We love Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. We even love this offseason's long-running intrigue around where they might land and how they might impact postseason berths and all the rest. To have a pair of 26-year-old superstars on the open market has appropriately dominated the offseason conversation and almost certainly
We love Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. We even love this offseason's long-running intrigue around where they might land and how they might impact postseason berths and all the rest. To have a pair of 26-year-old superstars on the open market has appropriately dominated the offseason conversation and almost certainly had an impact on the entire free-agent market.
We may look back on this offseason as essentially two offseasons. That is, the offseason before Machado and Harper signed. Patrick Corbin, Michael Brantley and others got nice deals, but the pace wasn't exactly dizzying. And then there's the market after Machado and Harper are signed. That's when things could get really interesting. That's especially true given that the start of Spring Training could be days away. Or already underway.
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There will still be plenty of talent available. Talent that can make or break a team's offseason. Talent that can elevate a club to a different place. That's when A.J. Pollock will become the most intriguing free agent in baseball. He's an elite player when he's healthy. Dallas Keuchel is going to be close behind. Same thing with Marwin Gonzalez, Craig Kimbrel, Mike Moustakas and others. If you love the Hot Stove, this is going to be about as good as it ever gets. Let's check out seven players from the best of the rest of the remaining free agents and where they might land:
1. A.J. Pollock, OF
Pollock's 14.9 fWAR since the start of the 2014 season is 20th among all outfielders. His .828 OPS is 19th. His only downside is durability, having averaged 94 games a season in this time. At 31, he may have to accept a contract loaded with incentives. Once Harper signs, Pollock will find out more precisely what his market is. He could have a major impact on the 2019 races.
Where he might land: Braves, Dodgers, Giants, White Sox
2. Craig Kimbrel, closer
Kimbrel is one of the premier closers of his generation. Even in what for him was a subpar season, he allowed less than a baserunner an inning and corrected a mechanical flaw in the American League Championship Series and finished with scoreless appearances in four of his last five outings. His desire for a six-year contract probably is the only reason he's unsigned.
Where he might land: Red Sox, Braves, Astros, Cardinals, Cubs
3. Dallas Keuchel, LHP
He's the best available starter on the market, and it's probably not close. His 23.3 percent soft-contact rate is tops among all Major League starters over the last five seasons. In that time, his 18.2 fWAR is ranked 16th. He's coming off his second 200-inning season in the last four years. His resume includes an AL Cy Young Award in 2015 and a 3.31 ERA in 10 postseason appearances.
Where he might land: Reds, Phillies, Astros, Braves
4. Marwin Gonzalez, INF/OF
Gonzalez is an extremely valuable super utility player who started games at every infield position over the last two seasons in addition to 103 starts in left field. He has played all of them credibly while producing a 4.0 fWAR in 2017 and hitting the biggest home run in Astros history in Game 2 of that World Series.
Where he might land: Indians, Braves, Brewers, Rays
5. Wade Miley, LHP
He harnessed a cutter and rode it to one of the best stretches of his career, helping the Brewers get to the postseason. He may be a secondary option to teams unable to land Keuchel, but he proved last season he's capable of being a big-time contributor to a winning team.
Where he might land: Reds, Brewers, Astros
6. Adam Ottavino, RHP
Ottavino and Kimbrel are the last of the elite relievers on the market. At 33, he may not get a deal longer than two years, but after a season that included 75 appearances and a 0.991 WHIP for the Rockies, he's going to be a major catch for some team.
Where he might land: Red Sox, Braves, Cubs
7. Mike Moustakas, 3B
His second straight trip into the free-agent marketplace has seen things unfold slowly again despite another solid season split between the Royals and Brewers. His 110 home runs since the start of 2015 are eighth among all third basemen, and his 9.5 fWAR is 19th.
Where he might land: Brewers, Padres
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.