Article written by Alex Reiner
The 2017 World Series was one for the ages with twists and turns in every game. Luckily for us baseball fans, the offseason free agency period may be the same.
There are several big names hitting the open market. Many of these players could bring teams to the next level. Moreover, some of the usual big spenders may be out of the race this year, giving rise to other teams to sign top talent. For example, the New York Yankees have found success recently in building young players and not by spending, so they many pull themselves from bidding wars.
The Los Angeles Dodgers may also withdraw from high-priced deals since its World Series core is returning. That being said, these two franchises have a surplus of money and would be the ones to raise hell during a bidding war for a stud.
Here are the top 5 MLB free agents that all general managers have circled on their board:
Shohei Ohtani has not stepped foot on an MLB diamond but still has the attention from all front offices. Ohtani had a star-studded career in Japan and recently announced he would like to sign with an MLB team. The 23-year-old has had great success on the bump and at the plate, and he has discussed wanting to play both ways in America. This makes him more desireable to American League teams as he could be a designated hitter in addition to a pitcher, but for sure Ohtani will also be given offers from National League clubs.
Yu Darvish’s World Series performance was uncharacteristic to say the least. He recorded just 10 outs combined in his two starts, one start coming in the decisive Game 7. World Series struggles aside, Darvish is one of the best pitchers in the league. The playoff blunders do not help his reputation, but his stuff is still nasty, and he could help propel a borderline playoff team into the postseason.
J.D. Martinez is the best hitter on the market, and his prowess at the plate will ensure he gets the money he deserves. His power and On Base Percentage makes him a middle of the order nightmare, and although Martinez’s 2017 campaign was adbridged, he tore up the box scores. General managers will have to cough up a large amount of money since players of Martinez’s caliber, like Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes, signed nine-figure deals this past year.
Jake Arrieta helped lift the 108-year championship drought in Chicago, but he took a step back this year. He was no longer the Cubs’ ace and he did not perform up to the hype. His strikeouts were down and injuries limited his 2017 campaign. That being said, Arrieta will strike a large deal on the open market. He has proven to have unhittable stuff, and he is built to win. I would not be surprised if the Yankees jumped to sign him and bolster an already solid starting pitching rotation.
Similar to Arrieta, Eric Hosmer helped deliver a World Series title to a championship-hungry city. The first baseman has developed a powerful stroke, leading to his 25 dingers in back-to-back years. His glove is also outstanding as he’s won four Gold Glove awards. Hosmer looked like he may fill the void in Boston when David Ortiz retired, but it will be interesting to see if Kansas City wants to keep its star.
The MLB free agency period will be one to watch. Some teams win championships over a span of years developing talent, while others win them in a single offseason. The next few months off the field may be as important as the following months on the field.