Survey says: 10 top free agents will sign with ...

MLB Trade Rumors' poll predicts landing spots for the top names on the open market

November 19th, 2018

Where will [fill in player's name here] sign? That's undoubtedly the most popular question asked early in the offseason, while the Hot Stove is just getting lit.

Well, what if you could have an answer -- maybe not the answer, but an answer -- and not just for one player, but for 10 of the biggest names on the open market? Sounds pretty good, right?

MLB Trade Rumors conducted a poll in which 6,845 readers contributed guesses as to where the most impactful free agents will sign this offseason. The results are in, they're fascinating, and they're below -- along with analysis for each player-destination prediction.

, OF

MLBTR reader prediction: Phillies (34.0%)

Other teams receiving votes: Dodgers (13.1%), Nationals (10.8%), Giants (9.8%), Cubs (8.5%), Cardinals (7.9%), White Sox (6.0%), Yankees (4.2%), Braves (1.4%), Astros (1.4%), Angels (1.1%)

Harper is seeking to shatter the record for the largest contract in baseball history (Giancarlo Stanton's 13-year, $325 million pact), and the Phillies have about as much money to spend as any team this offseason as they look to continue their ascension back to contention. That, plus Philly's need for a big lefty bat in the outfield, makes it easy to see this fit.

As two other big-budget contenders, the Dodgers and Nationals are the only other teams to crack double digits in percentage in the poll. While there hasn't been much in the way of firm news that L.A. could target Harper, it's known that the Nats -- with whom Harper spent his first seven seasons in The Show -- made a last-ditch effort (read: $300 million) to keep the superstar in D.C. before the season ended.

Manny Machado, SS/3B

MLBTR reader prediction:
 Phillies (45.8%)

Other teams receiving votes: Yankees (36.5%), White Sox (5.0%), Dodgers (4.0%), Cardinals (1.9%), Mets (1.5%), Cubs (1.3%)

In case you haven't heard, it's been said more than a few times that the Phillies might be able to land both Harper and Machado in one fell swoop this winter. If the club is forced to focus on just one, the prevailing thought is that Machado -- who can play either shortstop or third base -- is the better option given the lack of development of those on the left side of the infield (, and ). That's reflected in the whopping 45.8 percent in the poll who put Machado in Philly.

Of course, no one seems to be counting out the Yankees, who checked in at 36.5 percent, thanks to their deep pockets and possible need for a shortstop (while Didi Gregorius is recovering from Tommy John surgery) or a third baseman (in case 's defense remains an issue).


MLBTR reader prediction:
 Yankees (74.8%)

Other teams receiving votes: Phillies (3.1%), Astros (3.0%), Brewers (2.5%), Angels (2.4%), Braves (2.1%), Cardinals (1.4%), Nationals (1.4%), Diamondbacks (1.4%), Cubs (1.2%), Giants (1.1%)

Even after pulling off a blockbuster trade by getting lefty from the Mariners, the Yankeees still are very much in play for another starting pitcher, according to's Jon Paul Morosi.

Between that and the natural fit Corbin -- an in-his-prime strikeout artist left-hander who grew up as a Yankees fan -- appears to be for New York, well, just about everyone in the poll (nearly 75 percent!) sees this as a foregone conclusion.


MLBTR reader prediction:
 Astros (16.4%)

Other teams receiving votes: Angels (13.8%), Nationals (13.5%), Brewers (9.9%), Yankees (8.2%), Phillies (6.2%), Braves (6.0%), Cardinals (4.1%), Reds (3.1%), Dodgers (2.1%), Cubs (2.1%), Giants (2.0%), Padres (1.9%), Rangers (1.5%), White Sox (1.4%), Twins (1.2%), Mariners (1.2%), Athletics (1.2%), Red Sox (1.1%)

These results are much more spread out than any of the first three. That's partly because Keuchel's price tag isn't expected to be quite as lofty (more teams should be able to afford him), and partly because a number of teams covet his durability and steadiness as a mid-rotation arm.

The poll shows a return to the Astros, who extended the one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer to Keuchel -- he declined -- and very much need to add a starter with Charlie Morton also a free agent and out for 2019 after Tommy John surgery.


MLBTR reader prediction:
 Braves (28.8%)

Other teams receiving votes: Red Sox (25.4%), Cardinals (18.1%), Phillies (8.4%), Cubs (3.6%), Nationals (3.1%), Mets (2.6%), Astros (2.2%), Dodgers (1.5%), Angels (1.2%), Indians (1.2%)

Another reunion, huh? The poll predicts Kimbrel, who comes with the best resume among all relievers on the open market, will return to Atlanta, where he spent the first five years of his big league career. The Braves arrived in 2018, winning the National League East, but the bullpen -- and more specifically, the closer role -- was something of a question mark for much of the year. Kimbrel certainly would help solve that problem.

That is, if he doesn't return to the Red Sox, who garnered a still-strong 25.4 percent of the vote -- and with whom he spent the past three seasons, punctuated by a World Series title. Boston's bullpen is in flux with both Kimbrel and fellow hard-throwing righty Joe Kelly in free agency.

