Many of the big-ticket free agents in this year’s loaded class of have found new homes before the holiday, but given a dense contingent of 139 free agents total, plenty of outliers remain.
The pitching market has largely subsided now that blue chips Zack Greinke, David Price and Johnny Cueto have been whisked away with nine-figure deals, and Jason Heyward got the ball rolling among his fellow outfielders.
There is still plenty of talent out there, as Christopher Kamka of CSNChicago.com noted:
Heyward's $184 million deal with the Chicago Cubs reportedly wasn’t his highest offer, which may have more of a ripple effect on where the bar is set among the rest of the outfield market.
Heyward was considered the top free-agent outfielder this winter, and his deal was expected to set a new bar for his position for players like Chris Davis and Alex Gordon, among others.
Here is a look at the latest buzz on a few high-profile names that still seek a home.
White Sox Interested in Alex Gordon
The Chicago White Sox are interested in adding Alex Gordon and swooping him away from the incumbent Kansas City Royals, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
While a union would certainly bolster the lineup to complement slugger Jose Abreu and newly acquired third baseman Todd Frazier, the White Sox already house Avisail Garcia and Melky Cabrera in their corner-outfield spots, and have Adam LaRoche at DH.
Gordon is expected to net a five-year deal worth at least $100 million, per Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, which may be out of the White Sox's price range, per Rosenthal:
However, Rosenthal indicated that should the White Sox land Gordon, they’d shuffle other personnel in order to make a financial fit:
Gordon was an All-Star in each of the last three seasons and a key cog in the Royals’ pennant runs the past two Octobers as the team’s defensive catalyst.
By adding multifaceted Gordon, the White Sox would not only bolster their starting lineup, but also pry away one of the primary contributors of a team within their division that by all signs will contend again in 2016.
Orioles, Chris Davis Continue to Talk After Offer Pulled
Contract negotiations between the Baltimore Orioles and slugging first baseman Chris Davis reached a breaking point when the team pulled a seven-year, $150 million offer earlier this month, according to Buster Olney of ESPN The Magazine.
Both parties contrast in what they believe is an appropriate offer, though Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports dialogue remains ongoing between Davis’ agent Scott Boras and Orioles owner Peter Angelos:
Boras' claim is that the $22 million yearly figure is about what was paid to Jacoby Ellsbury, exactly what was paid to Hanley Ramirez and less than Jason Heyward got. And none of those players slugs like Davis.
While Orioles people are investigating other possibilities, it seems likely that to this point Angelos hasn't given the go-ahead to sign someone to truly replace Davis.
However, Olney reported the team is seeking other options, albeit at a different position, to fill Davis’ potential power void in the lineup:
Davis led the majors in home runs two of the last three years but has been a notoriously streaky hitter, best shown by his .196/.300/.404 slash line in 2014 when he played 127 games.
Because he packs the punch from the plate and today’s market is insanely inflated, Davis will likely land the deal he seeks.
The Orioles missed out on the playoffs last year after reaching the ALCS the year prior, and while a void at first base may be difficult to endure, they may be better off investing elsewhere.
Scott Kazmir Reportedly Has Plenty of Options
Now that Greinke, Price and Cueto are gone, Kazmir remains arguably the best starting pitcher on the market.
Heyman reported Kazmir has multiple three-year offers in the $12-13 million per-year range, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today revealed who those suitors likely are:
Rosenthal followed up that the Oakland A’s—with whom Kazmir pitched in 2014 and parts of 2015—are out of the mix after signing Henderson Alvarez to a one-year, $4.25 million deal.
Kazmir still has plenty of options but is likely waiting for the first reasonable four-year offer, per Heyman.
Kazmir, 31, is entering his 12th season but showed no signs of aging in a year he made 31 starts, threw 183 innings and compiled a 3.10 ERA with the A’s and Houston Astros.
The Washington Nationals could use another starter to replace Jordan Zimmermann, the Royals are now sans Cueto with Kazmir a more affordable option and the St. Louis Cardinals lost the John Lackey sweepstakes. Kazmir would be a worthy replacement for any of those.
The Astros don’t plan to simply re-sign Kazmir as trade bait, according to the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich, and already have a great core around Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers and Lance McCullers Jr. Add a healthy Scott Feldman, and they’ll have a remarkable five.
The Orioles might make the most sense given Wei-Yin Chen is reportedly seeking a five-year, $100 million deal, per Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com, and Baltimore will already be chasing the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays in a competitive AL East.
Kazmir would be best suited to sign with a team he believes he’ll play a key role and with one that can contend. But he also should net that fourth year as a deserving and established lefty that would bolster the top of just about any rotation.