Prior to Friday, the position player free-agent market had simply been stagnant. The only non-catcher position player to ink a Major League free-agent contract this Hot Stove season was Leonys Martin -- a solid player but hardly a market-shaper.That all starts to change now that Carlos Santana and Zack Cozart
Prior to Friday, the position player free-agent market had simply been stagnant. The only non-catcher position player to ink a Major League free-agent contract this Hot Stove season was Leonys Martin -- a solid player but hardly a market-shaper.
That all starts to change now that Carlos Santana and Zack Cozart have agreed to three-year deals with the Phillies and Angels, respectively. Their decisions are going to have ripple effects in a slow-moving market that is finally starting to gain traction.
Let's run through five groups potentially affected by these signings.
1. Mike Moustakas and Todd Frazier
It was already a shallow pool of clear contenders with a demand for third-base help, and then Cozart essentially expanded the supply side with his shift over from shortstop to sign with the Halos. There's no shame in Cozart deferring to Andrelton Simmons, but he took a job that might have otherwise belonged to Moustakas and Frazier, two power bats looking for a hot-corner hand to hold.
With one fewer possibility in play, it would appear the best options still available to these two are the Giants and Cardinals. The Giants have a screaming need for power, and, unless you believe strongly in the bounce-back power of Pablo Sandoval, a clear hole at the position. The Cardinals have been preoccupied with a trade market featuring Manny Machado and Evan Longoria (they've inquired about Josh Donaldson, but the Blue Jays aren't making him available), but they could find themselves pivoting to Moose or the Toddfather. The Yankees have an opening at third base, but they might prefer a stopgap veteran as opposed to tying up the position with Machado's free agency just a year away. A wild card in all of this is the Orioles, who might have an opening to fill at third if they do deal Machado.
Long story short: The Angels shrunk the market for these guys.
2. Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez
The Santana signing seems to be a good thing for these guys. The Phillies were never viewed as a serious suitor for either Hosmer or Martinez, so Santana likely didn't shrink their market. Santana is four years older than Hosmer and doesn't have the game-changing power of Martinez, so he was projected to receive significantly less than either guy. If $20 million in average annual value does, indeed, turn out to be "significantly less" than what Hosmer and Martinez get, well, that's going to be a good thing for Hosmer and Martinez.
The real key here is that Santana did not go to the Boston Red Sox, who we all know are a likely landing spot for one of Martinez or Hosmer (if not both).
3. The rest of the first-base market
The market includes Logan Morrison, Yonder Alonso, Lucas Duda, Matt Adams, Mitch Moreland, Mark Reynolds, Adam Lind, Mike Napoli and others. Not much has changed for these guys. We knew all along that Santana and Hosmer would be the ones commanding the major commitments this winter and that there is a serious supply and demand issue for all the rest.
Free agency is a game of musical chairs. There are potential opportunities in Boston (if the Red Sox don't sign Hosmer) and Cleveland and possibly in Texas, San Diego and Seattle. But really, there aren't a ton of chairs to go around here.
4. Rhys Hoskins and the Phillies' outfield
Hoskins' 18-homer breakout in a 50-game sample was a highlight -- the highlight of the Phillies' 2017 season. But it obviously didn't solidify his spot at first base, because now Santana (who, yes, has played third base in the big leagues, but not especially well) comes along and bumps him back to left field.
A few days ago, it appeared the Phils were set with an outfield of Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera and Nick Williams, but now the at-bats will have to be spread among four guys ... unless one of them becomes a trade chip. The Phillies have obviously ramped up their rebuild with the Santana acquisition, and their outfield surplus (as well as second baseman Cesar Hernandez) could be used to make a swap for starting pitching help.
5. The American League West
It's not so much about the Cozart move, in isolation, but the entirety of the last week of transactions in the life of the Angels that makes the AL West a lot more interesting. Billy Eppler and Co. have done great work to reel in Shohei Ohtani, Ian Kinsler and Cozart to add to the allure of a club that was in the Wild Card hunt into September 2017 despite Michael Trout missing a month and a half.
How much the Angels have closed the gap on the Astros remains to be seen (the Angels might still need to beef up their bullpen a bit). But they've likely put themselves second in the preseason pecking order, and it will be interesting to see if their moves inspire any added aggression from the Rangers (who added Matt Moore to their rotation Friday), Mariners and A's. As for the defending World Series champs, it can be hard to feel a true sense of urgency in their situation, but the Angels appear intent on keeping the Astros, who could still be a player for Wade Davis or an impact starting pitcher, honest.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.