Finishing Free Agency: Where will the big names land?
Not even two days after I wrote this: “In recent news nothing of any real note has occurred”. And this: “Not much has changed for Seattle, and they haven’t been tied to any deal of significance”.
The Mariners went out and traded for Drew Smyly to accompany Yovani Gallardo in anchoring the back of their rotation. The Braves then traded Mallex Smith and Shae Simmons to Seattle for Luiz Gohara and Thomas Burrows. Finally, nothing short of 14 other transactions occurred around the MLB including contract agreements, designations, and releases.
Baseball God’s 1, Ignorant MLB writer 0.
Not that any of these signings are blockbusters, but clearly teams are still active before the start of spring training. The question remaining for most fans is whether or not their team will be the one to land one of the remaining big names. Suitable homes for Jose Bautista, Matt Wieters, and Mark Trumbo continue to be the source of speculation around the league. There is a risk and reward argument to be made for each. Today, The Game Haus breaks down likely landing spots for these veteran players.
What do two stints on the disabled list, regressing performance, and a controversial attitude get you at age 36 in the MLB? Apparently a long wait in free agency. Given the multiple injuries Bautista endured during the season, he still managed a strong finish to the year.
Clearly Bautista can still swing the lumber. He managed 22 home runs after missing 46 games. However, his regressing defense and propensity for providing opposing teams plenty of “bulletin board material” may make teams weary to engage in any sort of multi-year commitment.
Ideal Landing Spot: Toronto Blue Jays
The Jays are Joey Bats’ true home, and probably one of the few places that can still stand him. Personality issues aside, the loss of Edwin Encarnacion, and the potential departure of Michael Saunders leave significant holes in Toronto’s lineup. Simply put, in one off-season the Jays are at serious risk of losing much of the run support that has made them contenders. Besides, Jays fans love those bat flips.
Matt Wieters is the “Mr. Reliable” of the remaining free agent class. He will provide consistent offensive production, strong defense, and veteran leadership to whomever signs this four-time all-star. Unlike others on this list, Wieters’ offensive numbers don’t jump off the page. Teams’ interest in him will likely be based around his defensive proficiency and ability to manage a pitching staff. Wieters’ 2016 was a down year statistically, but given his track record he shouldn’t have trouble finding a suitable home.
Ideal Landing Spot: Arizona Diamondbacks
Up to this point, Wieters has been closely linked to the Angels despite an earlier off-season trade for Martin Maldonado. However, the diamondbacks present an interesting option and could benefit greatly from Wieters’ veteran presence. Arizona has a young rotation anchored by Zack Greinke, and Wieters presents a significant upgrade over Jeff Mathis. 2017 looks like a toss-up between the two teams in terms of upcoming performance. That said, if Wieters is looking for a multi-year deal, the D-Backs long-term outlooks appear a bit more positive than the Angels.
Crushing an obscene 47 home runs the year you’re up for free agency certainly doesn’t hurt one’s ability to collect a paycheck. Trumbo’s league leading ability to hit the long ball is matched only by his swing and miss potential. He ranked tenth among all players in strikeouts last season. This fact coupled with sub-par outfield performance makes Trumbo a risk, despite his career year in the home run category. Baseball aficionados will undoubtedly claim “regression to the mean” in Trumbo’s future. Even so, he has hit at least 20 home runs a season all but once in his career, and should make a valuable power addition to any team.
Ideal Landing Spot: Baltimore Orioles
The Rangers and Rockies have been linked to Trumbo. Given the Ian Desmond signing in Colorado and the Rangers interest in Mike Napoli, neither seems likely. Trumbo fits the power driven mold and positional needs for Baltimore perfectly. The Orioles can’t hope to come close to Trumbo’s production with Seth Smith currently slotted in right field. Trumbo isn’t there for defense, but does provide flexibility in right and at first when Chris Davis fills the DH role. Regression should be expected, but given the alternative, Baltimore needs to pay the man.