The MLB has the most unique offseason out of the four major sports. It is not quick like the others, where most of the action takes place in under a week. For baseball, fans can be waiting for weeks and months for a team to make a move on a player. Take a look at Max Scherzer as an example, he didn’t get signed by the Washington Nationals until almost February a couple of years ago.
The 2017 class isn’t filled with superstars like the free agent classes on the horizon, but there are plenty of solid players who will be available, especially big-time hitters. Here a few of the big names and where they can possibly sign this winter.
Jose Bautista: Right Fielder
Apparently the Blue Jays slugger was asking for a $150 million contract extension, which is absolutely absurd for a 36-year old outfielder. The slugger showed signs of regression with injuries, but can still absolutely be one of the main contributors on a winning team. It looks like Bautista can be going to the team with the highest offer, and that may not be a contending team.
Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies
Carlos Beltran: Right Fielder/Designated Hitter
The likely Hall of Famer showed some serious pop in his bat this year with the Yankees before slowing down with the Rangers. He will be going to a team who can contend and that needs a DH. Beltran can finish his career where it all started.
Prediction: Kansas City Royals
Yoenis Cespedes: Outfielder
The Mets desperately need Yoenis Cespedes, and he knows it. It is likely he once again opts-out of his contract and demands a hefty contract with security, possibly four-years with a $100 million price tag. Ces loves playing in New York, but he also knows how much he means to their success. The Wilpons need to pony up the cash.
Prediction: Re-Signs With New York Mets
Aroldis Chapman: Closer
Chapman is one of the most sought-out weapons in baseball. His 102-105 MPH fastball is a sight to see which makes him an asset. Chapman will have a handful of suitors, but only a few can meet his asking price. After the Giants had a miserable year out of their bullpen, they should hand the fire-throwing Cuban a blank check.
Prediction: San Francisco Giants
Edwin Encarnacion: First Baseman/Designated Hitter
Encarnacion has developed into one of the most consistent power hitters in the league and will be looking to get paid. Raw power is a luxury in the MLB nowadays and Encarnacion possesses it. There will be a vacant DH spot in Boston for the first time in what seems like forever. There’s a great possibility that the Red Sox replace David Ortiz with Edwin.
Prediction: Boston Red Sox
Rich Hill: Starting Pitcher
Hill has owned one of the lowest ERAs in all of baseball in the past couple of seasons but has barely been able to stay on the field. Hill is a crafty lefty who has great strikeout capability. He has the skills and numbers to warrant a decent sized contract, but his age and awful injury history could prevent him from having many offers.
Prediction: Texas Rangers
Matt Holliday: Outfielder
At the age of 36, many National League teams will be wary to commit to Holliday, even the St. Louis Cardianls. Look for a team who will have a hole to fill at DH to give Holliday the the most attention.
Prediction: New York Yankees
Kenley Jansen: Closer
The Giants will be linked to every closer and reliever this offseason. Jansen is a power pitcher and has been very reliable out in Los Angeles. However, if Chapman doesn’t return to Chicago, there could be a game of musical chairs played between the best closers in the game and World Series contenders.
Prediction: Chicago Cubs
Mark Melancon: Closer
Melancon won’t demand the contract of a Chapman or Jansen, but will still find his way to a nice payday for a winning team. There is a good chance Melancon remains in the National League. A Melancon signing may not move many Cardinals tickets, but he would prove a smart signing by St. Louis.
Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals
Wilson Ramos: Catcher
Timing couldn’t be worse for Ramos, who hands down had his best career year this season, reaching career highs in basically every statistical category. The 29 year-old was poised to cash out after hitting .307, 22 home runs, 80 RBIs, and an .850 OPS, but unfortunately tore his ACL during the last week of the season. Instead of receiving long-term offers from multiple teams, Ramos may be forced to sign a one-year “show me” contract. He will miss some serious time, so his market will be bare.
Prediction: Re-Signs With Washington Nationals
Chris Sale: Starting Pitcher
Sale is the only player under contract on this list due to his bizarre situation with the Chicago White Sox. Sale is a Cy Young candidate pitcher and posted one of his best seasons in 2016, going with 17-10 with a 3.34 ERA and a career-high 226.2 innings. Sale has one of the best contracts in baseball, as he is owed only $12 million for the next two seasons and $15 million in 2019. There’s no way Sale finishes the duration of his contract in Chicago, as they need to move him for valuable assets.
Prediction: Traded To Boston Red Sox
Justin Turner: Third Baseman
Turner’s career has changed for the better once he became a Dodger. In three season with the club he has hit .296 with 50 home runs and 193 RBIs. If the Dodgers want to keep him, they will have to pay up. If Turner does well in the playoffs, his price will only increase but his urgency to stay with the club may also increase. There is one big market team that we haven’t mentioned yet who didn’t spend any money on free agents last season.
Prediction: New York Yankees
Neil Walker: Second Baseman
Walker was one of the steals of last season’s offseason and will be looking for a contract with security at the age of 31. If the Mets back up the Brinks truck for Cespedes, they may let Walker go, especially with Dilson Herrera ready to make his MLB debut.
Prediction: Toronto Blue Jays
Matt Wieters: Catcher
Wieters has had a strange career after being selected with the first overall pick. Even though he is coming off an All-Star season, it’s not likely the Orioles give him the contract he’s looking for. Wieters may be better off with a change of scenery.
Prediction: Chicago White Sox