MLB free agency has gotten off to a rather quiet start. However, with the Winter Meetings just days away, the dominos should begin to fall. Here are the best landing spots for the 10 best MLB free agents (in alphabetical order).
Jake Arrieta – St. Louis Cardinals
Chicago Cubs’ righty Jake Arrieta is undoubtedly the best starting pitcher on the open market this Winter. The former NL Cy Young has showcased an ability to be a bonafide ace and the rival St. Louis Cardinals make all the sense in the world to steal his services from the Cubs. Last year, the Cardinals were in the NL Wild Card and even NL Central race until the very end.
The 83-win Cardinals possessed the 10th best pitching staff in MLB, in terms of ERA (4.01), but with the veteran Lance Lynn potentially heading elsewhere, the need for a starter exists. Arrieta could come in and be Mike Matheny’s ace, potentially propelling them to a playoff berth.
Alex Cobb – Baltimore Orioles
No relatively competitive team is in more dire need to add starting pitching than the Baltimore Orioles. Pitching to the 27th best ERA in MLB (4.97), the O’s were unable to complement their electric and powerful lineup which features the likes of Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Jonathan Schoop and Chris Davis, among others.
Add some proven commodities to their rotation, and Baltimore could be a potential Wild Card team. Alex Cobb would be a great addition. The 30-year old has pitched to a career 3.50 ERA, and is a ground ball pitcher. The Orioles need rotation depth and Cobb wants to get paid; the two can help each other out.
Zach Cozart – Cincinnati Reds
It’s not often that a premier or well-known shortstop hits the open market, which puts the Reds’ Zach Cozart in a unique scenario. Cozart, a late bloomer, has come into his own as one of the game’s best middle infielders. He’s smooth in the field with his glove and strong arm, and has become more productive at the plate. Posting a career-high in batting average (.297) and home runs (24), while driving in 63 runs, Cozart was a core part of the Reds’ offensive attack in 2017.
Based on there being very few, if any teams in dire need of a shortstop, Cozart is best suited staying in Cincinnati. The Reds haven’t been a legitimate playoff threat since the Dusty Baker era, but retaining Cozart allows them to keep a player who has become identity. And for Cozart, the Reds will likely fork over the necessary cash, whatever his market becomes.
Yu Darvish – Baltimore Orioles
In addition to adding pure depth, the Orioles are in need of an ace, and after Arrieta, Dodgers’ righty Yu Darvish is the next in line to get paid. While he struggled in the World Series, failing to get through a combined four innings in two starts, Darvish can be one of the game’s most dominant righties.
Posting three 200+ strikeout seasons in his five-year career, Darvish is capable of being an overwhelming presence on the hill when he has his command. While the inconsistency can be a bit alarming, Darvish would be a welcomed addition to Camden Yards, and would be their ace from the get-go.
Wade Davis – Houston Astros
The Houston Astros were crowned World Series champions just a few weeks ago, but during the magical run, their bullpen woes were on full display. With closer Ken Giles’ shaky ninth inning appearances, as well as the Astros’ bullpen, as a whole, showcasing an inability to get the big out, bolstering the bullpen should be Houston’s top priority this Winter; Wade Davis is at the top of the food chain when it comes to relievers.
The Cubs’ closer, Davis, continues to be one of the game’s best all-around relievers. He’s pitched to an ERA of one and below one in year’s past; he’s even gone an entire postseason without surrendering a single run (2015). Davis can pitch the ninth, eight or come in for a long relief appearance. He’s versatile, durable and just the piece the Astros need to make their roster even more formidable.
Greg Holland – Minnesota Twins
After winning just 59 games the year prior, the Minnesota Twins surprised many by clinching the second AL Wild Card with 85 wins, however, they did so with a glaring flaw — their bullpen. Ending the year 22nd in bullpen ERA (4.40), and trading All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler at the trade deadline, Paul Molitor’s pen was his team’s achilles heel; after Davis, Greg Holland is the next in line to get paid.
After missing the entire 2016 season, Holland had a resurgent year, recording 41-of-45 saves and 70 punchouts in 57.1 innings pitched. Holland can provide Minnesota with their ninth inning solution, and should come in a tad bit cheaper than Davis.
Eric Hosmer – Boston Red Sox
The first baseman market is probably the deepest of this year’s free agent class, and Eric Hosmer is the best it has to offer. The lifelong Royal, Hosmer, has established himself as one of the game’s best corner infielders. While not stellar in the field, Hosmer has come into his own at the plate. Hitting 25 home runs in each of the last two seasons and hitting a career-high .318 in 2017, he was a huge piece in the middle of Ned Yost’s order.
The Boston Red Sox, coming off their second consecutive AL East division title, will be looking to improve in any way possible, and with Mitch Moreland potentially departing, Hosmer could step in and be the team’s first baseman for the foreseeable future — adding to what’s already a deep core.
J.D. Martinez – Toronto Blue Jays
Just a year removed from making their second consecutive ALCS appearance, the Toronto Blue Jays will be looking to make it back to the postseason after missing out in 2017. And a big way for them to make an attempt at doing so is inking outfielder J.D. Martinez. With the assessment of him being “King Kong” from agent Scott Boras aside, Martinez is a power-hitting threat. Blasting a career-high 45 home runs last season with the Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks in just 119 games, Martinez was one of many captivating storylines from the 2017 season.
Martinez is also a career .285 hitter; he’s not just a home run or bust hitter. Bringing him in to play right field would provide John Gibbons with his long-term solution at the corner outfield spot. With Martinez’ bat in the middle of their order, Toronto could begin to reenter the playoff conversation.
Mike Moustakas – San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants went from winning 87 games in 2016 to just 64 last season. They’re just a year removed from a playoff appearance and will, for sure, look to return to playing October ball; finding their solution at third base would help Bruce Bochy and the Giants’ chances at doing so. Mike Moustakas would be that answer for San Francisco at third.
Last year, Moustakas totaled a career-high in home runs (38) and runs batted in (85); he’s a power hitter, who holds his own in the field. The third baseman could hit cleanup, and provide the Giants with a power bat, and veteran presence. A 3-4 of Buster Posey and Moustakas could make for a lethal combo.
Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians
The grass isn’t always greener elsewhere, which is the case for Indians’ first baseman Carlos Santana. Santana, one of the better power-hitting first basemen in baseball, will be a sought-after player on the free agent market. Over the course of the last two seasons, the Indians’ first baseman has totaled 57 home runs and has been a key aspect of his team’s success at the plate.
Even though they failed to get back to the Fall Classic last season, Santana’s return would help assist the team’s efforts in doing so for 2018. He was a crucial part of their 102-win 2017 season, is best suited staying put and management will likely do what they have to in order to keep the lifelong Indian.