Finding fits for remaining free agent hitters

Class of stalwart position players remain on market

February 26th, 2018

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The J.D. Martinez-to-Boston saga finally came to a conclusion on Monday as the slugger was officially introduced at JetBlue Park, slipping into his bright white No. 28 Red Sox jersey.
The Red Sox got the slugger they so badly coveted, finally countering the Yankees' ballyhooed December acquisition of reigning National League Most Valuable Player Award winner .
In the cases of both Martinez and , agent Scott Boras needed to get creative in terms of front-loading the deals and including opt-outs in order to work around what has been a glacially slow market.
"Creative?" Boras said. "You'd better be Picasso to deal with these things."
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So while Boston got its guy, what about the rest of the teams around the Majors still seeking offensive help between now and Opening Day?
Plenty of offensive talent remains on the market, most notably at first base, even after came off the board Sunday, agreeing to terms with the Twins.
Martinez and Hosmer each landed nine-figure deals this month, but what does the future hold for the rest of the hitters patiently waiting for their turn?
"When you're a great player, you're not worried about whether you're going to be playing or not," Boras said. "You're just worried about where you're going to be playing and when you're going to be playing."
According to Boras, many of his remaining free agents have heard from players around baseball this spring in recruiting efforts of sorts. Players might want to see their teams add talent, but it's up to the front offices to decide whether the fit -- and price -- is right.
As clubs continue to evaluate what they have on the field now that exhibition games have started, Boras believes teams' respective needs will become clear to them as the spring progresses.
"It's literally like free agency," Boras said. "It's like this is December and calls are rolling in. You just tell the players, 'You're probably going to report a little late.' They'll show up ready to go, just like as if they were in Spring Training."
Here are some of the top position players still waiting to land jobs as March rapidly approaches:
Mike Moustakas, 3B
The longtime Royals third baseman expected to land a lucrative multiyear deal this offseason, turning down Kansas City's qualifying offer. But the 29-year-old hasn't had the market many anticipated, despite his 38-homer season in 2017. Moustakas could take a one-year pillow deal, though any team that signs him will lose Draft picks and international bonus pool money, a steep price for a one-year stopgap -- unless, of course, he returns to Kansas City.
Possible landing spot: Royals
, C
The Mets, Nationals and Athletics have been connected to the veteran catcher at different points this offseason, but the 31-year-old finds himself still seeking employment. Following his disappointing run with Texas last season, Lucroy bounced back with a .310 average and an .865 OPS in 46 games with the Rockies down the stretch.
Possible landing spot: Rockies
, OF
CarGo was an All-Star in 2016, but the 32-year-old struggled at the plate during the first half of '17, posting an anemic .637 OPS. He bounced back with a strong second half (.921 OPS), giving teams something to think about as he looks to move on from Colorado after 10 years with the Rockies.
Possible landing spot: White Sox

, 2B
Walker posted an .801 OPS with 14 home runs in 111 games with the Mets and Brewers last season, but the 32-year-old remains unsigned. Walker's name has been absent from the rumor mill for most of the offseason, leaving his options unclear.
Possible landing spot: Brewers

, 1B
Reynolds has always been a solid power source, but his 30-homer campaign with Colorado last season marked his highest total since 2011. The 34-year-old mashed against righties (.869 OPS, 23 homers in 423 plate appearances), so a team looking for a platoon player or DH option could look to add him to their lineup.
Possible landing spot: Rockies
, 1B
Like Reynolds, Duda smacked 30 homers last season in 127 games with the Mets and Rays. Duda actually crushed righties (.867 OPS, 25 homers in 380 plate appearances) even more than Reynolds, not to mention he's two years younger. Morrison's $6.5 million pact with the Twins might set the market for the remaining first basemen.
Possible landing spot: Royals
, OF
Bautista's run of six straight All-Star seasons came to an end in 2016, but he took a significant step back last year as his OPS plummeted from .817 to .674. The 37-year-old will have to prove himself to earn a regular role with any team, though a discounted deal could land him with a small-market team looking to roll the dice that he can find the fountain of youth.
Possible landing spot: Rays
Danny Valencia, INF/OF
The 33-year-old can play first base, third base and outfield, making him an appealing candidate for a team looking for versatility. His overall numbers from 2017 might not stand out (.725 OPS, 15 homers in 500 plate appearances), but he posted an .804 OPS in 149 plate appearances against lefties, making him a solid platoon option.
Possible landing spot: Rays