A modest free-agent proposal for 7 teams
No team sees its roster as a finished product, and there's nothing unusual about that. General managers are tinkerers by nature and are never completely satisfied. They're always on the lookout for one more bullpen arm, one more right-handed bat, one more this or that.
That's especially true in the run up to this Spring Training, because for a second straight year, so many players remain unsigned. That's why the best teams are taking a second and third look at the market and their needs.
That's what the D-backs did Thursday, with the signing of reliever Greg Holland. Same thing with the Astros and lefty starterWade Miley.
We're likely to see a flurry of acquisitions like this over the next couple of weeks. Let's take a look at seven possibilities.
Some will tell you the Brewers need to focus on adding a starting pitcher. Do not listen to these people. In Brewers general manager David Stearns, they should trust. Could Milwaukee use a veteran starter? Sure, every team could. With Jimmy Nelson healthy and three young starters -- Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes -- competing for jobs, the Brewers are in a good place with their pitching. But the Cubs and Cardinals are good enough that the Brewers need another move or two to keep pace in the National League Central.
Modest proposal: A more intriguing option would be for the Brewers general manager to re-sign Mike Moustakas and shift Travis Shaw across the diamond to second base. Here's the tricky part of this suggestion: Milwaukee's top prospect is Keston Hiura, a second baseman. He figures to play in the Majors at some point in 2019. But Moustakas would offer more certainty, and in the NL Central, that's a must at this point.
2. Red Sox
We're not buying that the Red Sox are done with their bullpen. Specifically, that they're not going to sign Craig Kimbrel. We take president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski at his word that the Red Sox aren't going to make a major expenditure for the back of the bullpen. But that could also mean the Red Sox are unwilling to give Kimbrel the six-year contract he may have thought he could get. At this point, everyone has to be reconsidering their strategy.
Modest proposal: Dombrowski waited out J.D. Martinez last offseason, and he appears to be doing the same thing with Kimbrel. But there could be a bit of urgency for both sides. While Kimbrel hasn't found an offer he's comfortable with, the Red Sox have watched the Yankees construct one of the great bullpens ever. Can't you kids figure this thing out?
Smart move by the Astros to sign Miley for $4.5 million. Suddenly, Houston's rotation looks more solid with Miley lining up in a rotation with three veterans -- Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Collin McHugh -- and a bunch of kids. But those four veterans are all free agents after the 2019 season, and even though the Astros love their young pitching depth and have Lance McCullers Jr. scheduled back in 2020, there's one more obvious move.
Modest proposal:Dallas Keuchel is unsigned. He was an important part of baseball's best rotation in 2018. To sign him to, say, a three- or four-year deal, would give Houston some certainty moving beyond 2019.
The Athletics made it look easy last season the way they jump-started career after career. That's why projecting their rotation for 2019 is difficult. At times, the A's see things in pitchers that other organizations simply don't see. So when they re-signed Mike Fiers and added Marco Estrada, it was the start of putting a 97-win team back together. Top prospect Jesus Luzardo figures into the mix, as well. That may not be enough, but good news for the A's is that the market is still flush with starting pitching talent, including some the A's know well.
Modest proposal: Lefty Brett Anderson started his career with the A's and returned to them last season and had some very good stretches. He would seem to be a solid pickup for Oakland as Spring Training approaches.
While the Phillies are still thinking of big, splashy free-agent moves, there's another more modest addition that would help nudge the club back into contention. Some will scoff at this suggestion. They will wonder where his playing time is going to come from. They will see it as a waste of money. They will be wrong.
Modest proposal: To quote José Altuve, "When you have a problem, you call Marwin." That's the thing about Marwin Gonzalez. You only understand how valuable he is when you've had him in your own clubhouse and watched him play nearly every position on the diamond. For a team looking to turn a big corner in 2019, he's an ideal addition.
It's been another very solid offseason by Angels general manager Billy Eppler. If the Angels aren't decimated by injuries, they've got a great chance to compete for a playoff spot. But there's so much unsigned talent that the Angels have to be considered another option or two to fortify an area that has killed them the last couple of seasons. Lucky for them, there are plenty of smart, low-cost additions still available.
Modest proposal: Right-hander Clay Buchholz can help either in the bullpen or the rotation. He has enough of an injury history that his health must be closely monitored, but he proved again last summer in Arizona that when he's healthy his stuff still plays.
The Yankees have already made the Amerian League East a Boston-New York dead heat, which means they're not done yet, even after building a great bullpen and a solid rotation. About the only thing the Yankees could use is another starting pitcher or two to add more depth. This market is perfect for that kind of addition.
Modest proposal: Lefty Gio Gonzalez pitched very well for the Brewers down the stretch and is two seasons removed from 32 starts and a 2.96 ERA for the Nationals. He'd given the Yankees an embarrassment of pitching riches.