran presence in the middle of the rotation could help Minnesota make a jump in the win total in 2018 and get back to the postseason as a Wild Card team.
4. Greg Holland
Holland bounced back from Tommy John Surgery nicely in 2017 with the Colorado Rockies. His 41 saves were tied with the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen for the most in the National League, and he was a key part of the Rockies’ playoff run.
It appeared as though Holland was set for a nice pay raise this offseason. Spring Training games have commenced, however, and Holland isn’t closing games for anyone.
Arizona might not be willing to spend big for a closer, especially after acquiring Brad Boxberger from the Rays and signing Japanese reliever Yoshihisa Hirano. But Holland could come at a discounted price with the regular season just weeks away.
It would be a good move for Holland as he is already familiar with, and has had success, pitching in the NL West, and he could provide ninth-inning stability for the Diamondbacks. Holland is only 32, so a three-year pact at the aforementioned discounted rate might be enough for the Diamondbacks to land him.
5. Lance Lynn
Like many of this offseason’s free agents, Lance Lynn has had rumors tied to his name from the get-go but is still unsigned.
He could fall in the same boat as Alex Cobb. The Twins are a young team that could benefit from veteran leadership in the rotation. Lynn has a career 3.38 ERA over six seasons with the Cardinals, and has pitched in 24 career postseason games and two World Series.
Jon Heyman has reported that the Twins have interest in Lynn, but the Milwaukee Brewers could be a legitimate backup plan. The Brewers have done a lot of work to their lineup by acquiring outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, but the rotation is full of guys who are due for regression. Chase Anderson, Zach Davies and Jhoulys Chacin had career years, and there’s no guaranteeing they’ll produce the same as they did in 2017.
Lynn represents a cheaper signing for a small-market team that is looking to compete in the NL Central this season and give Milwaukee a pitcher they can count on starting 30+ games a season.