With free agents rumors heating up, we asked our MLB contributors to answer a few of the biggest questions this offseason.
If Giancarlo Stanton gets traded, where will he end up?
Jake Lieberman: Cardinals. The Cardinals are ready to win now with a good core of veterans (Carpenter, Molina, Fowler, Wainwright) mixed in with some promising youth (Martinez, Reyes, Weaver, Kelly, and DeJong). St. Louis is a great baseball town, and Stanton will eventually agree to move there.
Kevin Hurley: Cardinals. St. Louis has the money to help eat some of that contract, and they have prospects to give to Miami. Plus they have been such a frequent postseason team this past decade, and their fans are probably already sick of not making the playoffs.
Matt West: Dodgers. LA has money and prospects to throw around like nobody else as well as Puig to give up. The Dodgers were oh-so close to being World Series Champions, and Stanton is the piece they will go out to push them over the hump (not to mention Stanton grew up in LA).
DJ Purcell: Rangers. The Rangers have a few talented young players they could deal, and they have money to spend. Stanton could go for 60 at Globe Life Park. The only problem could be Stanton not wanting to go there.
Sam Starosciak: Cardinals. If the Marlins sell off other pieces like Ozuna, Yelich, or Gordon, Giancarlo will be forced to either play on a rebuilding team or waive his no-trade clause and accept a trade. The Cardinals have the best prospects of the early frontrunners and the financial flexibility to get a trade done.
Jeff Rula: Red Sox. Dombrowski is known for making big moves for big players. The Red Sox would be able to offer Jackie Bradley Jr. to the Marlins while also having the money to take on Stanton’s contract. Sliding Betts into center field would be a seamless transition as well. The Red Sox struggled to hit home runs last year and desperately need a power bat like Stanton in the middle of the order. The Red Sox are in a win now mode and a strong power bat can put them over the edge.
Did Yu Darvish’s World Series performance hurt his new contract?
Jake: No, he will still be in high demand after a solid season with great playoff starts prior to the the World Series. There are only two big pitchers in the market (Jake Arrieta as well), and someone will pay him.
Kevin: A little bit. I think if Darvish were to have thrown two gems in his last World Series starts and outperformed Kershaw in the biggest stage, he could have been a $100-$150 million pitcher. But unless a team really wants him, I think Darvish will get between $50-$100 million.
Matt: No. Yu Darvish has some of the nastiest stuff of any starting pitcher in the entire league, and there are teams out there willing to pay a lot of money for a pitcher of his caliber. Darvish is not only the fastest pitcher to reach 1000 strikeouts, but he also has a career K/9 of 11.04 (this would be the highest ever if he qualified). These two poor performances are not enough to deter a team from giving him the contract he deserves.
DJ: No. I think MLB front offices do enough research on players to not be swayed by two starts. I do think his inconsistency throughout the 2017 season and his injury history will keep his contract reasonable despite the relatively weak free agent pitcher class.
Sam: No. Most of the starting pitchers in this free agent class fall in the mid-tier category, leaving Darvish with Arrieta as the only superstars. Someone will overpay to add the big name to their rotation.
Jeff: No. Darvish is still an elite pitcher and MLB GM’s will see that. In a weak pitching market this offseason, Darvish will get paid. When healthy, Darvish has consistently been an extremely effective pitcher with some of the best strikeout stuff in baseball. With baseball’s emphasis on strikeouts, Darvish’s career 11 K/9 will still be extremely appealing.
Who will be the biggest surprise this winter?
Jake: Mariners. Jerry Dipoto is already making trades, and I see some more in the future. They need pitching and outfield depth. Expect the Mariners to be somewhat surprising spenders and possible an Otani suitor.
Kevin: Orioles. The Orioles have a mix of solid veterans and young talent. But being in the AL East they will have a hard time keeping up with Boston and NY. Baltimore has one of the lowest payrolls in the league and are in need of pitching and an outfield bat. Baltimore has the chance to surprise some people with the potential signing of Yu Darvish or J.D. Martinez.
Matt: Blue Jays. The Blue Jays were not quite what people expected of them last year, so don’t be surprised if they go out and and spend a good amount of money. Also be on the lookout for Josh Donaldson to possibly be moved as there are teams that would love to have his MVP caliber play.
DJ: Rangers. The Rangers have an aggressive general manager and money to spend. If they could trade some young talent for Stanton and take on a portion of his deal, maybe they could bring TCU alum and Austin resident Jake Arrieta to Arlington. The Rangers have had success in this decade and they want to get back to the postseason after a bad 2017. If not Arrieta and Stanton, Darvish could return to Texas and bring Otani with him.
Sam: The biggest surprise will be Shohei Otani signing with the Mariners. Everyone thinks he’ll be going to the Yankees, but the Mariners have a history of bringing in Japanese superstars who’ve done well.
Jeff: Yankees. With the Yankees success in the past year, Brian Cashman is ready to transition from bringing in young players to win now mode. The Yankees also have come into more money to work with because of CC Sabathia’s contract expiring. They will undoubtedly be in the Otani sweepstakes. They also have question marks at third with Chase Headley and in the outfield with the albatross contract of Ellsbury. In the rotation, Tanaka can opt out, Pineda’s contract has expired, and they must decide whether or not to resign Sabathia. Betances has also been mentioned as a possible trade candidate, but I don’t expect them to mortgage their future this offseason.
Would you give JD Martinez 7 years/ 210 million dollars?
Jake: No, players lose their value pretty quickly once they hit their mid-30s. The signings of Jayson Werth, Jacoby Ellsbury, Albert Pujols will be in the back of the minds of all GM’s looking at him.
Kevin: No. As good as he is, Martinez will most likely perform at this level of play for 2-3 years max. After that, he’ll probably turn into a mediocre DH that is swimming in cash.
Matt: No. Don’t get me wrong, when he is healthy, JD Martinez is one of the best hitters in the MLB. Martinez has had his share of injuries though, and his defense is not stellar. If he was 27 or 28, I would definitely consider this contract.
DJ: Why not? It’s just money. Since Big Papi retired, Hanley hasn’t delivered the goods at DH in Boston. Dombrowski would overpay for Martinez.
Sam: No. That’s a lengthy contract for a guy that’s reached his peak years. Most of those seven years would be met with declining production from an aging outfielder. At his age, he’s worth a four-year deal. Five at most.
Jeff: No. I would not offer the massive contract Martinez is looking for under agent Scott Boras. JD Martinez is a power bat in his 30’s who doesn’t hit extremely well for contact. He is the exact type of player who can potentially decline dramatically. His defense is also below-average in the outfield, so as he gets older, he will most likely have to be relegated to a DH spot. As much as I enjoyed having him last year as a D-Backs fan, I would not be willing to take on the long-term contract he is expecting.