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Who should go where? Perfect free-agent fits

November 4, 2018

Spring Training was already underway when free-agent outfielder J.D. Martinez and the Red Sox finally agreed to a five-year, $110 million contract in February. Last week, Martinez said the deal happened just as he'd begun to wonder if he'd even play baseball in 2018, much less win a World Series.Funny

Spring Training was already underway when free-agent outfielder J.D. Martinez and the Red Sox finally agreed to a five-year, $110 million contract in February. Last week, Martinez said the deal happened just as he'd begun to wonder if he'd even play baseball in 2018, much less win a World Series.
Funny thing about that. For weeks, virtually everyone in the game had predicted this signing because it seemed to be a perfect fit, the marriage of a team that needed a slugger to one of the best in the game. And judging by the duck boats, they're off to a good start.
Sometimes, these things take time, as teams and players consider options. That's why we're here to help. We're looking for perfect matches between teams and free agents.
We've found nine.
1. Bryce Harper to Giants
You're thinking, "Wait, isn't Bryce Harper a perfect fit anywhere?" As a matter of fact, he is. But this is the perfect one. Harper is that middle-of-the-lineup bat the Giants need. He brings that presence and swagger that would be helpful as San Francisco tries to get back in the postseason. This team is closer to contending than some believe, and the Giants will not be scared off by the size of Harper's contract. San Francisco likely will approach this pursuit with some urgency, since there's no one else on the market that would impact the franchise as much as Harper.
2. Manny Machado to Phillies
The Phillies need an acquisition that makes a statement about their intent to take another step forward, and other than Harper, there's no one else on the market that would come close to making one this big. Machado has averaged 159 games, 36 home runs and 34 doubles over the past four seasons. His arrival might reshape the National League East race.

3. Patrick Corbin to Nationals
The Nationals are off to a terrific start, having acquired relievers Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough to join All-Star closer Sean Doolittle and transform a perennial problem area into a strength. While so much of the focus is on re-signing Harper -- and his loss would not be insignificant -- the Nats' No. 1 need is starting pitching, and Corbin is the best available free-agent starter. He's 29 years old and coming off a season in which he was both healthy and better than ever: 200 innings, 1.05 WHIP, 11.1 K/9. This is how the NL East could be won in 2019.

4. Josh Donaldson to Cardinals
The Cardinals have had their eye on Donaldson for about three years, and he remains a perfect fit, despite legitimate questions about his health after averaging 82 games the past two seasons. He was healthy after being traded to the Indians at the end of the 2018 season, and it shouldn't be forgotten that he averaged 157 games from 2013-16. Donaldson is that explosive bat and fiery personality that will play well on the field and in the clubhouse.

5. Dallas Keuchel to Angels
Keuchel is going to have a long list of offers to sort through. None of them will be as appealing as a chance to pitch in Southern California for a team that could grab an American League Wild Card berth in 2019. Keuchel regressed some in 2018, but the Angels have seen enough of him to know that, when healthy, he significantly upgrades a rotation in need of help.

6. Nathan Eovaldi to Braves
The Braves have the Minor League depth to shop for an elite starter on the trade market. Even better is to go for one who throws hard, is healthy and is coming off the best stretch of baseball of his career. Eovaldi would be the perfect addition to a team that made the playoffs in 2018 and is going to be even better in '19.

7. Craig Kimbrel to Cubs
The Cubs must get some certainty about the ninth inning, and while they don't have a ton of payroll flexibility, they have a glaring hole that could drop them behind the Brewers and Cardinals in the NL Central. Kimbrel would turn an area with questions into an area of strength.

8. Andrew Miller to Red Sox
All those innings, especially all those multi-inning appearances, may have taken their toll in 2018. But if healthy -- and he appears to be -- he's still one of the best in the business. The champions could swap Kimbrel for Miller in the back of their bullpen and not miss a beat.

9. Mike Moustakas back to Brewers
The Brewers went 36-21 after acquiring Moustakas in late July. Even better, Travis Shaw, who shifted from third to second, was outstanding at his new position. There's no reason not to continue a partnership that worked out almost perfectly.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.