One of the best MLB free agents is off of the market, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any top players left for the taking.
Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times was the first to report that Jason Heyward will be going to the Cubs, with Wittenmyer, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, MLB Network’s Peter Gammons, ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers, and Fox’s Ken Rosenthal adding contract details.
Between Heyward and Ben Zobrist, the top offensive MLB free agents to sign so far have both gone to the Cubs. The good news for the other 29 teams is that there are plenty of good hitters available. Despite some of the best arms being signed, plenty of talented pitchers are available, as well.
Where will the top MLB Free agents end up?
Top 10 Remaining Free Agents
Yoenis Cespedes, LF/CF: Los Angeles Angels
There’s no reason that the Angels shouldn’t land Cespedes. They were in on Heyward, who’s a better fielder than Cespedes, but nowhere near as dangerous of a hitter. Also, while not as good with the glove as Heyward, Cespedes is still a Gold Glove winner and could bat pretty much anywhere in that lineup.
Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun, a healthy Albert Pujols, and Cespedes would be a devastating middle of the order for the Angels. If C.J. Cron continues his good play from last season and Andrelton Simmons finds his bat again, then it’s even deadlier.
Historically, the Angels have not been afraid to spend money, and with Cespedes on board, they’d be one of the American League’s best teams.
Wei-Yin Chen, LHP: Washington Nationals
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Giants and Cardinals were in on Chen, adding that the Nationals might be a part of the bidding if they don’t land Mike Leake.
Well, Leake doesn’t seem to be going to Washington, we’ve got Ian Kennedy going to San Francisco and there are better options for the Cardinals (which we’ll get to later). Therefore, Chen slots in well with the Nationals.
Chen can be anywhere in the 3-5 range of the rotation, after Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Coming from Baltimore, he’s also used to that part of the country, which can’t be a bad thing.
Johnny Cueto, RHP: Los Angeles Dodgers
With David Price and Zack Greinke gone elsewhere, Cueto just makes perfect sense for Los Angeles. The loss of Greinke leaves an opening at the front end of the Dodgers rotation and while Hisashi Iwakuma fills some of that, Johnny Cueto is even better.
Jon Heyman reported that the Dodgers were all in on Cueto, and Los Angeles, slacking right now, desperately need to make a move. If you don’t believe me, have a look at what Larry King had to say.
— Larry King (@kingsthings) December 9, 2015
Larry might be being a little harsh to his guys, but the Dodgers do need a No. 2 starter if they’re going to win the World Series. Cueto is good enough to be a No. 1 on most teams, and Los Angeles has the resources to make this happen.
Chris Davis, 1B/OF: Baltimore Orioles
We’ll start with the problem. Buster Olney from ESPN reported that the Orioles pulled their offer to Davis. Before Heyward signed, Julie DiCaro of Chiacgo’s 670 The Score reported that the Cardinals were out on Heyward and expected to go after Davis.
That sounds fine, but that just doesn’t really fit the Cardinals M.O. They aren’t cheap, but St. Louis doesn’t usually give the kind of money that Davis would command. They also don’t really need first base help and while Davis can play the outfield, he’s never been a full-timer. There are better outfielders on the market for the Cardinals to go after, and they’ll probably come much cheaper than “Crush.”
Leaving the Orioles would be a mistake for Davis. Letting Davis go would be a mistake for the Orioles. It may not happen soon, but expect a reunion to happen here.
Dexter Fowler, CF: St. Louis Cardinals
With the loss of Heyward, Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reported that Fowler and Alex Gordon are now options for the Cardinals.
We’ll get to Gordon momentarily, but Fowler and the Cardinals line up well. He can play in center on either corner spot in the outfield. Much like Heyward can do with the Cubs, Fowler can also give the Cardinals much of what he gave the Cubs a season ago.
Alex Gordon, LF: Kansas City Royals
Gordon has plenty of options. Teams like the Cardinals are not only suitors, but good suitors. But this just comes down to a gut feeling. Alex Gordon is a Royal. He belongs in Kansas City. He’s one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, and that’s a big asset in a spacious outfield like Kauffman Stadium’s.
Not unlike Davis with Baltimore, Gordon leaving Kansas City would be a mistake for both sides.
