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1 free agent that each team could re-sign

October 24, 2018

Twenty-nine of the 30 Major League teams have at least one player headed for free agency this winter -- the Marlins are the lone exception -- and while there figures to be plenty of players finding new homes in the coming months, the best fit for many free agents could

Twenty-nine of the 30 Major League teams have at least one player headed for free agency this winter -- the Marlins are the lone exception -- and while there figures to be plenty of players finding new homes in the coming months, the best fit for many free agents could very well be their current clubs.
So which players might teams be interested in bringing back for another run? Here's a look at all 30 teams (well, 29, anyway) and which incumbent could make the most sense to return for 2019.
Blue Jays: Marco Estrada
Having dealt most of their impending free agents (Josh Donaldson, J.A. Happ, Curtis Granderson, Steve Pearce, John Axford and Aaron Loup), the only true candidates for the Blue Jays are Estrada and Tyler Clippard. Estrada had a rough season, so it likely won't cost much to give him a chance at redemption next spring.
Orioles: Adam Jones
He has been the heart, soul and face of the franchise for the past decade, so although he's entering his age-33 season, what better player is there to help lead a young, rebuilding team. Plus, he clearly likes it in Baltimore, having rejected the opportunity to be traded to a contender this summer.

Rays: Sergio Romo
Not a lot of candidates here after Tampa Bay's 2018 trades, leaving Romo and Carlos Gomez as the only impending free agents. Romo had a solid season as the Rays' closer, though his 2018 will be long remembered for his five turns as the team's opener, including his consecutive "starts" on May 19-20 in Anaheim.
Red Sox: Nathan Eovaldi
The hard-throwing right-hander pitched well for the Red Sox during the regular season after a late-July trade from the Rays, posting a 3.33 ERA in 12 games (11 starts) with Boston. He took his game to another level during the first two rounds of the postseason, winning both of his starts and making a scoreless relief appearance to help the Sox reach the World Series.

Yankees: Player Page for David Robertson
Fellow FA Zach Britton is likely to seek a closer's job, but Robertson -- who turns 34 next April -- has already cashed in a big contract ($46 million across 2015-18) and is a proven commodity in the Bronx. He recently parted ways with his agent and will represent himself going forward, leading many to believe he wants to return to New York.
Indians: Andrew Miller
Since 2014, no reliever has been as consistently dominant as Miller, whose mediocre 2018 season can be largely attributed to injuries. With closer Cody Allen also headed for free agency, the Indians traded for Brad Hand to take over ninth-inning duties going forward, but Miller's return would give Cleveland a one-two punch as strong as any in the game.

Royals: Wily Peralta
A little fudging on this one, too. The Royals' lone free agent is Alcides Escobar, whose subpar season will likely bring his eight-year tenure in Kansas City to a close. Peralta has a $3 million club option for 2019, which seems like a no-brainer following his solid 2018 campaign.
Tigers: Francisco Liriano
Entering his age-35 season, Liriano's best days as a starter are clearly behind him. But the left-hander had outstanding splits against left-handed hitters this season, holding them to a .170 average, a .516 OPS and only four extra-base hits in 98 plate appearances. Liriano could become a solid bullpen weapon with the ability to start in a pinch.
Twins: John Forsythe
Nick Gordon, the Twins' No. 4 prospect, struggled at Triple-A this season (.212/.262/.283 in 99 games), so the Twins aren't likely to count on him at second base in 2019. Forsythe, who came to Minnesota from the Dodgers in the James Dozier trade in July, hasn't matched the solid production he gave the Rays in 2015-16, but he could serve as a good infield stopgap on a one-year deal.
White Sox: James Shields
Hector Santiago, Miguel Gonzalez and Jeanmar Gomez are the only free agents on the White Sox roster, and given that none of them had a particularly good season, we'll cheat a little on this one and suggest bringing back James Shields, either with his $16 million option or a new contract. Shields reached the 200-inning mark for the first time since 2015 and remains a solid, veteran presence on a young club.

Angels: Garrett Richards
The talented right-hander sustained a torn UCL this summer and underwent Tommy John surgery in late July. Richards is unlikely to pitch in 2019, so why not re-sign him to a two-year deal with a low base in 2019 and give him a chance to make an impact in 2020? No team knows Richards like the Angels, who drafted him in the first round in 2009 and watched him go 45-38 with a 3.54 ERA over eight injury-riddled seasons.
Astros: Marwin Gonzalez
As important as Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel are, Gonzalez offers the type of versatility very few players have. The 29-year-old started at least 19 games at four different positions this season, giving manager AJ Hinch the ultimate Swiss Army knife player at his disposal.

A's: Jonathan Lucroy
Sean Murphy, Oakland's top catching prospect, had only eight at-bats at Triple-A following a late-season promotion, so it's hard to imagine the Athletics handing him the starting catching job in 2019. Lucroy was a solid presence behind the plate for the AL Wild Card team, making him a strong candidate to return on a one-year deal, possibly with a 2020 option.
Mariners: Nelson Cruz
Age is just a number. That seems to be the case with Cruz, who belted 37 home runs in his age-37 season. His 203 home runs since the start of 2014 are more than anybody else in the Majors, so taking Cruz out of Seattle's lineup would leave a gaping hole that would be difficult to fill. Even at 38, Cruz remains one of the most consistent power threats in the league.

