This will be the week.Certainly.Well, probably.Hopefully.Perhaps.Maybe?All right, let's be honest: Nearly three months after Jose Altuve fielded the final ground ball of 2017, we're still not sure when the long-promised deluge of free-agent signings will arrive.Here, then, is what we can piece together about five of the top players available.J.D.
This will be the week.
All right, let's be honest: Nearly three months after Jose Altuve fielded the final ground ball of 2017, we're still not sure when the long-promised deluge of free-agent signings will arrive.
Here, then, is what we can piece together about five of the top players available.
J.D. Martinez: The Boston Herald reported earlier this month that the Red Sox's offer to Martinez was for $125 million over five years. At the moment, there's no evidence that Boston has withdrawn -- or improved -- its offer. Thus, the stalemate continues between the team and agent Scott Boras.
One source said Monday evening that Martinez still has at least one offer on the table, but the source did not specify which team made it.
The Red Sox's patient approach with Martinez suggests that they are confident they will not be outbid by any other potential Martinez suitors. Thus far, they have been proven correct. And without a comparable free agent or trade candidate still available, it's difficult to imagine how the Martinez market will change significantly -- unless a star outfielder is injured during the early portion of Spring Training.
Boras, though, is certain to highlight one aspect of Lorenzo Cain's recent five-year, $80 million contract with the Brewers: Cain, 32, is now under contract through his age-36 season. For the same to be true of Martinez, he would need to receive a seven-year deal. Some observers question whether Martinez will sign a contract of that duration due to long-term questions about his outfield play; Cain, meanwhile, is a superior defender.
Yu Darvish: One industry source believes the Twins are willing to offer Darvish a five-year contract, while the Cubs' comfort level has been at four years. When contacted by MLB.com, the teams did not confirm whether they have made offers of those lengths, and Darvish's representatives have not commented on negotiations.
The Dodgers still would like to re-sign Darvish. The Los Angeles Times has reported that they likely would need to trade Matt Kemp, John Forsythe or Yasmani Grandal in order to afford Darvish while ensuring that they remain under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold this year.
The Dodgers' current 2018 commitments are $185 million, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. As a general rule of thumb, that number can't exceed approximately $187 million for the full season, because benefits, insurance and bonuses totaling around $10 million are part of the luxury-tax calculation.
Jacob Arrieta: Arrieta has been one of the more mysterious free-agent cases this offseason, lagging behind Darvish in the number of publicly interested teams despite a superior postseason resume.
The Giants want to add a starting pitcher after trading Matt Moore to the Rangers, but they are more inclined to add a fourth or fifth starter than meet Boras' price on Arrieta, a former National League Cy Young Award winner.
The Brewers remain a possibility for Arrieta, even though conventional wisdom holds that they're more likely to trade outfielder Domingo Santana to upgrade the rotation than sign an expensive free agent. Milwaukee carried payrolls in excess of $100 million earlier this decade, but it currently has a little less than $90 million committed to the 2018 roster, according to Cot's. So there's room to grow.
Eric Hosmer: The Royals have gradually improved their chances to retain Hosmer by clearing salary off their books through a pair of trades this month -- moving Joakim Soria on Jan. 4 and Brandon Moss on Monday. It's unclear, though, whether they've improved their reported seven-year offer since last month, or whether the Padres -- their chief competition -- are willing to increase the proposal they made, as well.
Mike Moustakas: The Cardinals, also linked to Hosmer this offseason, remain a fit for Moustakas as well, given Matt Carpenter's ability to play either infield corner.
Otherwise, a relatively small number of teams appear to be actively seeking a third baseman this winter. The Braves and White Sox are both advancing into a new phase of their rebuild, but they have yet to make an overt move to sign Moustakas.
So Moustakas may have to wait on Darvish's decision. Why? If Darvish signs with a team other than the Yankees, then New York general manager Brian Cashman should have the room in his budget to pursue Moustakas or fellow free-agent third baseman Todd Frazier.
Jon Paul Morosi is a reporter for MLB.com and MLB Network.