Maybe a little nudge will do it. Suggestion is said to be a powerful thing. If one guy gets things started, we might have an avalanche of deals. Can't hurt to try. We understand that things get a bit more complicated for unsigned free agents after Spring Training camps start.
Maybe a little nudge will do it. Suggestion is said to be a powerful thing. If one guy gets things started, we might have an avalanche of deals. Can't hurt to try. We understand that things get a bit more complicated for unsigned free agents after Spring Training camps start. Lots of teams want to take a look at their best prospects before signing an older free agent.
Remember when Juan Soto was thought to be at least a year away when the Nationals summoned him to the big leagues last year? His success prompts every team to take a second and third look at its own youngsters. On the other hand, this market is still so flush with talent that every team has avenues to improvement. So let's nudge things along with some ideas about where eight of the top free agents would fit.
1. Manny Machado to the White Sox
Machado would be a nice fit almost anywhere. He's 26 years old and coming off a four-year stretch in which he averaged 159 games, 36 home runs and an .856 OPS. But the White Sox feel like an ideal fit because they are filled with near-MLB-ready talent, and Machado would give them a face-of-the-franchise cornerstone to build around. His presence would allow the kids to become acclimated to the Majors while he's the main focus of attention.
• The latest Machado free-agent rumors
2. Bryce Harper to the Giants
Harper would make every team way better, and while the Phillies seem to be the favorite, it's easy to see the Padres, Nationals and a long list of others landing him. The Giants may be a late entry into the Harper sweepstakes, but they've been discussing him internally for more than a year. His arrival would immediately insert the Giants back into the middle of the postseason conversation.
• The latest Harper free-agent rumors
3. Dallas Keuchel to the Braves
Let's not overthink things. The Braves were one of baseball's most exciting teams in 2018 and appeared to be poised to be a powerhouse for the foreseeable future. What they do not have is a veteran at the front of their rotation. At 31, Keuchel is that and more. In the last five seasons, he's fifth in the American League in ERA and sixth in innings and FanGraphs' version of WAR. In that time, his 23.3 percent soft-contact rate is the best among all AL starters.
• The latest Keuchel free-agent rumors
4. Craig Kimbrel to the Astros
With Kimbrel, the challenge isn't to find a perfect fit, but to find one that's not a perfect fit. He could elevate virtually every team, including the Red Sox, Cubs, Braves and Cardinals. The Astros had baseball's best bullpen and were strengthened during the season with the additions of Roberto Osuna and Ryan Pressly at the Trade Deadline. Signing Kimbrel would allow the Astros to keep pace with the Yankees' super bullpen and also shore up a potential area of weakness with Collin McHugh headed back to the rotation and veteran Joe Smith out for the season.
• The latest Kimbrel free-agent rumors
5. Marwin Gonzalez to the Twins
He's not a utility player. Over the last three seasons he has averaged 528 plate appearances for an Astros team that had the third-most regular-season wins in the Majors. He's a utility player only because he has the mentality to play all over the diamond. Some teams aren't signing him because they're uncertain if they'd have enough at-bats for him. That's silly. There's always playing time for a guy like this. The Twins could have a fairly set lineup, but Gonzalez is an insurance policy for the things that don't go right.
• The latest Gonzalez free-agent rumors
6. Gio Gonzalez to the Mets
The Mets need rotation depth and not much else. Last season, teams gave eight starting pitchers an average of five starts, so while the Mets have a very good front four, history says they're going to need a lot more than that. Gonzalez was excellent down the stretch for the Brewers in 2018 and is two seasons removed from pitching 201 innings with a 2.96 ERA for the Nationals.
7. Adam Jones to the Nationals
Jones would be a solid addition to the outfield depth on a franchise that is good enough to win a World Series. Also, he would provide that intangible leadership thing that those of us on the outside can't quantify. He was huge in helping the Orioles return to respectability, and it's hard not to see a renaissance at the age of 33.
8. Clay Buchholz to the Yankees
Buchholz spent 10 seasons with the Red Sox, so he understands the dynamics of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. He proved last summer with the D-backs that when he's healthy, he's still capable of pitching at a high level. He would provide the Yankees with depth both in the rotation and bullpen. He would be a nice finishing touch for a very good offseason.
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.