Rangers: Tony Barnette
The right-hander was in the midst of a strong season when a strained lat muscle ended his year in early July. Barnette, who pitched six seasons in Japan before making his big league debut with Texas in 2016, has been a solid contributor in the Rangers bullpen.
Braves: Brad Brach
Brach salvaged his walk year with a strong two-month run in Atlanta, pitching to a 1.52 ERA in 27 appearances. His underwhelming performance in Baltimore from April through July (4.85 ERA and 1.769 WHIP) might cost him a chance to sign somewhere as a closer, so why not return to a young, up-and-coming team in Atlanta that figures to contend in the coming years?

Marlins: N/A
Remarkably, the Marlins do not have a single player on their roster who is eligible for free agency. Brad Ziegler and Cameron Maybin are both headed for free agency, but the Marlins traded the two veterans this summer, leaving Miami with an entire roster under team control. Ziegler has since announced his retirement.
Mets: Devin Mesoraco
The Mets are said to be interested in Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos, but Mesoraco would welcome a return to New York, where he hit 10 homers with a respectable .715 OPS in 66 games. He played 84 games in 2018 across his time spent with Cincinnati and New York, which represented his highest total since his All-Star season in 2014.
Nationals: Bryce Harper
Who else? You can make an argument that the Nationals should bring back Kelvin Herrera and/or Jeremy Hellickson, but this winter is about one thing and one thing only in Washington: Harper. The face of the franchise since the moment he put on the uniform, Harper has said he would like to stay with the Nationals.

Phillies: Wilson Ramos
Ramos played well after his late-July trade to the Phillies, posting an .879 OPS in 33 games. Jorge Alfaro remains the catcher of the future for the Phillies, but Ramos' bat makes him a good fit in Philadelphia's lineup, which needs as many bats as possible.
Brewers: Wade Miley
Miley missed more than two months with an oblique strain this season, but when he took the ball, he pitched quite well for the Crew. Miley was 5-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 16 starts, rebounding after back-to-back seasons with an ERA above 5.00. The southpaw also pitched well in the playoffs, posting a 1.23 ERA over 14 2/3 innings.

Cardinals: Bud Norris
Norris pitched well in the closer's role for the Cardinals, combining with hard-throwing Jordan Hicks to create a formidable one-two punch at the back end of the bullpen. Having played for six teams since 2015, Norris might finally make a return appearance with a club, something he hasn't done since he pitched for the Orioles for parts of three seasons (2013-15).
Cubs: Cole Hamels
The Cubs hold a $20 million club option on Hamels, who found new life after being traded to Chicago. Hamels went 4-3 with a 2.36 ERA in 12 starts after the Cubs acquired him, helping make up for Yu Darvish's injury and Tyler Chatwood's ineffectiveness. Hamels will be 35 in December, but a one-year commitment would be a good roll of the dice for Chicago.

Reds: Matt Harvey
When the Reds acquired Harvey in a trade with the Mets in May, it was widely assumed Cincinnati would try to help him right the ship with the hope of trading him by July 31. But despite some interest from other clubs, that trade never happened, sparking the idea that the Reds want to re-sign the right-hander. Harvey wasn't great with Cincinnati (7-7, 4.50 ERA in 24 starts), but he showed enough for the team to want him back.
Pirates: Jordy Mercer
Mercer has been the Pirates' everyday shortstop since 2014, providing a steady glove and a serviceable bat at the position. Although four of their top seven prospects are middle infielders, it's not clear if any of them are ready to take over at shortstop in 2019.
D-backs: A.J. Pollock
Arizona has 12 players headed for free agency, but none is as crucial to its lineup as Pollock, who posted an OPS of .800 or higher for the fourth time in his past five seasons. He has battled injuries the past few years as he's tried to regain his All-Star form of 2014, but he fits the D-backs lineup well and is a natural to return.
Dodgers: Yasmani Grandal
This one comes with a huge asterisk: If Clayton Kershaw opts out, the Dodgers will likely do whatever they can to bring him back. Of the current crop of free agents, Grandal seems like the best fit to return given his four-year history with the pitching staff and his solid offensive numbers.

Giants: Derek Holland
The only pitcher to make 30 starts for San Francisco this season, Holland pitched relatively well (3.57 ERA) over his team-high 171.1 innings. The left-hander just turned 32 and could come back as a mid-to-back rotation arm with Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija expected to return from injuries.
Padres: Freddy Galvis
The Padres have only two free agents, so this one is easy. Galvis played all 162 games for a second straight season, providing stability at shortstop for San Diego. Top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., MLB Pipeline's No. 2 overall prospect, will still be only 20 years old by the time camp opens, but even if he's ready to take over at shortstop, Galvis could still serve in an important utility role, with Tatis sliding to third base on occasion.
Rockies: Adam Ottavino
After spending $106 million on their bullpen last winter, the Rockies might not want to jump back into the reliever pool this offseason. But Ottovino was easily their most consistent arm in the bullpen in 2018.

Mark Feinsand is an executive reporter for