Like the weather in the Midwest, baseball’s hot stove is ice cold. The new year is set to begin soon, and a number of key free agents remain on the market.
If you don’t count Shohei Ohtani — let’s face it, his case was unique — the highest free-agent to sign from Jeff Passan’s annual list was No. 11 Zack Cozart.
Things have been so painfully slow that we can’t blame you if you have no idea where those top free agents currently stand.
We’ve taken it upon ourselves to try and give you some updates on the premier free agents. Below, we’ve compiled the most recent news we could find on each guy. Will they pan out? Probably not. But it doesn’t hurt to have the refresher.
Darvish is one of the few players on this list who has been really active lately. The 31-year-old has met with a number of teams over the past few weeks. Darvish has held meetings with the Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers. While he hasn’t got to the Twin Cities just yet, the Minnesota Twins are reportedly interested in the ace. Darvish has been pretty active on social media throughout the process, which is pretty refreshing from a free-agent.
You would think teams would be interested in a 30-year-old coming off a .303/.376/.690 slash line, but things are mostly quiet on Martinez’s front. The Boston Red Sox are interested, but are worried about space. Both the Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals have been mentioned as underdogs for the outfielder. For Boston and Washington, it seems like both are trying to wait and see if Martinez is willing to lower his asking price. There’s a “we want you, but we don’t really need you” vibe. That could change if a rival makes a major move.
Are we to believe the only team seriously courting Hosmer is the San Diego Padres? That seems to be the club everyone mentions, but does Hosmer want to go there? The team has been awful lately, so he would have to be sold on its future. Many thought the Red Sox would be involved here, but that has died down since the team re-signed Mitch Moreland. Hosmer might be one of the most controversial players on the market. Baseball insiders love him, stat heads do not. But they can at least all agree that signing Moreland should not prohibit a team from pursuing Hosmer.
The market for Arrieta has been good for conspiracy theorists, so that’s fun. When he shaved his beard, many believed it was a play to get the New York Yankees to sign him. When his wife tweeted that they took a trip to Seattle, people thought the Mariners were the favorites. The Cubs seem more interested with Darvish at the moment, but that could change if he goes elsewhere. The Nationals got their obligatory mention since Arrieta is Scott Boras’ client. That seems to be the only legitimate rumor on him at the moment.
Did Lorenzo Cain secretly retire this offseason? There’s just not a lot out there about the 31-year-old. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports has mentioned the Blue Jays as a destination at least twice. He also said the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants were interested back in November. The Mets aren’t spending the money, probably. That leaves the Giants, who still could be in the mix. They did just deal Denard Span.
Like Cain, there hasn’t been much of a market for Moustakas just yet. The only team that had significant buzz for the third baseman, the Los Angeles Angels, should be out after picking up Cozart on a three-year deal. The Giants had been mentioned early, but the acquisition of Evan Longoria takes them out of that race. The one contender out there in need of a third baseman is the New York Yankees. Picking up Moustakas makes sense for them, but it’s unclear if they even have interest.
Cubs. Cubs. Cubs. From the start of free agency, it was assumed Cobb would go to the Cubs due to familiarity. He not only has a relationship with manager Joe Maddon, but the team also has Jim Hickey, his former pitching coach with the Tampa Bay Rays. Chicago has reportedly soured on the pitcher due to his asking price. That’s a negotiating ploy. Cobb’s market will be severely limited as long as Arrieta and Darvish are still out there. Once they go, Cobb becomes a highly desirable fallback option.
The relief market is always changing. Are relievers important again, or are they fungible? Davis remains available, but a few teams seem to be interested. The Colorado Rockies seem intent on building a super bullpen, while both the St. Louis Cardinals and Nationals are thinking about him. A reunion with the Cubs could be possible too. Their bullpen was a weak point in 2017, and there’s no established closer there now.
The final two aren’t technically free agents, but we find their situations more intriguing than the markets for Jay Bruce or Jonathan Lucroy. Apologies to them.
ALL THE VALUABLE MARLINS
For now, it appears all the valuable members of the Miami Marlins are staying put. But the rumors change hourly. Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto reportedly want out, but the team is adamant they are staying. After missing out on a ton of value in their previous trades, the club could be trying to drive up the prices on their remaining assets. We wouldn’t be surprised if one of them goes before the start of the year. Both should be highly coveted and the Marlins seem intent on slashing payroll this offseason.
Manny Machado is staying put … for now. Should he? Probably not. The Baltimore Orioles haven’t exactly strengthened their team this offseason, so dealing Machado for future value seems wise. But the club is reportedly not happy with the offers it has received thus far. The Chicago White Sox were considered the strongest contender for Machado, even though they don’t make a ton of sense as a destination. He should get dealt, but it’s reasonable that the Orioles want better offers.
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