06 Dec MLB Free Agents: News, Notes & Where They Could Sign – Part 1
By: Lou Landers – @realSportsCrew
Mike Moustakas – 3B
He is coming off a season in which he hit 38 homers and drove in 85 runs, both career highs, and he did it in a pitcher friendly ball park. Outside of the freak injury he suffered in 2016, Mous has always been very durable. A lot of people wrote him off up until 2015 when he finally had a break out campaign, but IMO, the royals rushed him to the majors.
He was called up in 2011 at the age of 22 and was not ready for the big leagues. He tried to pull everything and the league caught up with him quickly as evident by his .242, .233 and .212 batting averages between 2012 and 2014. In the 2014 offseason, Mous changed up his approach and began to use the entire field. We saw his batting average shoot up and his HR and RBI total go up as well. Although 3B is loaded with talent in the big leagues, there are a number of teams who need a durable, run producing 3B who also has playoff experience under his belt.
Most Likely Destinations:
Mets – The Mets have a gaping hole at third base right now. David Wright is a non factor and Jose Reyes/Wilmer Flores is not gonna get it done. The mets team lacks offense in a number of other places as well, but adding a big LH power bat to the middle of their lineup is a step in the right direction for them.
Pirates – The Pirates could use an upgrade at both positions on the left side of the infield. Jordy Mercer is a replacement level player at best at SS and David Freese is nothing more than a back up 3B. Jung Ho Kang didn’t play for the team in 2016 and he is now completely out of MLB, leaving the Pirates helpless at the position. Moustakas would be a significant upgrade for the Pirates at 3B but I have also thought about the possibility of them signing SS Zack Cosart as well in order to completely re vamp the left side of their infield.
Angels – Their biggest need is at 2B right now, which they can address via trade or in FA, however their 3B in 2016 Yunel Escobar is a FA, Luis Valbuenna is a liability defensively and doesn’t have the same offensive prowess of a Moustakas, leading me to believe that the Angels are very much in on the Moustakas sweepstakes as they continue to try and build a quality lineup around Mike Trout.
Lorenzo Cain – CF
Cain was a late bloomer, and is surprisingly already 31 years old right now, which makes me wonder how much longer he will have elite speed. Since the start of 2014, Cain has been very consistent, hitting over .300 in 3 of the 4 seasons while also stealing 26 bases or more in 3 of the those seasons as well. He also plays an elite CF and can hit anywhere from 1-5 in a lineup.
I think he is best served as a 1 or 2 hitter because he doesn’t hit for a ton of power, in fact his career high in HR is 16 and career high in RBI is 72. With a high BA, speed to burn and a career high .363 OBP in 2017, Cain is exactly what I would want in 1-2 hitter and every day CF.
Most Likely Destinations:
Blue Jays – The Jays need OF and a lead off hitter in the absolute worst way right now. Their OF production in 2017 was awful, and much of that was because Jose Bautista was arguably their best offensive OF. He also batted lead off for the team for a large chunk of the season. Despite his ability to draw walks, his almost .200 batting average and below average speed made me wonder all season long what he was doing in the lead off spot. The addition of Cain to this Jays team would give them one of the better defensive OF combos with Pillar and Cain, it would give them speed in their lineup and a legitimate lead off hitter to hit in front of Donaldson, Smoak and Morales.
Giants – The Giants need as much offense as they can possibly get right now. We know how desperate they were last season, I mean we saw them bring Pablo Sandoval back hoping he could offer them a boost in the lineup. They are coming off one of the worst seasons they have had in a very long time and when you take a look at their OF, Hunter pence is constantly hurt, Jarret Parker is still unproven and Denard Spans best days are behind him. Adding a Rally starter like Lorenzo Cain to the top of this lineup to have him get on base for Panik, Posey, Belt and hopefully a healthy Hunter Pence, will give the Giants a much needed boost, however adding only Cain will not be enough IMO.
Cubs – The Biggest difference to me between the 2016 and 2017 Cubs was the lack of a lead off hitter and every day CF. The cubs sorely missed Dexter fowler in 2017 and there is no better free agent option than Lorenzo Cain when it comes to emulating what Fowler gave the cubs in 2015 and 2016. Chicago to me is the perfect fit for Cain, not only because they have a championship caliber team, but also because by going there, he is filling one of their few missing pieces. When you look at the Jays and Giants in comparison to the Cubs, they have a lot more work to do, even if they do sign Cain.
JD Martinez – RF
Martinez is easily the biggest fish offensively on the free agent market. He is coming off a season in which he belted 45 HR, 104 RBI, hit .303 and had a .376 OBP between both the Tigers and Diamondbacks. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider that Martinez missed a big chunk of time early on in the 2017 season and only played in 119 games.
His move from a pitchers park in Detroit to a hitters haven in Arizona also had an impact; in only 5 more games as a D-Back, Martinez hit 13 more homers, 26 more RBI, scored 9 more runs and had 9 more hits than he did in his time in Detroit. I do think his defense is already a liability and if he does sign a massive 6 or 7 year deal, it will become an even bigger issue over time. JD would be smart to sign in the AL where he can primarily be used as a DH, however, 2 of the 3 teams I see making a big push for him happen to be in the NL.
Most Likely Destinations:
D-Backs – I already discussed how much more effective JD was in Arizona, and if he does in fact re sign there, the D-Backs would have the best 3-4 hitters in all of baseball with JD and Goldschmidt. The only issue I see with them signing JD is that he is asking for 200+ million dollars and the D-backs may balk at that price with Goldschmidt set to become a free agent after 2018. They also have a lot of OF already under contract; AJ Pollack, David Peralta, Yasmany thomas and Chris Owings. So as much as JD would be an upgrade to all their corner OF, the need for him isn’t quite as big as some may think.
Cardinals – Like the D-Backs, the Cards have a ton of OF already on their roster, but none of them are as proficient with that bat as JD is. The Cardinals are also not a team known for spending big bucks in free agency, however, this team is sorely missing a middle of the order bat and would be smart to sign Martinez and then trade some of their OF depth like Grichuk and Piscotty to improve in other areas such as the bullpen. Remember, they are expected to lose both Rosenthal and Oh from their bullpen.
Red Sox – To me, this is the best fit for Martinez. The Sox lack power and a presence in the middle of their lineup since the retirement of Big Papi and they have a number of ways to make this work.
The most obvious would be to have JD be their full time DH, with Betts in RF, Bradley jr in CF, benintendi in LF and Hanley at 1B. However, if they wanted to avoid Hanley playing the field, they could trade JBJ, move Betts back to CF, have JD in RF, Hanley as DH and then pursue a 1B in free agency like Eric Hosmer or Carlos Santana or make a big trade. They have been heavily linked in trade talks to Jose Abreu from the White Sox to fill their void at 1B. If they could find a way to add both Martinez and Abreu, the Red Sox would suddenly have one of the more feared lineups in MLB.