In professional sports, bringing in the right free agents can help bolster a team’s success, as well as morale. One person does not often make a team, but the difference can be felt all around. Everyone wants the free agent with the best outing from the previous season. With that comes a problem: EVERYONE wants the best available.
The pitcher may be the most scrutinized position in baseball. But the other eight positions are no less important to a team’s success. Several of the current free agents can fit the bills needed for offense and/or fielding. But a lot of factors come into play for finding the right one for the job.
Free Agents: Infield Options
Shortstop Manny Machado is no doubt the biggest fish in the infield pond. He leads all free agent infielders in wins above replacement (WAR). But this does not mean they are no other good options besides him. Jed Lowrie, Ian Kinsler, Mike Moustakas, Wilson Ramos and many others are still up for grabs. Then comes the competition of suitors for said free agents. Who needs them more? Who can pay them more? Who can do both? Here are a few potentially good places for these infielders on the market.
1. St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals came awfully close to getting into the playoffs. But they couldn’t keep pace with Milwaukee or Chicago. Going into free agency, the Cards ought to look into improving their fielding. They finished last in the majors in fielding percentage and first in most errors committed. Adding a defensive savvy player like D.J. LeMahieu or Manny Machado could help turn their defense around for 2019. Plus, adding a big weapon along side Yadier Molina could give St. Louis an extra push for October.
2. San Francisco Giants / Philadelphia Phillies
Both San Francisco and Philadelphia had a similar problem in their 2018 outings: offense. They each rank in the bottom ten in RBIs and in team batting average. Not to mention their on-base percentages and slugging percentages are not anything to write home about either. Bringing in the likes of Jed Lowrie and Mike Moustakas can be beneficial if approached correctly and quickly. The mentioned two are coming off of solid seasons from the batter’s box, as well as playoff appearances.
Free Agents: Outfield Options
Bryce Harper may the headliner of the outfield free agents. But there are plenty of options for those if need of outfielders. Those name include, Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen, Michael Brantley and Nick Markakis. The outfield is among the most reveled positions in baseball. Hiring the right guy for the job is important, regardless of which area you’re covering, but a change of scenery is not guarantee success on first season.
1. Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners made big strides in the 2018 season, but they are not where they want to be yet. Among other things, Seattle should look into bringing a veteran outfielder into their ranks. Mitch Haniger and Mallex Smith hit high notes this past season, but more work still needs to be done. Not to mention half of their outfield roster is in the minors as of now. Recruiting someone like Michael Brantley can not only complete the outfield, but also bring strength to other departments down the line.
2. Milwaukee Brewers
The 2018 season was a year of triumph for Milwaukee fans, even though they didn’t make the World Series. As they move forward, the Brewers still have areas in need of improvement defensive wise, along with their pitching. Calling in free agents could help Milwaukee make an even deeper runs into October. Plus, if that outfielder has great batting chops, it could help keep the offense if one of their stars hits a slump or get injured.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays surged in the later portion of the season. No one has won more games after the All-Star Break than this team. Tampa should begin to build around their pitching staff, including some big bats moving forward. Versatile outfielders will come in handy as Tampa looks to pick up where they left off just months ago. With an improved defense and offense backing up their guys on the mound, the Rays should no doubt return to fighting form.
Featured image courtesy of AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
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