MLB Column: Landing spots for best available free agents

In this Oct. 17, 2017, file photo, Chicago Cubs' Jake Arrieta talks during a news conference before Game 3 of baseball's National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

It has now been over two weeks since pitchers and catchers reported and spring training games are in full swing, yet many top-tier free agents remain unsigned. As a result of this, the MLBPA has started a Spring Training camp for any remaining free agent that wants to attend. However, with Opening Day just around the corner, these players will have to sign soon, or risk missing a part of or even the whole 2018 MLB season. Let’s predict where some of the best remaining free agents will land come March 29th.

Jake Arrieta - Milwaukee Brewers

Arrieta is undoubtedly the best free agent still available, and with the Chicago Cubs signing Yu Darvish, they made it clear that they are not interested in bringing him back. The 2015 Cy Young Award winner who posted a 22-6 record, 1.77 ERA and 236 strikeouts was not nearly the same pitcher in 2017, but he still managed a respectable 14-10 record, 3.53 ERA and 162 strikeouts. To me, the Brewers are the perfect fit for Arrieta, who just missed the postseason last year and lack an ace at the top of their rotation. This signing would allow Arrieta to stay in division, and could be the final piece of the puzzle that pushes Milwaukee into the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Mike Moustakas - Kansas City Royals

A few weeks ago I would have said the Mets, last week I would have said the crosstown rival Yankees, but both teams addressed their third base needs with the Mets signing Todd Frazier and the Yankees trading for Brandon Drury. Therefore, it leaves the Royals as the most realistic suitor. After failing to retain Lorenzo Cain or Eric Hosmer, Kansas City must do everything they can to retain Moustakas or else they will lose their entire big three from last season. After setting the franchise record for home runs in a single season with 38, he has the perfect opportunity to go back to Kauffman Stadium and be the face of the franchise for years to come.

Greg Holland - Los Angeles Angels

After missing the entire 2016 season due to Tommy John surgery, Holland came back and recorded a league-high 41 saves with a 3.61 ERA for the Colorado Rockies, earning the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Meanwhile, the Angels had a very good bullpen but lacked a true closer, having eight different players record at least one save. This is a problem that they will most likely want to address, and Holland is one of the best closers in the game. While his past two seasons have been far from the 2013 and 2014 seasons in Kansas City where he saved over 40 games with a sub-two ERA, he is still someone who can close out games on a consistent basis. That is just what the Angels need, especially if they want to make the playoffs after falling just short last season.

Jonathan Lucroy - Los Angeles Angels

That’s right, the Angels should sign Lucroy too. After all, a closer needs someone to throw to. Sure, they could stick with Martín Maldonado who hit .221 as the starter last season, or they could have Maldonado back up Lucroy just like he did from 2012-2016 in Milwaukee. Yes, Lucroy had perhaps the worst season of his career in 2017, but he was still significantly better than Maldonado, hitting .265 for the Rangers and Rockies. He is also only one year removed from his all-star season in 2016, so there is certainly potential for him to get back to that form. As I mentioned before, if the Angles want to be serious playoff contenders they need to make some improvements, and the catcher position is one that needs to be dealt with.  

Lance Lynn & Alex Cobb

I am grouping Lynn and Cobb together because they have had very similar career paths. They both entered the league in 2011, they both had Tommy John Surgery and they both average mid-three ERAs for their career. Essentially, they are almost the same player, and any team that needs a reliable starting pitcher should be looking at both of them. There doesn’t seem to be one clear option, rather multiple landing spots where either of them would fit in well. One team is the Twins, who made the playoffs last season will look to make it two years in a row, but will also need to address a pitching staff that was well below average last season. The Brewers, if unable to sign Arrieta, could still be in the market for a quality starter. And yes, the Angels could also be in the market for a starter, as their rotation is shaky at best. There are multiple other options, including the Mariners, A’s and Orioles, but I believe the three I listed are the most likely.  


Jorge Eckardt is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at jorge.eckardt@uconn.edu.