Mike Leake, RHP: St. Louis Cardinals
With the loss of Lance Lynn (Tommy John surgery) the Cardinals are lacking some depth in the starting rotation, especially if Adam Wainwright comes back a little slow in 2016.
Having pitched in Cincinnati for all but two months of his Major League career, Leake is familiar with the NL Central. In 6 career starts with St. Louis, Leake has 42.1 innings pitched with a 3.19 ERA and 0.898 WHIP. Mind you, that’s coming against the Cardinals offense, which has generally been potent in Leake’s career.
Pitching in St. Louis for the Cardinals would mean throwing to Yadier Molina, and of course, not facing the Cardinals hitters.
Scott Kazmir, LHP: Kansas City Royals
Kazmir can fit in well pretty much anywhere, but the Royals definitely line up well. They need someone to replace what they lost with Johnny Cueto, and Kazmir can do a pretty adequate job of it.
Buster Olney reported that the Royals and Dodgers had interest in Kazmir, and that was before the Dodgers began to (allegedly) look hard at Cueto. Much like Cueto to the Dodgers, Kazmir to the Royals makes complete sense. It’s a good fit on the field and should be a good fit for the checkbook.
Kenta Maeda, RHP: Detroit Tigers
This is perhaps the biggest wild card on the market. The Red Sox make sense but according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, that’s not going to happen. The Giants make sense, but John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle is saying that that’s “not likely.” So, we’re in a bit of a guessing game here, even more so than usual.
Breaking this down, though, the Tigers make sense. They’re a team that’s been willing to spend and while the depth chart on their team website shows a vast pitching staff, it’s not exactly impossible to break.
- Justin Verlander
- Jordan Zimmermann
- Anibal Sanchez
- Mike Pelfrey
- Daniel Norris
- Matt Boyd
- Shane Greene
- Kyle Lobstein.
Maeda would be an upgrade anywhere after Sanchez or even Zimmermann. He may prefer to play on the West Coast, but the fit isn’t really there. In Detroit, it is.
Justin Upton, LF: San Francisco Giants
First of all, it makes sense. The Giants have a good lineup, but even Buster Posey and Hunter Pence aren’t what you’d call real threats to hit 25 or more home runs. The Giants also have a pretty glaring hole in the outfield. If they sign Upton, then they could allow Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco to split time in center, which would be good with both players.
As if that wasn’t enough, we’ve got this from ESPN’s Jim Bowden.
Justin Upton market picking up steam with Orioles, Giants and Angels all involved
— Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenGM) December 10, 2015
We’ve already got the Orioles picking up Davis and the Angels landing Cespedes. Upton going to San Francisco is the next logical piece of the puzzle.
Best of the rest
Ian Desmond, SS: San Diego Padres
That certainly opens up a few more options. But even in a down year, Desmond hit 19 home runs, which is not something many shortstops do. The Padres infield is incredibly unimpressive, so Desmond could easily play short, or anywhere else.
Yovani Gallardo, RHP: Houston Astros
Houston is a good fit for Gallardo. I’m not sure that he’s is a front end of the rotation starter anymore, at least not on a contender. The good news is that in Houston, he won’t have to be. Gallardo would easily slot in well with Mike Fiers and Lance McCullers to hold down the bottom of the rotation, right behind Collin McHugh and Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel.
Howie Kendrick, 2B: Chicago White Sox
Jose Abreu and Brett Lawrie make for excellent corner infielders, but Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez leave a lot to be desired up the middle. Kendrick would be an upgrade at second and could slot in just about anywhere in the White Sox lineup.
Ian Kennedy, SP: San Francisco Giants
The most sensible thing that the Giants could do would be to sign someone who can be a No. 3 or 4 starter, and then go big on an outfielder. Kennedy fits the first bill well. He’s pitched in the National League West since 2010 and AT&T Park is about the best place that a place for a fly ball pitcher like Kennedy can call home.
Daniel Murphy, 2B: Los Angeles Angels
Alden Gonzalez from mlb.com tweeted that the Angels are in the market for a left-handed hitting second baseman. As luck would have it, Murphy is a left-handed hitting second baseman. This makes too much sense not to happen.