, C

MLBTR reader prediction:
 Nationals (21.6%)

Other teams receiving votes: Astros (15.3%), Dodgers (14.4%), Mets (11.3%), Braves (7.8%), Angels (3.4%), Brewers (3.0%), Phillies (2.7%), Mariners (2.6%), Rockies (2.5%), Red Sox (2.5%), Athletics (1.5%), Rangers (1.4%), Diamondbacks (1.3%)

Here's the first poll result that's likely to be a casualty of timing. The voting was done over the past several days with the results being revealed Monday afternoon, not long after the Nationals agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal with , according to's Mark Feinsand.

In other words, Washington has addressed its gaping hole at catcher, so the likelihood of Grandal heading to D.C. is extremely slim. Eliminating the 21.6 percent of the vote the Nats received, one figures the corresponding percentages for the Astros (15.3 percent), Dodgers (14.4 percent) and Mets (11.3 percent) each would spike. The 30-year-old switch-hitting Grandal would be a solid fit for any of those three teams, although a return to L.A. may be less likely if only because he declined the qualifying offer.


MLBTR reader prediction:
 Red Sox (51.5%)

Other teams receiving votes: Brewers (5.6%), Astros (4.3%), Yankees (4.0%), Angels (3.6%), Padres (3.2%), Phillies (3.0%), Braves (2.8%), Dodgers (2.4%), Reds (2.3%), Nationals (2.1%), Cubs (2.0%), Giants (2.0%), Cardinals (1.6%), White Sox (1.4%), Rangers (1.3%), Twins (1.1%), Athletics (1.0%)

The poll sees yet another re-signing, although in this case, that would put Eovaldi in line for his first full season in Boston after the Red Sox acquired him from the Rays back in July. It's worth noting, too, that the majority of voters put Eovaldi back with the reigning champs. Perhaps that's because the flamethrower has indicated he would like to return -- if the money is right -- as well as the fact that the righty would help bring more balance to a rotation that features southpaws Chris Sale, and .

A.J. Pollock, OF

MLBTR reader prediction:
 Giants (22.9%)

Other teams receiving votes: Indians (9.2%), Diamondbacks (9.0%), White Sox (6.7%), Phillies (6.2%), Braves (5.7%), Mets (5.4%), Cardinals (5.0%), Nationals (4.6%), Cubs (3.4%), Rockies (3.4%), Mariners (2.5%), Athletics (1.7%), Dodgers (1.6%), Angels (1.6%), Astros (1.5%), Padres (1.5%), Blue Jays (1.4%), Rangers (1.3%), Brewers (1.1%)

Center field has been a trouble spot for the Giants for years now -- since 2016, the position has totaled just 1.9 WAR (second lowest in MLB) -- so it's not surprising that this poll has new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi shoring up that spot as one of his first key moves.

J.A. Happ, LHP

MLBTR reader prediction:
 Yankees (30.9%)

Other teams receiving votes: Blue Jays (9.2%), Angels (8.2%), Brewers (6.5%), Phillies (4.7%), Astros (4.4%), Nationals (3.7%), Twins (3.1%), Athletics (3.1%), Braves (2.6%), Cubs (2.5%), White Sox (2.4%), Cardinals (2.3%), Reds (2.2%), Giants (1.7%), Mariners (1.7%), Dodgers (1.5%), Padres (1.2%), Diamondbacks (1.2%), Red Sox (1.1%), Rangers (1.0%), Indians (1.0%)

Remember how we mentioned above that the Yankees were going to be in on another starter even after getting Paxton? Well, this outcome would make that true. Of course, the voting came before that trade was made, so there's a good chance the results here would differ some.

Otherwise, if all of the poll's outcomes came true, it would mean New York's rotation would have added or re-signed four lefties since the start of the offseason: , Paxton, Corbin and Happ, who would be returning after the Yanks acquired him from the Blue Jays at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

, OF

MLBTR reader prediction:
 Braves (30.8%)

Other teams receiving votes: Indians (10.1%), Giants (9.5%), Phillies (4.9%), Cardinals (4.5%), White Sox (4.2%), Nationals (3.6%), Cubs (3.0%), Mariners (2.9%), Astros (2.8%), Diamondbacks (2.6%), Rockies (2.4%), Athletics (2.3%), Mets (2.3%), Blue Jays (1.9%), Angels (1.4%), Twins (1.4%), Rangers (1.2%), Padres (1.1%), Rays (1.0%), Dodgers (1.0%)

Although Brantley has been one of the more underrated outfielders in baseball the past handful of years, the rumor that he could join the Braves has been quite popular, and the poll reflects that.

The 31-year-old would fit well as a younger, more well-rounded offensive and defensive replacement for fellow free agent in one of Atlanta's corner spots. And he also could bat leadoff, allowing the Braves to push NL Rookie of the Year a notch or two lower in the lineup, where his power would do more damage.